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Shoulder Replacement

Damage to the joint from an injury or wear and tear can cause shoulder pain, weakness and stiffness, and stop you from doing the things you love.

If your shoulder pain is affecting your quality of life, a shoulder replacement surgery might be your best option. Like a knee or hip replacement, the procedure involves removing the arthritic joint surfaces and replacing them with an implant. It’s a common and successful operation for arthritis.

Shoulder replacement

A shoulder replacement or “arthroplasty” relieves pain, weakness, and other symptoms caused by damage to the shoulder joint. It’s often recommended for people with arthritis and is hugely successful.

There are different types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis (or wear and tear), cuff tear arthritis and inflammatory arthritis. Each affects the joint in different ways, so the type of shoulder replacement you will need will depend on the type of arthritis you have.

Shoulder replacement is a very effective operation with a long track record of success, but as with any major surgery, there are risks. These include infection, fracture and dislocation. Your surgeon will discuss the best type of shoulder replacement for you and the relevant risks, before moving forward with your treatment.

What does shoulder surgery involve?

When you have a shoulder replacement, you’ll be seated upright while an incision is made at the front of your shoulder. You’ll typically be under general anaesthetic (so you’ll be asleep) and be given a local anaesthetic to numb your arm. This will help make sure you don’t feel any pain when you wake up after your  operation..

Depending on how severe the damage is and how your shoulder joint has been affected, your replacement could be done in one of three ways:

  • Anatomic total shoulder replacement. This is where both the ball and the socket are replaced (in the ball and socket joint). The implants will resemble the natural shape of your bones.
  • Reverse total shoulder replacement. This is where both the ball and the socket are replaced, but the implants are reversed. The ball is attached to the shoulder blade and the socket is attached to the upper arm bone. This option is usually offered if your rotator cuff is badly damaged.
  • Partial shoulder replacement. This is where only the ball of the joint is replaced. This option may be recommended if only the ball side of your joint is damaged.

Generally, the operation takes about 2 hours, and you’ll usually need to stay in hospital for 1 to 3 nights following the procedure.

Shoulder replacement recovery

You’ll start gentle physiotherapy immediately after your t surgery and be given pain relief regularly. You’ll need to wear a sling for roughly 4-6 weeks, during which time you won’t be able to drive. Usually, you’ll have stitches, which will be removed 10 days after your operation. Physiotherapy is extremely beneficial in the recovery period (6-8 weeks), but it can take up to 6 months to fully benefit from a joint replacement. Regular follow-up appointments will be arranged with your surgeon sothey can make sure you’re healing well.

Most people have no pain and benefit from improved strength and range of motion once they’ve fully recovered.

Get in touch

To ask a question about a shoulder replacement or to book an appointment, get in touch with our team Monday-Friday, 8am – 6pm, or Saturday 9am – 2pm, on 020 7806 4004 or email shoulderunit@hje.org.uk

If you’re paying for yourself, you don’t need a referral from your GP. Simply book an appointment!

If you have insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa, Aviva), contact your insurer to get treatment authorisation. In most cases, you’ll also need a referral letter from your GP.

If you don’t have a GP, you can use our private GP practice.

orthopaedics clinic

Shoulder Clinic

With a team of experts, our London-based Shoulder Unit offers diagnosis and treatment of injuries and musculoskeletal conditions affecting the shoulder. Our state-of-the-art facilities include operating theatres, physiotherapy and imaging.

A patient speaking to a receptionist

Patient information

Our Hospital is renowned for providing exemplary levels of care across more than 90 services. From orthopaedics, to urology, our private GP practice and Urgent Care Clinic, our services are led by some of London’s leading Consultants. For more information, and to find a service suitable for your care, find out more about the services that we offer.

Make an enquiry

If you have any questions relating to treatment options or pricing information, get in touch with us by filling out one of our contact boxes or giving us a call on 020 7806 4004.

Our Appointments Team have a dedicated and caring approach to finding you the earliest appointment possible with the best specialist.

If you are self-paying you don’t need a referral from your GP for a consultation. You can simply refer yourself* and book an appointment.

If you have health insurance (e.g. Bupa, Axa Health, Aviva), you will need to contact your insurer to get authorisation before any treatment, and in most cases you will also require a referral letter from your GP.

If you are not registered with a GP, we have an in-house private GP practice you can use. Alternatively, we can suggest the most appropriate course of action for you to take, given your location and individual circumstances.

*Please note – for investigations such as X-rays and MRIs, a referral will be required. However, we may be able to arrange this for you through our on-site private GP.

    Make an enquiry

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