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Shoulder Replacement

Although shoulder replacement is less common than knee or hip replacement, it is just as successful in relieving joint pain. Total shoulder replacement, also known as total shoulder arthroplasty, is an extremely successful procedure for treating the severe pain and stiffness that often result at the end stage of various forms of arthritis or degenerative joint disease of the shoulder joint.

If nonsurgical treatments like medications and activity changes are no longer helpful for relieving pain, you may want to consider talking to a doctor about shoulder joint replacement surgery. Joint replacement surgery is a safe and effective procedure to relieve pain and help you resume everyday activities. In shoulder replacement surgery, the damaged parts of the shoulder are removed and replaced with artificial components, called a prosthesis. The treatment options are either replacement of just the head of the humerus bone, or replacement of both the ball and the socket.

Arthritis is the leading cause in shoulder pain. Arthritis is the result of the cartilage in a joint being worn out over time. Several conditions can cause shoulder pain and disability, and lead patients to consider shoulder joint replacement surgery. These conditions are as follows:

  • Osteoarthritis (Degenerative Joint Disease)
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Post-traumatic Arthritis
  • Rotator Cuff Tear Arthropathy
  • Avascular Necrosis (Osteonecrosis)
  • Severe Fractures
  • Failed Previous Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Generally, non-operative modes of treatment are considered first, such as physical therapy and medication, but total shoulder replacement can provide pain relief and increased mobility for those who have not experienced relief. Reasons to have a total shoulder replacement:

  • Severe shoulder pain that interferes with everyday activities, such as reaching into a cabinet, dressing, toileting, and washing.
  • Moderate to severe pain while resting. This pain may be severe enough to prevent a good night’s sleep.
  • Loss of motion and/or weakness in the shoulder.
  • Failure to substantially improve with other treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, or physical therapy.

The major indication for a total shoulder replacement is pain that will not respond to non-surgical treatment. This pain may be the result of abnormalities and changes in the joint surfaces as a result of arthritis or fractures or any of the other conditions listed above.

Your consultation visit and initial appointment with the orthopedic surgeon will include a series of x-rays, a physical examination and a thorough review of your medical history.

The primary goal of total shoulder replacement surgery is to ease pain with secondary goals of improving motion, strength and function. Many patients return to the sports they love like tennis, golf, and swimming.

If you have pain in your shoulder, limited function or difficulty sleeping it is important to try arthritis medications and other non-surgical treatment options.  If the medication or alternative methods of treatment do not relieve your shoulder pain, then it is time to discuss a shoulder replacement. A thorough examination by an orthopedic surgeon should give you an idea or recommendation.

A shoulder replacement implant consists of three parts:

  • A new socket (glenoid) that is implanted within the shoulder blade (scapula)
  • A new “ball” to replace the head of the top of the arm bone (humerus)
  • A stem that secures the ball within the arm bone
Yes, physical therapy plays a very important role in your recovery. You should see a physical therapist soon after your operation and throughout your stay at the hospital. If you go home, you will likely need a therapist come to visit you or make appointments at a nearby physical therapy center. You should see a physical therapist about 2-3 times a week.

The estimate is around 15 years, but that can vary, they last longer in some patients. It is difficult to predict how long each patient’s shoulder replacement will last, specifically because the materials we use now are improved from those 7-8 years ago.

Shoulder replacement surgery is very successful in relieving pain. Most patients are very satisfied with the degree of pain relief. However, these shoulder replacements are not perfect and may ache a little when the weather changes or if you are too active. Range of motion and function can be improved by this surgery but the amount of change is less predictable than pain relief.


NASA Bone & Joint is a Board Certified Orthopedic Center. Our two physicians, Dr. O’Neill and Dr. Monmouth are both board certified in general orthopedics. Dr. O’Neill is also certified in sports medicine. Both doctors trained at Harvard and have been practicing orthopedics in the Nassau Bay area for 25 years.

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Phone: 281-333-5114


Address: 16840 Buccaneer Suite 100 Houston, Texas 77058

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