Shoulder & Elbow Surgical Education

The information contained on this page is designed to provide patients and physical therapists with basic information on common surgical procedures. This service should supplement the information provided at your patient consultation office visit. Click on a topic below to view more information.

Shoulder Replacement Or Total Shoulder Arthroplasty

Shoulder arthritis is the loss of cartilage in the shoulder joint which causes both pain and stiffness. There are many forms of shoulder arthritis - from osteoarthritis (wear and tear) to rheumatoid arthritis to avascular necrosis. The treatment is based on the type of arthritis and the severity of the disease. Treatment options include anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy to regain flexibility, injections, and replacement.

Shoulder replacement has been around since the early 1970s and has evolved significantly to include the components we have today. The basic concept is to replace the arthritic ball portion of the joint with metal (chrome/cobalt alloy) and replace the cup side of the joint with plastic (polyethelyne). This converts the painful bone on bone arthritis to a smooth metal on plastic joint. The goal is pain relief and increased range of motion.

Shoulder replacements have been around as long as hip and knee replacements and have been shown to last as long as these replacements. Generally, this is not well recognized as knee replacements are 18 times more common than shoulder replacements. However, the number of shoulder replacement procedures is on the rise with an aging and more active population.

Shoulder replacement is a technically demanding operation in which attention to detail is critical. Recent studies have found that the results of shoulder replacement depend on many factors including surgical experience. Surgeons who perform the operation more often generally had better results. We perform over 100 replacements each year, including revision or repeat replacements. We also perform reverse total shoulder replacements, which are reserved for special situations where there is a massive rotator cuff tear with arthritis.

Below are some X-rays before and after replacement.