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Shoulder Replacement

What is a Shoulder Replacement?

Your shoulder is a ball and socket-type joint made up of two main parts: the humerus (arm bone, which is the ball) and glenoid (socket). This is known as the gleno-humeral joint. When arthritis affects the shoulder, it can cause the lining of these joint surfaces to wear, causing pain and stiffness. During a shoulder replacement, the joint surfaces are replaced. There are mainly three types of shoulder replacement:

  •     In Total Anatomic Shoulder Replacement, the head of humerus is replaced with an artificial metal head and the glenoid with a plastic surface.
  •     In Reverse Shoulder Replacement again both surfaces are replaced but the relationship between the ball and the socket are reversed (the ball becomes the socket and the socket becomes the ball).
  •     In Shoulder Resurfacing the head of the humerus is replaced with a metal surface.


Replacing the worn surfaces with a replacement surface (prosthesis) will reduce the amount of pain and increase the range of movement available from your shoulder joint. This should result in you being able to move your arm more comfortably to do the activities of daily living.

Shoulder Replacement Surgery

This surgery is recommended for people with shoulder arthritis mainly affecting the shoulder joint when other alternative conservative treatments to help with pain and movement such as painkillers, injections, exercise and physiotherapy have failed. 

Following the operation, you will be taken to the recovery department. This is where you are monitored for the initial post-operative period. You will then be transferred to an orthopaedic ward. You will probably stay in hospital for about one to two days following your operation to start your rehabilitation and recover from the surgery.

You will be seen by an orthopaedic physiotherapist who will teach you how to put on and take off your sling, some basic exercises and they will also provide advice on general functional adaptations after your surgery and organise your outpatient physiotherapy follow up. You will be reviewed regularly by your surgeon and you will follow a rehabilitation program, for 3 months to a year, supervised by specialist physiotherapists.

Your arm will be resting in a sling for two to six weeks. You will not be able to fully use your arm for all activities of daily living during this period but the therapists will advise and guide you on what you can and cannot do. Wear your sling for rest and support, but remove it to complete your exercises throughout the day. 

Depending on the nature of your employment, you may be signed off from working for six weeks.

Download our Patient Information Leaflet below:

Shoulder Replacement leaflet

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