A shoulder replacement involves replacing your shoulder joint if it has been damaged by injury or worn away by arthritis. When arthritis affects the shoulder it causes the lining of these joint surfaces to wear, causing pain and stiffness.

During a shoulder replacement, both the head of the humerus and the socket are replaced with artificial surfaces. Artificial shoulder parts are usually made of metal or plastic, or a combination of these.

Shoulder surgery at The Horder Centre

Presented by Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Jamie Buchanan, this video offers advice on shoulder pain and the surgery options available.

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Are there any alternatives to a total shoulder replacement?

  • Simple painkillers such as paracetamol and anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen can help control the pain.
  • Regular moderate exercise can help to reduce stiffness in your arthritic shoulder. 
  • A steroid injection into the shoulder joint can sometimes reduce pain and stiffness.
  • All of these measures become less effective as your arthritis gets worse.

What does the operation involve?

The operation usually takes an hour to 90 minutes. A variety of anaesthetic techniques are possible. 

Your surgeon will make a cut on the front of your shoulder and remove the damaged ball (head of the humerus). They will replace the ball and sometimes also the socket. The new ball is made of metal and the socket is usually made of plastic (see figure 1).

The shoulder replacement is fixed into the bone using a special coating on the arm side of your shoulder joint.

What complications can happen?

General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Chest infection
  • Heart attack or stroke

Specific complications

  • Damage to nerves around your shoulder
  • Infection
  • Loosening
  • Rotator-cuff tears
  • Dislocation
  • Stiff shoulder

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Copyright © 2018 EIDO Healthcare Limited
The operation and treatment information on this webpage is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by the Horder Centre. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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