Shoulder Replacement

Shoulder Replacement: Factors to Consider, Cost, Procedure and Recovery

Shoulder replacement surgery is necessary when you suffer from shoulder damage. The invasive procedure replaces the damaged part of your shoulder with artificial parts. The main goal of the procedure is to relieve the pain due to shoulder problems. The surgery also improves the mobility of your shoulder. It is commonly suggested for people who suffer from arthritis or severe fracture in the shoulder joint.

Factor Influencing Shoulder Replacement Surgery

shoulder replacement

So, who are the ideal candidates for the procedure? The surgery is the best option for people who experience unbearable pain in their shoulder. When you find no relief to the pain after undergoing one or more conservative treatment options, then your doctor suggests an invasive procedure to manage pain. So, people suffering from the following condition need to undergo shoulder replacement surgery.



It is the type of arthritis common among older people. Due to the condition, the articular cartilage in your shoulder wears away. The cartilage is responsible for padding the bone. So, without it, you can suffer from stiffness and pain. The condition gradually progresses, leading to joint surface degeneration. It becomes difficult to move your shoulder.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)


Shoulder arthritis can occur due to the immune system attacking your joints by mistake. The autoimmune condition can cause pain and inflammation in your shoulder joints. It is the condition causing warmth and tenderness in your shoulder joints.

Avascular Necrosis

Avascular Necrosis

The condition is also referred to as osteonecrosis. It can lead to a loss of blood to the bone. As a result, the bone dies. The condition commonly affects the hip joint. But, it can also affect your shoulder joints.

Broken Shoulder

Broken Shoulder

A bad break of your shoulder bone requires surgery to correct it. The fractures carry a high risk of arthritis when you fail to treat it properly. The broken shoulder may not heal properly or heal in an abnormal position. So, you need surgical intervention to prevent complications.

Your surgeon can help you decide if invasive surgery is the ideal option for your condition. So, people who experience the following have good chances of getting positive results from the surgery:

  • Weakness in the shoulder
  • Loss of motion in your shoulder
  • Severe pain in the shoulder region, interfering with your normal life
  • Pain while sleeping or resting

After unsuccessfully trying the different conservative treatments like medications, injections or physical therapy, your doctor suggests the surgical option. But, the surgery is not effective for everyone. It is less successful in people who suffer from the following:

It is a major surgery as you have to stay in the hospital for several days. So, you need to discuss the options and other details to make the correct decision.

Types Of Shoulder Replacement Surgery

The orthopedic surgeon can suggest different types of surgeries depending on your condition. The surgery is classified into the following types:

Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery

As the name suggests, the surgeon replaces the ball and socket completely. Remember, your shoulder is a ball and socket joint. So, using the procedure, the surgeon replaces the damaged ball and socket with an artificial shoulder joint. The metal/plastic joint replaces the severely damaged shoulder.

 Partial Shoulder Replacement

 Partial Shoulder Replacement

People who have damaged one side of their shoulder joint or want to continue lifting heavy objects need to undergo the type of surgery. During the surgery, the orthopedic surgeon replaces only the damaged ball of the shoulder joint.

 Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery

 Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery

People suffering from arthritis and suffer from rotator cuff tear needs to undergo the type of surgery. The surgery is also selected when other surgeries do not work. During the procedure, the ball and socket in your shoulder joint are reversed. So, the surgeon attaches a metal ball on your shoulder bones. The surgeon also implants a socket at the top of the arm. By performing the surgery, you can move the muscles for facilitating arm movement. But, the muscles in your rotator cuff does not move. So, to prevent further damage to the rotator cuff.

Shoulder Revision Surgery

The surgery is for people who have undergone a failed shoulder replacement surgery previously. The failure is linked to incorrect positioning of the implant, or the implants becoming loose or development of infection.

Finding The Right Doctor For The Surgery

When you plan to undergo surgery to correct the shoulder, you need to find a highly qualified orthopedic surgeon. An experienced and expert surgeon performs the surgery without any complications. But, how do you find the best surgeon who can offer you good results? You need to keep the following factors in mind:

Ask For Reviews

You need to perform research to find the list of the best orthopedic surgeons in your area. It is important to search for reviews about the surgeon on your list. You can ask the hospital where they work, other healthcare professionals, and your friends for the recommendation. By spending some time on the internet or making some calls, you can collect information about the doctor. It is always better to get a review from a patient who has undergone surgery performed by the doctor. The patients can rate the doctor based on their experience. So, you can get an insight on your experience while you choose the doctor for undergoing the surgery.

