A shoulder replacement or “arthroplasty” relieves pain, weakness, and other symptoms caused by damage to the shoulder joint. It’s often recommended for people with arthritis and is hugely successful.
There are different types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis (or wear and tear), cuff tear arthritis and inflammatory arthritis. Each affects the joint in different ways, so the type of shoulder replacement you will need will depend on the type of arthritis you have.
Shoulder replacement is a very effective operation with a long track record of success, but as with any major surgery, there are risks. These include infection, fracture and dislocation. Your surgeon will discuss the best type of shoulder replacement for you and the relevant risks, before moving forward with your treatment.
What does shoulder surgery involve?
When you have a shoulder replacement, you’ll be seated upright while an incision is made at the front of your shoulder. You’ll typically be under general anaesthetic (so you’ll be asleep) and be given a local anaesthetic to numb your arm. This will help make sure you don’t feel any pain when you wake up after your operation..
Depending on how severe the damage is and how your shoulder joint has been affected, your replacement could be done in one of three ways:
- Anatomic total shoulder replacement. This is where both the ball and the socket are replaced (in the ball and socket joint). The implants will resemble the natural shape of your bones.
- Reverse total shoulder replacement. This is where both the ball and the socket are replaced, but the implants are reversed. The ball is attached to the shoulder blade and the socket is attached to the upper arm bone. This option is usually offered if your rotator cuff is badly damaged.
- Partial shoulder replacement. This is where only the ball of the joint is replaced. This option may be recommended if only the ball side of your joint is damaged.
Generally, the operation takes about 2 hours, and you’ll usually need to stay in hospital for 1 to 3 nights following the procedure.
Shoulder replacement recovery
You’ll start gentle physiotherapy immediately after your t surgery and be given pain relief regularly. You’ll need to wear a sling for roughly 4-6 weeks, during which time you won’t be able to drive. Usually, you’ll have stitches, which will be removed 10 days after your operation. Physiotherapy is extremely beneficial in the recovery period (6-8 weeks), but it can take up to 6 months to fully benefit from a joint replacement. Regular follow-up appointments will be arranged with your surgeon sothey can make sure you’re healing well.
Most people have no pain and benefit from improved strength and range of motion once they’ve fully recovered.
Get in touch
To ask a question about a shoulder replacement or to book an appointment, get in touch with our team Monday-Friday, 8am – 6pm, or Saturday 9am – 2pm, on 020 7806 4004 or email [email protected].
If you’re paying for yourself, you don’t need a referral from your GP. Simply book an appointment!
If you have insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa, Aviva), contact your insurer to get treatment authorisation. In most cases, you’ll also need a referral letter from your GP.
If you don’t have a GP, you can use our private GP practice.