Shoulder Replacement Surgery

What is Shoulder Replacement Surgery?

A shoulder replacement surgery replaces a worn out or damaged shoulder with an artificial joint (prosthesis).

The shoulder is a complex joint that consists of the upper arm bone (humerus), the shoulder blade (scapula), and the collarbone (clavicle). The humerus ends in what looks like a ball. This ball rests against a socket in the scapula.

Any part of the shoulder’s anatomy may become damaged as a result of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, an injury that damages or tears tissues, a broken bone near the shoulder joint, or a tumor in or around the shoulder.

Shoulder replacement surgery can help lessen joint pain, improve range of motion, increase shoulder strength and improve your quality of life, so you can get back to your life and doing the things you love.

Shoulder Replacement Options

When medications and other treatments cannot keep shoulder pain at a manageable level, surgery to replace the shoulder joint may be appropriate.

Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery (traditional shoulder arthroplasty)

A total shoulder replacement surgery involves replacing the original ball-and-socket surfaces of the shoulder with prosthetic material such as metal, polyethylene or ceramics. Total shoulder replacement is considered the most reliable surgical option for relieving debilitating shoulder arthritis, but it is not appropriate for people who want to remain very active or have damaged rotator cuff muscles.

Reverse Shoulder Replacement (reverse total shoulder arthroplasty)

A reverse shoulder replacement surgery involves reversing the positions of the shoulder joint's ball and socket. The ball at the top of the humerus is replaced with a socket-shaped prosthetic, while the shoulder's natural socket is fitted with a prosthetic ball.

Partial Shoulder Replacement (stemmed hemiarthroplasty)

A partial shoulder replacement surgery involves the replacement of the arm’s humeral head with a prosthetic ball.

Minimally Invasive Shoulder Replacement

Minimally invasive is a term used for any type of surgery that is less invasive than traditional or open surgery. Minimally invasive partial or total shoulder replacement surgeries are innovative procedures that are as effective as traditional surgery.

A minimally invasive shoulder procedure is a common and frequently recommended for many shoulder conditions that involve the surrounding ligaments, muscles and tendons, such as a torn or diseased rotator cuff or a labral tear.

Are You a Candidate for Shoulder Replacement?

To determine the most appropriate shoulder replacement surgery for you, our shoulder surgeons consider a wide range of factors, including severity of symptoms, overall health and response to previous treatment.

If you are experiencing the following, surgery may be advised.

  • Severe pain that prevents you from participating in everyday activities
  • Have weakness in your shoulder and are cannot move it fully
  • If your symptoms don’t improve with non-surgical treatments

For those who may have been diagnosed with advanced osteoarthritis, the condition of your shoulder joints will determine your surgical options. Surgery on the shoulder is common for severe osteoarthritis with a success rate of over 90 percent.

Optimizing Health Before Surgery

At Brigham and Women’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, we address each patient’s health before surgery. Clinical research has shown that better control of a patient’s medical and physical condition prior to surgery results in far better outcomes.

This includes management of preexisting conditions, including diabetes or high blood pressure, ensuring a healthy diet, providing certain supplements, and supporting muscle conditioning. With all these elements in place, recovery and rehabilitation can advance smoothly.

What to Expect After Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Most patients will spend one to two nights in the hospital to work on gentle range of motion exercises with a physical therapist. The majority of shoulder replacement patients go home after leaving the hospital, and do not need to enter a rehabilitation facility.

To recover strength, endurance and full range of motion, most patients will require ongoing physical therapy following shoulder surgery. Recovery from can take anywhere from weeks to three months.

Since it can be difficult to navigate the world with one hand, we work closely with patients to prepare them in advance of shoulder surgery. We advise patients to wear their arm in a sling around the house prior to surgery to realize where the challenges might be, and work on a plan to make these challenges easier.

Personalized, Expert Shoulder Replacement at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery is a leading provider of shoulder replacement services. Our orthopaedic program has been consistently recognized by US News & World Report as one of the top-ranking programs in the country. Each year, our expert orthopaedic surgeons help improve the quality of life of thousands of patients suffering from shoulder damage.

Our Shoulder Replacement Surgeons

Each of our shoulder surgeons offers individualized treatment to each patient. You can trust our orthopaedic surgeons to provide expert, compassionate patient care.

Schedule an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with one of our expert shoulder replacement surgeons, please call 800-294-9999, or fill out an online appointment request form.

Refer a Patient

We are dedicated to working with our referring physicians. If you would like to refer a patient for a shoulder replacement surgery, please call 1-800-MD-TO-BWH (1-800-638-6294) or see our list of referral options.

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