Find Out Credentials And Experience

You need to take time to research the credentials of your surgeon. A board-certified orthopedic surgeon is an ideal choice. Apart from the good credentials, the surgeon must also have the necessary experience performing such surgeries regularly. An experienced surgeon has the proficiency to treat the condition and overcome any unexpected complications. They have the skill to anticipate problems and deal with them effectively. You must also confirm the doctor has no charges of malpractice. The doctor must have no disciplinary action against him/her. You can access the information from the internet or check with the hospital.

Performance Of The Hospital

The quality of the hospital is an essential factor before deciding your surgery. The orthopedic team needs sophisticated equipment and trained support staff to complete the surgery without any complications. So, a top-rated hospital has a highly skilled team of health professionals who maintain high standards. Evaluate the hospital based on the complication rates and mortality rates to ensure you make the right choice. The surgeon you choose must work in a hospital with good ratings. If the hospital has low ratings, then avoid it. Try to find if the surgeon works in another hospital with better ratings.

A hospital falling short in quality cannot offer you the best results. If the surgeon you choose does not work on a top-rated hospital, then select another surgeon who works in a good hospital. So, you can ensure the best possible outcome of the surgery.

Talk To The Doctor

As you narrow down your list of orthopedic surgeons, call each surgeon’s office and ask for a consult appointment to meet and interview the doctor. You need to ask questions arising in your mind. The doctor must offer to answer them. It will make you feel comfortable. You need to develop trust in the doctor. So, check if the surgeon respects your opinions. They must also talk to you to make you feel safe in their hands.

Cost Associated With Shoulder Replacement Surgery

In the USA, shoulder replacement surgery has a higher price tag attached to it. You need to spend at least $10,000 to $21,000. The costs vary based on the type of implants you choose and the type of hospital you opt for getting the surgery. While in the UK, you need to spend £ 12,000 and above for the surgery. The costs depend on the number of days you stay in the hospital.

If you wish to undergo the surgery in a good hospital with accredited surgeons, then you can choose India. The main attraction is the low cost associated with the surgery. You never have to spend too much money to get high-quality medical care. In India, the cost of the surgery is $7,000 to $9,000.

Preparing Before Shoulder Replacement Surgery

The surgery to replace the surgery is a serious one, which requires several weeks of rest. So, before undergoing the procedure, you need to prepare yourself mentally. You must also visit your doctor to get a complete physical examination. It will inform about your overall health. Healthy people can undergo the surgery. Else, you need to manage the health problem before undergoing the surgery. The doctor offers you certain guidelines:

Stop Other Medications

You need to stop taking certain medications before the surgery. It is ideal to stop it a couple of weeks before undergoing the procedure. You need to stop taking the following medications:

  • Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Arthritis Medications
  • Blood thinners

These medications can trigger too much bleeding. It is not ideal when you undergo surgery.

Wear Comfortable Clothes

Wearing loose-fitting clothes are ideal before the procedure. You need to prepare yourself for hospital stay after the surgery. Depending on the complexity of your surgery, you need to stay three days or more.

Avoid Driving

You cannot drive for at least six weeks after the surgery. So, you need to arrange for someone to take you home after the surgery.

Home Planning

You cannot move your shoulder for at least six weeks. So, you need to make some simple changes in your home before undergoing the surgery. It makes your recovery period easier. Since you cannot reach cupboards or high shelves immediately after the surgery, place items on lower shelves. It is important to make it easier to access the things you need daily. After getting discharged from the hospital, you need assistance with bathing, dressing, cooking, and doing laundry. So, ask your family members or close friends to help you with the tasks. If you have no support at your home, then you need to stay in a rehabilitation facility. A short stay, until you become independent, is important for recovery.

Shoulder Replacement Surgery

To undergo the surgery, your surgeon can give you general anesthesia or regional anesthesia. When you receive general anesthesia, you become unconscious for the duration of the surgery. With regional anesthesia, you are awake, but do not feel the pain. The surgery can take two hours or more depending on the severity of the condition. If you are undergoing complete replacement surgery, then the doctors replace the damaged parts of the shoulder. So, the humeral head, also known as the joint ball of the shoulder gets replaced with a metal ball. The socket of the shoulder called a glenoid is replaced by a plastic surface. Therefore, the damaged parts of your shoulder are now completely interchanged with artificial parts.

If you are undergoing partial replacement surgery, then only the humeral head is replaced. So, the ball of the shoulder joint is replaced with an artificial one. After the surgery, you are transferred to the recovery room. The doctor and other support staff monitor your condition for several hours. Once you wake up, you get transferred to a normal hospital room for recuperating.

