When Is Shoulder Replacement Surgery Indicated?

Shoulder replacement surgery is usually done when the shoulder joint is badly damaged and there is pain or loss of motion that has not responded to more conservative methods, such as activity modification or use of anti-inflammatory medications. Causes of shoulder damage for which joint replacement surgery may be recommended include:

  • degenerative joint diseases such as osteoarthritis.
  • rheumatoid arthritis.
  • badly broken bone or complex fractures of the upper arm.
  • torn tissues in the shoulder.
  • a tumor in or around the shoulder.

Shoulder replacement surgery is performed less frequently than hip or knee replacement surgery but is equally successful at reducing pain, restoring function, and improving quality of life.

The orthopaedic surgeons at the Cooper Bone and Joint Institute are experts at shoulder replacement surgery, with years of experience and outstanding outcomes.

Shoulder Replacement Surgery Options

The two common types of shoulder replacement are traditional and the partial. However, there is an additional unique type known as the reverse.

Traditional Shoulder Replacement Surgery

In the traditional approach to shoulder replacement, the surgeon makes an incision along the front of your shoulder to expose the joint. Any damaged cartilage and bone from the socket and the ball or head of the upper arm bone is removed. The arm socket will be smoothed down and, usually, a plastic liner is cemented in place in.

With the damaged ball or head of the arm bone removed, the surgeon will then create a narrow channel in the middle of the arm bone for the stem implant, which holds the new "ball" in place. The stem is kept in place with cement or by a material that allows new bone to grow into the joint component over time to hold it in place.

Partial Shoulder Replacement Surgery

During partial shoulder joint replacement surgery, the surgeon may find that the socket in the shoulder is in good condition and that only the ball or head of the humerus needs to be replaced. The surgeon will then remove the ball as would be performed during a total shoulder replacement.

Reverse Shoulder Replacement Surgery

The reverse procedure is very similar to a traditional shoulder replacement, except it switches the positions of the ball and socket of the shoulder joint. In this procedure the metal ball is attached to the shoulder bone and the plastic socket is attached to the upper arm bone. It is typically used when patients have completely lost their rotator cuff (a group of muscles in the shoulder used to lift the arm) or in cases where fractures have healed poorly or incorrectly, so that the rotator cuff does not function and there is severe pain and instability.

Contact Us

For an appointment with a Cooper bone and Joint Institute shoulder repalcement expert, call 800.8.COOPER (800.826.6737).