Shoulder replacement surgery

Shoulder replacement surgery is not as common as knee or hip replacement, but can be very effective in relieving joint pain and helping people to carry on with everyday activities.

Why might I need to have shoulder replacement surgery?

This type of surgery is usually recommended if your shoulder pain:

  • Interferes with your everyday activities, including competitive sport
  • Affects your sleep
  • Results in loss of movement or weakness in your shoulder
  • Has not improved with non-operative treatments such as anti-inflammatory medication, steroid injections or an exercise programme

What happens during the operation?

The damaged parts of the shoulder are replaced with an artificial joint (prosthesis). Surgery can involve a partial replacement involving just the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) which forms the ‘ball’ of the ball and socket joint or a full joint replacement of both the ball and socket (glenoid).

Why might I need shoulder replacement surgery?

There are a number of conditions where symptoms are unlikely to improve without surgery. These include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, rotator cuff injuries that have led to osteoarthritis and damage to the joint cartilage, and severe fractures where it is impossible to repair shattered bone fragments.

How long will it take to recover?

Most people are able to return home within a few days of surgery. Your recovery depends on the type of procedure you have and varies from person to person but your specialist will be able to advise you about how long it will take before you can carry on with your normal activities. Usually it will take a few weeks before you are able to comfortably carry out tasks such as reaching above you to reach high shelves and cupboards, and you may need support with other tasks such as getting dressed and household chores such as washing and cooking. You will be prescribed painkillers and given some gentle exercises to help rebuild your shoulder strength and flexibility.

Important: This information is only a guideline to help you understand your treatment and what to expect. Everyone is different and your rehabilitation may be quicker or slower than other people’s. Please contact us for advice if you’re worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.


Arthroscopy allows surgeons to use a type of keyhole surgery to diagnose and treat joint problems.
Used for treating calcific tendonitis of the rotator cuff, this outpatient procedure uses ultrasound technology

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