Types Of Implant Materials Used In Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Since the surgery aims to replace the damaged parts of your shoulder with prosthetics, you need to get more information about it. A surgeon can use different types of implants in the surgery. Read ahead to know gain comprehensive information:

Total Shoulder Replacements

The surgeon can select from many types of implants for total replacement surgery. The surgeon replaces the damaged humeral head with a metal ball. While they use plastic socket over the glenoid surface. In most cases, the surgeon uses a polyethylene socket. It is cemented to the bone surrounding it. In the majority of the cases, the new artificial joints have stems. So, it promotes natural bone growth. The prosthetics allow growth into the material.

Reverse Shoulder Replacements

The surgeon uses artificial components like metal and plastic for the surgery. But, the surgeons reverse it. So, the surgeon attaches the metal ball to your existing socket. While the upper humerus has a prosthetic (plastic) socket. So, the place that held your natural ball now has a new plastic socket.

Recovery After Shoulder Replacement Surgery

As the operation is major, you can experience pain and discomfort after the procedure. So, you have a long road to recovery ahead. During the recovery process, your doctor suggests certain guidelines to follow like:

Take Pain Medications

You can experience pain and discomfort at the surgery site. So, your doctor gives you a pain injection when you are in the hospital. After getting discharged, you need to take oral pain killers for relieving pain. Your doctor prescribes anti-inflammatory medication to prevent any inflammation. You need to take aspirin as suggested by your doctor to prevent blood clots. Follow the guidelines provided by your doctor to take medication correctly.

Avoid Arm Movements

After getting discharged from the hospital, try to avoid arm movements. You need to place your arm in a sling for at least two to four weeks. Reducing the arm function can speed the healing process. It is important to have less arm function for a month after your shoulder replacement surgery. Try not to lift any heavy objects. Refrain from activities that require any pushing or pulling.

Resuming Daily Activity

You can resume gentle activities after two to six weeks of undergoing the surgery. But, you need to limit certain activities like driving or exercise. People who have had the surgery need to refrain from driving for at least six weeks

Taking Care Of Incision

The surgery requires stitches that may run along the wound. You can see the incisions in front of the shoulder. In the majority of the cases, the surgeon removes the incisions, one week after the surgery. You need to visit your doctor for the follow-up appointment after a week. But, you need to observe the incision site closely. If you observe redness, swelling or pus formation, then you need to see the doctor immediately. It is also important to seek a doctor’s assistance when you have high fever and pain at the incision site.

Taking Care Of Incision

The nursing staff covers your incision site with a dry bandage before leaving the hospital. You need to take care not to dirty or wet the incision wet. It can affect wound healing adversely. Take care to change the dressing daily. It is not uncommon to see blood on the dressing. So, do not panic. You must not go into a bath or take a shower until you see your surgeon for the first follow-up appointment. Getting the incision wet before it heals at out you at risk of developing an infection. Therefore, wait until the doctor gives you all clear to let the water run over the incision site or take a shower.


Rehabilitation starts from the next day of the surgery. Your healthcare staff will help you move soon after the surgery. After you leave the hospital, you need to perform all the home exercises soon after the surgery as per your doctor’s recommendation. The exercises can gradually enhance the strength in your shoulder. But, you need to take it slow as it takes around six months for your shoulder to become normal. Gradually you can return to more vigorous activities slowly.

Place a cold pack on your shoulder when you feel soreness. You must never stop the activity as it can put a dent in your progress. If you feel sore after the rehabilitation process, then reduce the activity a bit. Stay on the exercise regime to function more independently. With rehabilitation, you can recover your endurance, strength, and mobility of your shoulder. The total rehabilitation program can take several months to see results.

Complications Associated With Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Like any surgery, you can face some complications associated with the procedure. People who suffer from the side effects are only 5% of the total people who undergo the invasive procedure. But, you can experience problems like:

  • Fracture
  • Infection
  • A reaction to anesthesia
  • Rotator cuff tear
  • Blood vessel or nerve damage
  • Dislocation or loosening of the replacement components


By undergoing shoulder replacement surgery, you can improve the range of motion and get relief from pain. It is a safe and effective option to alleviate shoulder pain and resume your regular activities. The modern shoulder replacements can last for more than fifteen years. So, talk to your doctor if you feel like the ideal candidate for the surgery. Select a good surgeon to undergo the procedure to prevent any complications and get rid of your discomfort without any problems.

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