Pacific Rim Orthopedic Surgeons

Shoulder Joint Replacement

What is Shoulder Joint Replacement?

Shoulder joint replacement surgery, also known as shoulder replacement surgery and shoulder arthroplasty, removes damaged areas of bone and replaces them with metal or plastic implants. There are three types of procedures that are categorized as shoulder replacement surgery, but all share the goal of relieving pain and restoring the range of motion in the surgery.

To better educate patients who may need shoulder joint replacement surgery, we have outlined the different types of operations and what can be expected pre and post-surgery.

A doctor showing a patient the shoulder joint.

Why Should Joint Replacement Surgery is Performed

The shoulder is made up of a ball and socket joint, which can become painful and difficult to move due to damage to the shoulder from either trauma or medical conditions:

Rotator cuff injuries

An injury to the group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint and causes pain, and damage to the cartilage and bone in the joint.


If a fracture occurs at the upper end of the humerus then a joint replacement surgery may be needed.


Also known as the wear-and-tear arthritis. The disease damages the cartilage that covers the ends of bones which helps joints to move smoothly.

Rheumatoid arthritis

This is caused by an overactive immune system that creates inflammation that can damage the cartilage and, sometimes, the underlying bone in the joint.


This is when a bone is starved of blood, caused by shoulder conditions that disrupt the flow of blood to the humerus.

3d rendered medically accurate illustration of a shoulder replacement.

Types of Shoulder Replacement Surgery

As mentioned earlier, there are several types of shoulder replacement surgery that are recommended depending on the type of joint damage a patient is suffering from. An orthopedic surgeon may recommend one of the following operations to restore the shoulder joint:

  • Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement
    This type of surgery replaces both the ball and the socket in the shoulder, but the implants are reversed. The ball is attached to the shoulder blade while the socket is attached to the upper arm bone. The reverse shoulder replacement surgery is the preferred option when the rotator cuff is severely damaged.
  • Anatomic Shoulder Replacement
    This type of shoulder joint surgery requires the ball and the socket to be replaced by implants that resemble the natural shape of the bones.
  • Partial Shoulder Replacement
    Only the ball or head of the joint is replaced in this type of joint replacement procedure and is usually recommended only if the ball side of the joint is damaged.

Shoulder Joint Surgery Overview

While there are different types of shoulder joint replacement surgery, they follow the same general steps during the operation and post/pre-surgery.

Preparing for Surgery

Your primary care provider will evaluate referring you to an orthopedic surgeon who will then look over your symptoms and perform a physical exam. The exam may include X-rays and computerized tomography of the shoulder to determine if a shoulder replacement is needed, as well as what type of surgery.

If shoulder replacement is recommended, the surgeon may require clearance from your primary care physician to see if you are healthy enough for the operation. they will note any chronic medical conditions that may affect the surgery or recovery, discuss medications being taken, and talk with you about home planning.

Before the surgery itself, you’ll meet with your provider to discuss the anesthesia, what to expect, and answer any questions you may have.

General Shoulder Surgery Description

The specific surgical techniques used depend on the type of shoulder replacement surgery recommended. Generally, the techniques used in shoulder surgery are minimally invasive, requiring fewer incisions which allows for a shorter recovery time.

After the damaged joint has been removed, the orthopedic surgeon will place the artificial prosthesis before using stitches, staples, or surgical glue to close the incision and bandage the area. Depending on the type of joint replacement performed, you may need to wear a brace or sling during recovery.

Make an Appointment with our Orthopedic Surgeons

We at Proliance Pacific Rim Orthopedic Surgeons strive to help our patients achieve a return to normal activity through compassionate and exceptional care using evidence-based medicine in a patient-friendly environment. We are committed to bringing you a high standard of care that is patient-focused, with the goal of improving your quality of life.