Total Shoulder Replacement

Will an Artificial Shoulder Joint Last Forever?

No, as successful as most of these procedures are, over the years, the artificial joints can become loose and unstable or wear out, requiring a revision (repeat) surgery.

Recent improvements in surgical techniques and instrumentation will help to further the success of your treatment. The availability of advanced materials, such as titanium and advanced plastics provide orthopaedic surgeons with options that may help to increase the longevity of the artificial joint.

"Total Shoulder Replacement" is usually reserved for patients who require severe arthritic shoulder pain relief. However, when appropriate, the operation is being performed in greater numbers on younger patients thanks to new advances in artificial joint technology. Circumstances vary, but generally patients are considered for total joint replacement if:

  • Functional limitations restrict not only work and recreation, but also the ordinary activities of daily living.
  • Pain is not relieved by more conservative methods of treatment — such as medications (including, for the shoulder, injections of cortisone, a powerful anti-inflammatory medication) and physical therapy — and/or by restricting activities.
  • Stiffness in the joint is marked and, in the shoulder, significantly limits range of motion of the arm.
  • X-rays show advanced arthritis or other problems.

Shoulder Pain: Healthy Shoulder

Normal shoulder, showing healthy articular cartilage.

Shoulder Pain: Arthritic Shoulder

Diseased shoulder, showing worn cartilage.

Shoulder Pain: Replaced Shoulder

Post-operative shoulder with prosthesis in place.

What Is Total Joint Replacement?

Total joint replacement is a surgical procedure in which certain parts of an arthritic or damaged joint, such as a shoulder joint, are removed and replaced with a plastic or metal device called a prosthesis, or artificial joint. The artificial joint is designed to move just like a normal, healthy joint. The artificial shoulder joint can have either two or three parts, depending on the type of surgery required.

  • The humeral component (metal) is implanted in the humerus.
  • The humeral head component (metal) replaces the humeral head at the top of the humerus.
  • The glenoid component (plastic) replaces the surface of the glenoid socket.

There are two types of shoulder joint replacement procedures:

  • A partial shoulder joint replacement is used when the glenoid socket is intact and does not need to be replaced. In this procedure, the humeral component is implanted, and the humeral head is replaced.
  • A total shoulder joint replacement is used when the glenoid socket needs to be replaced. All three shoulder joint components are used in this procedure.