Shoulder replacement surgery was first performed in the United States in the 1950s to treat severe shoulder fractures. Over the years, shoulder joint replacement has come to be used for many other painful conditions of the shoulder, such as different forms of arthritis. Today, about 53,000 people in the U.S. have shoulder replacement surgery each year, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 

If nonsurgical treatments like medications and activity changes are no longer helpful for relieving pain, you may want to consider shoulder joint replacement surgery. 


Your shoulder is made up of three bones: your upper arm bone (humerus), your shoulder blade (scapula), and your collarbone (clavicle). The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint meaning the ball, or head, of your upper arm bone, fits into a shallow socket in your shoulder blade. The muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder provide stability and support and all of these structures allow the shoulder to rotate through a greater range of motion than any other joint in the body.

What Is Total Joint Replacement? 

In a shoulder replacement surgery, the damaged parts of the shoulder are removed and replaced with artificial components, called prostheses. The treatment options are either replacement of the head of the humerus bone (ball), or replacement of both the ball and the socket (glenoid). 

Procedure Breakdown

  1. Anesthesia. A board-certified anesthesiologist administers anesthesia so no pain or discomfort is felt during the procedure. 
  2. Incision. A small incision is made on the front of the shoulder. Muscles and soft tissues are retracted so the joint can be visualized. 
  3. Bone preparation. The head of the humerus (arm bone) and glenoid cavity are carefully cut in preparation for implants. 
  4. Trial implants. Trial implants are placed in the shoulder until the perfect size is found. A physical examination confirms the implants fit and the shoulder moves properly. 
  5. Permanent implants. Biological cement is placed over the bones and permanent metal and plastic implants are put in place. Once the cement hardens, an additional physical examination is performed. 
  6. Incision closure. Sutures and skin staples close the incision and sterile dressings are placed the keep the incision clean and covered. A shoulder sling is put on to keep the shoulder in a neutral position. 

The total shoulder replacement procedure usually takes about 1 hour, depending on the severity of the damaged areas and the shoulder anatomy. A short hospital stay is necessary for pain management, infection prevention, and physical therapy purposes. 

If you are experiencing shoulder osteoarthritis symptoms, it is best to get a diagnosis as soon as possible. Early treatment relieves symptoms and prevents the chronic condition from becoming worse. If you are having symptoms of shoulder arthritis, give us a call at 435-787-2000 to schedule an appointment.