Total Shoulder Replacement

Total shoulder replacement surgery is a procedure aimed at relieving shoulder joint pain caused by arthritis while also improving mobility. We’ll cover the types of replacements, reasons for surgery, the evaluation process, potential complications, and the recovery process, including pain management and rehabilitation. Whether you’re considering this procedure or seeking more information, read on to learn more about total shoulder replacement surgery.

If you’re seeking relief from shoulder pain and improved mobility, schedule a consultation today with Brent J. Morris, MD, in Lexington, Kentucky. Dr. Morris provides expert shoulder care tailored to your specific needs.

Dr. Brent J. Morris, MD, smiling.

Orthopedic Shoulder & Elbow Surgeon located in Lexington, KY

What is Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery?

Total shoulder replacement surgery is a procedure where the damaged parts of the shoulder are removed and replaced with artificial components, called a prosthesis. The surgery is used to replace the glenohumeral joint, which is the ball and socket joint of the shoulder.

A total shoulder joint replacement generally refers to an anatomic total shoulder replacement where the prosthesis replaces like-for-like parts. This is in contrast to a reverse total shoulder replacement, which replaces the ball part of the joint with the socket and the socket part with the ball.

A total shoulder replacement involves replacing both the head of the humerus bone (ball) and the socket (glenoid). If you need to replace only one of the parts, you could have a partial shoulder replacement or hemiarthroplasty.

Why You Might Need a Total Shoulder Replacement

A total shoulder replacement is indicated for those with arthritis in the shoulder joint. You may be recommended for the procedure if arthritis is causing any of the following symptoms and non-surgical treatments are not helping:

  • Severe shoulder pain when performing everyday activities
  • Moderate to severe pain at rest
  • Weakness and loss of motion

Patients with bone-on-bone osteoarthritis and intact rotator cuff tendons are generally good candidates for conventional anatomical total shoulder replacement.

How Does Total Shoulder Replacement Work?

Total shoulder replacement works by replacing the arthritic joint surfaces with an artificial ball and socket. The ball is usually made of polished metal attached to a stem, and the socket is made of plastic.

The artificial components are either cemented or press-fitted into the bone, depending on your bone quality. If the humerus bone is of good quality, the metal ball will be press-fit into the bone. If the bone doesn’t have sufficient strength, then the component can be implanted with bone cement. The socket or glenoid component is usually always cemented.

How Are You Evaluated for the Procedure?

Your doctor may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon, like Dr. Morris, to see if you will benefit from a total shoulder replacement. The evaluation will include the following:

  • A medical history: Dr. Morris will ask about your general health, the extent of your shoulder pain, and your ability to perform everyday tasks.
  • A physical examination: Dr. Morris will assess your shoulder motion strength and stability.
  • X-rays: X-rays can indicate the extent of damage in your shoulder. They show things like flattening or irregularity in the shape of the bone, loss of the normal joint space between bones, bone spurs, and loose pieces of cartilage or bone that may be floating inside the joint.
  • Other tests: Dr. Morris may, at times, order a blood test, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, a computed tomography (CT) scan, or a bone scan to analyze the condition of the bone and soft tissues of your shoulder.

With all the information gathered, Dr. Morris will determine whether joint replacement surgery is right for you. In some cases, anti-inflammatory medicines, steroid injections, physical therapy, or other types of surgery could be considered first.


Your surgeon will discuss the possible complications and risks with you before you decide whether surgery is right for you.


Following surgery, your medical team will provide you with antibiotics to prevent infections. You should be able to get out of bed the following day and start eating solid foods. Most patients head home within the first few days.

During the initial phase of recovery, you will need to take care of your wound. You should keep it dry and covered to prevent irritation. The staples and sutures are removed after a few weeks.

Pain after surgery is normal as your body heals. However, you will need to manage your pain to begin rehabilitation. To help you manage your pain, your medical team will often use a mixture of medications such as opioids, muscle relaxers, and NSAIDs.

Rehabilitation is an important part of your recovery. Physical therapy starts soon after surgery, helping you regain strength and mobility. You’ll start gentle exercises soon after surgery, guided by your surgeon or physical therapist.

Light activities like eating and grooming are usually possible within a couple of weeks after surgery. However, some pain during activity and at night is common during the initial recovery period. Driving isn’t usually permitted for a few weeks after surgery to ensure your safety and proper healing.

Schedule a Consultation Today

Ready to explore your options for treating persistent shoulder pain? Schedule a consultation with Dr. Brent Morris in Lexington, Kentucky, and take the first step towards improved mobility and a better quality of life.

Dr. Morris provides several treatment options, such as total shoulder replacement surgery and reverse shoulder replacement. Don’t let shoulder pain limit you—book your appointment now and start your journey to relief!

Medically reviewed by Brent J. Morris, MD