Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Resolving shoulder pain and immobility

Last modified: December 21, 2011

Beatrice Woods
Licensed Practical Nurse

Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Arthritic shoulder pain can literally be a heavy burden on the shoulders.  Muscles, tendons, and ligaments collaborate together to hold the ball and socket shoulder joint in place. The pivot movement of the ball and socket joint aids the shoulder in managing day to day functions.

Because the shoulder joint is greatly used it has an increased risk for injury. Shoulder pain can be related numerous factors. Overuse of the joint and trauma are common reasons for pain in the shoulder.  Typically the cause of the shoulder pain will influence the treatment method. Inflammation of the shoulder lining called arthritis is usually the main culprit of shoulder pain and discomfort.

shoulder pain can be short lived or continuous.  Therapy for simple shoulder pain includes resting the area, ice applications and medication to decease or alleviate the pain. Haunting shoulder pain can cause the joint to be tight, swollen, and reddened. Decreased shoulder movement and function, and impairment in shoulder range causing disability are typically the main reasons for shoulder replacement surgery.       

Risks For Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Complications for shoulder replacement include, unreasonable blood loss requiring blood replacement, infection, inadequate wound healing, and prosthesis malfunction.

Shoulder Replacement Surgical Procedure

For patient relaxation and pain control, the patient is given a regional or general anesthesia. The shoulder to be operated on is properly placed and sterilized. The orthopedic surgeon makes an incision over the affected shoulder joint. The surgeon continues to excise into the shoulder muscles revealing the shoulder ball and socket. Specialized tools are used to remove diseased shoulder tissue from shoulder surface and remold the shoulder socket to accept the socket implant.  The socket implant is connected to the socket using drilled holes and bone cement.

Then the surgeon removes the top of the long bone of the upper extremity is removed and cleans the interior area of the humerus to receive the implant. The metal implant is inserted into the soft tissue of the long bone. The implant is adjusted for a close fit or cemented in place.  The surgeon then puts the new ball into the new artificial shoulder socket. The surgeon tests the area and makes the needed alteration for the best shoulder utilization. When the surgeon is satisfied the shoulder tissue and incisions are sewn shut and a bandage is applied to the surgical site. Shoulder replacement surgery typically lasts 2 hours.

Recovery For Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Prior to having surgery the patient is educated on after surgery care, exercises and expectations that aid in recovery. Coughing, turning and deep breathing is encouraged after the patient is awake to lower the risk of after surgery lung complications. Ice applications and extremity elevation promotes healing and helps control pain and swelling. Physical therapy, arm sling use, and suture care instructions must be followed for adequate rehabilitation to take place. The usual length of stay at the hospital is 2-3 days after surgery but this will be different for every patient. 

Cost Of Shoulder Replacement

The cost of shoulder replacement surgery will vary from patient to patient. The style of implant used, insurance type and length of stay in the hospital are just a few variables that will determine the cost.

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This article was written by the medical research team at does not intend for any of the information on this site to be regarded as medical advice - it is meant as a starting point for understanding treatment details and options before contacting a registered, licensed doctor. We advise all patients to seek medical advice from a doctor.
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