What is shoulder replacement?

In shoulder replacement surgery, the parts of the bones that rub together, have been damaged or have been broken are replaced with metal and plastic parts called implants. The procedure is intended to give you restored motion and reduce painful bone-on-bone contact.

Total Shoulder Replacement

Total shoulder replacement

In total shoulder replacement, the ball portion of the joint is replaced with a partial sphere made of metal. This partial sphere sits on top of a metal stem that fits down into the shaft of the humerus. The socket portion of the joint is replaced with an oblong disk with a cupped surface, which lines the socket and replaces the damaged cartilage. The partial sphere fits into this cupped surface to re-create the natural shoulder joint.


Stemless shoulder replacement

The stemless shoulder replacement is a type of total shoulder replacement. The "stemless" part in stemless shoulder refers to the ball portion of the joint. In a stemless implant, the humeral head (the metal sphere) does not sit on a traditional stem that fits down the humeral shaft as in the case of a traditional Total Shoulder, thereby preserving more of your natural bone. 

Partial shoulder replacement

In cases where significant damage is limited to only the ball portion of the joint, your doctor may consider a procedure that preserves the healthy socket of your shoulder. This is called a partial shoulder replacement. In a partial shoulder replacement, only one side (the diseased portion) of the joint is replaced, leaving the healthy portion untouched.

A successful partial shoulder replacement may relieve pain and preserve more of your natural shoulder. It may delay, and in some cases prevent, the need for total shoulder replacement.

Reverse Total Shoulder

Reverse shoulder replacement

If your rotator cuff is so damaged that it would not be able to support a traditional joint replacement, your surgeon may recommend a “reverse” shoulder replacement. This procedure reverses the ball and socket configuration of your shoulder, allowing other muscles to compensate for your damaged rotator cuff. Reverse total shoulder replacement can result in increased stability, strength and range-of-motion in your shoulder joint.

Is it time for shoulder replacement?

That’s a question you and your doctor will have to answer together. However, when non-surgical treatments aren’t providing relief for you to enjoy life the way you’d like, the time may be right to consider shoulder replacement surgery.

You and your doctor must consider many other factors prior to surgery, including your age, overall health and bone density. Every surgical procedure has risks and benefits. Your individual results will depend on personal circumstances. Your doctor will provide post-operative directions. Remember that recovery takes time.

Doctors may delay shoulder replacement for as long as possible in favor of less invasive treatments. However, if you have advanced joint disease, you may evaluate with your doctor whether a shoulder replacement offers the chance for relief from pain and a return to normal activities.

When your life is dictated by the limitations caused by your shoulder pain, consider speaking with an orthopaedic surgeon about joint replacement.

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Talk to your surgeon about whether joint replacement or another treatment is right for you and the risks of the procedure, including the risk of implant wear, loosening or failure, and pain, swelling and infection. Zimmer Biomet does not practice medicine; only a surgeon can answer your questions regarding your individual symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.