EQ00020_shoulder replacement

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Shoulder replacement surgery replaces a worn, painful shoulder joint with a new, functional joint made from metal and plastic.


Reasons for Procedure  

The surgery relieves debilitating shoulder joint pain caused by a shoulder condition or injury that interferes with daily life.

Total shoulder replacement is a surgery done to treat different shoulder conditions and injuries, such as:


Possible Complications  

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • Chronic disease such as diabetes or obesity

What to Expect  

Prior to Procedure  

Before surgery, you may meet with your doctor for a physical exam, medical history, and tests. You may have blood tests.

Imaging studies that help evaluate the shoulder joint and surrounding structures include:

Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to two weeks before the procedure like:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Blood-thinners
  • Antiplatelets
  • Anti-arthritis medications


You may be given either:

  • General anesthesia—you will be asleep through the surgery
  • Regional anesthesia—used to block pain in the upper body, but you will not be asleep

Description of the Procedure  

The doctor will make a cut through your skin near your shoulder. The large muscles around the shoulder will be pulled back. Another incision will be made in the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is made up of tendons that cover and support the shoulder joint. Pulling back the muscles and tendons will allow the doctor to have a clear view of the shoulder joint.

The doctor will then remove the shoulder joint and replace it with an implant that looks very similar. It includes a ball, socket, and stem parts.

After inserting the implant, the doctor will close the rotator cuff, muscles, and skin with stitches. A drain may also be inserted to remove fluids that may build up in the shoulder after surgery.

How Long Will It Take?  

A few hours

How Much Will It Hurt?  

Anesthesia will block pain during the procedure. You will have pain after the procedure. Ask your doctor about medication to help manage pain.