Shoulder replacement surgery

A shoulder replacement, or arthroplasty, is a highly successful procedure used to treat damage to the bone caused by arthritis, fractures or restricted blood flow to the bone and rotator cuff injuries. In shoulder replacement surgery, your surgeon removes the damaged parts of the shoulder and replaces them with artificial components, called prosthesis. Shoulder replacement surgeries, though not as common as knee or hip replacements, are just as effective for relieving joint pain.


Introducing the service

Following a consultation, your Schoen Clinic Surgeon will recommend the best surgery for your shoulder, allowing you to receive the most appropriate treatment for you. They will use the most advanced surgical procedures and implants in our state-of-the-art operating theatres, and you will receive first-rate care following your surgery at Schoen Clinic London to help you recover quickly.

There are 3 surgical techniques for treating damaged shoulders. The quality of the rotator cuff tendons within the shoulder usually determines which type of shoulder replacement will be most appropriate for you.

The most common procedure a is total shoulder replacement. It replaces the ball at the top of your arm's bone with a prosthetic ball that is attached to the remaining bone and the socket is resurfaced.

In a partial shoulder replacement, only the ball of the shoulder is replaced.

If you have a damaged rotator cuff, you will most likely need a reverse shoulder replacement. It is also used after another shoulder replacement surgery has failed. The metal ball is joined to your shoulder bones, and a prosthetic socket at the top of your arm is implanted.

Who is the ideal shoulder replacement surgery candidate?

Shoulder replacement surgery may be considered if the bones in your shoulder are damaged due to a fracture, or inflammatory conditions like arthritis. If your shoulder is painful and you have restricted movement, and alternative nonsurgical treatments have been unsuccessful, surgery may be recommended.

Do you have the following symptoms?

  • Severe pain in the shoulder
  • Shoulder pain interfering with everyday activities
  • Moderate to severe pain in the shoulder while resting/sleeping
  • Weakness or loss of mobility in the shoulder
  • Failure to improve with conservative treatments


Because a shoulder replacement is major surgery, your Schoen Clinic Consultant will assess you to see if you are a suitable candidate. You’ll need to inform them about any pre-existing medical conditions or medications you are taking. Some over the counter medicines, such as aspirin or ibuprofen can cause excessive bleeding so it’s important that these be stopped 14 days prior to surgery. If you are a smoker, it is also important that you refrain from smoking prior to surgery and throughout the recovery period, as smoking can have a negative impact on your recovery.

Conditions and causes:

Our shoulder Specialists at Schoen Clinic London are experts in treating all conditions of the shoulder, always striving to achieve the best possible result for patients. In most cases, they will endeavour to extend the lifespan of the natural shoulder joint through outcome-based, data-driven conservative treatment. Where conservative treatment is no longer suitable for shoulder pain, our experienced Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons are leaders in the field of shoulder surgery.

Conditions which cause pain and disability of the shoulder, usually leading to shoulder replacement surgery are:

  • Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease)

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Post-traumatic arthritis

  • Rotator cuff tear arthropathy

  • Avascular Necrosis

  • Severe fractures

  • Previous failed shoulder replacement surgery


The purpose of a shoulder replacement is to alleviate your pain, increase your mobility and improve your quality of life. The average shoulder replacement lasts between 15 and 20 years. However, a number of our patients have used their implants for much longer and enjoy significantly improved function long-term. When the artificial joint's lifespan has been reached, you'll need a shoulder revision.

Our aim is always to provide the best possible outcome for you, be it surgical or non-surgical, and our Specialists will always aim to preserve the natural joint for as long as possible before undertaking a joint replacement surgery.

Shoulder replacement surgery is regularly performed by Schoen Clinic London Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons, who use the most up-to-date techniques to replace damaged joints that cause pain and restrict movement. A shoulder replacement procedure takes 1 to 2 hours to complete and is usually performed under a general anaesthetic or a spinal anaesthetic, depending on which is the best option for you.

During the procedure, your Consultant makes a 6 inch incision in your shoulder, usually in the front but it can be at the side. The soft tissues (tendons and ligaments) are then cut through to get to the shoulder joint. The damaged joints are removed and artificial joints are implanted in their place. The artificial joint (prosthetic) will be connected to the bone with acrylic cement or a covering that will allow it to bind to the bone. After, the wound is closed with staples, stitches or surgical tape and you’ll be transferred to the recovery room and cared for by our nursing team.

When you come round in the recovery room, you’ll notice that your shoulder is covered by a large dressing. You may also have a small tube to drain excess fluid from the wound and a drip to keep you hydrated and to provide additional pain relief. Your arm will be in a sling and there may be bruising and inflammation in your arm and hand, as well as the inability to move your arm and hand for up to 24 hours.

A nurse will check your blood pressure and pulse, as well as the wound and take you to your room when you’re ready. The average length of stay in hospital following a shoulder replacement is 2-3 days. You will be given pain relief medication to take for the first few days. Our resident Consultant Intensivists are on site 24/7, so in the unlikely event you experience severe, ongoing pain, you have the highest level of care available to you at all times.

Most patients have instant relief from arthritic pain, but for you to resume your normal daily activities without restriction is usually 3 to 6 months. It's likely that you won't be able to drive for at least 8 weeks.

Aftercare is crucial, and the inpatient professional physiotherapy team will continue to care for you after surgery. The outpatient physiotherapy teams' aftercare will be closely coordinated to guarantee your maximum healing and return to normal activities as quickly as possible.

Working together, our multidisciplinary team of experts develop your individual rehabilitation plan to give you optimal results and the best possible outcome following your surgery. They will provide you with a recovery programme including exercises to strengthen your shoulder, improve range-of-motion and flexibility of the shoulder joint. Exercise is an essential aspect of your at home care, so it’s important to follow the individual plan set out for you.

When you leave our hospital your arm will be in a sling to protect and support your shoulder for the first 2-6 weeks following your shoulder replacement surgery. Try to avoid soaking the area in water until the wound has thoroughly healed. Any stitches or staples will be removed at your post-op follow-up appointment a few weeks after surgery.

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