Replacement – FAQ


1. How will I know if I need a shoulder replaced?
Ans: Often the first clues are pain, limited range of motion in the arm and loss of strength. The arthritic  process that renders the shoulder weak and painful occurs over time and may have been precipitated by a wearing down of cartilage that covers bone surfaces, a tear in the rotator cuff (a tendon surrounding the shoulder joint) or necrosis (dead tissue) in bone from a loss in blood supply to bone. These situations, often occurring decades in the past, may have resulted from a work-related event, contact or other sports, an automobile accident or from rheumatoid arthritis itself.

2. What does a total shoulder replacement implant consist of?
Ans: A shoulder replacement implant consists of three parts:

  • A new socket (glenoid) that is implanted within the shoulder blade (scapula)
  • A new “ball” to replace the head of the top of the arm bone (humerus)
  • A stem that secures the ball within the arm bone


3. What does shoulder replacement surgery entail?
Ans: Having a shoulder replaced is a major surgical procedure performed in the operating room. During this procedure, your surgeon removes damaged bone and cartilage, resurfaces the socket within your shoulder blade and replaces the ball or head of the humerus at the top of your arm bone.


4. How long is recuperation and rehabilitation after shoulder replacement surgery?
Ans: Your recuperation and rehabilitation begins while you are still in the hospital and often on the same day as your surgery.


5. Will I have restored range of motion after my surgery?
Ans: After surgery and rehabilitation, you will have much more range of motion than what you had prior to your surgery. How much range of motion you achieve will depend upon your own unique circumstances and anatomy. Most patients are quite satisfied with the painless restored motion they find they have following their surgery and rehabilitation.


6. What happens to the shoulder to cause it to become arthritic and painful?
Ans: The shoulder joint allows more range of motion than any other joint in the body. The cartilage that covers bone surfaces in the joint can begin to wear down, causing stiffness and pain. Some medical conditions — inflammation or rheumatoid arthritis — also can cause this type of degeneration. Direct injury to the shoulder joint from contact sports, an accident or a fall can destabilize the joint and cause uneven wear, eventually leading to arthritis.

7. If I have arthritis in one shoulder, will I develop arthritis in the other shoulder?
Ans: This is usually not the case, but can happen.


8. Will I be aware of the implant in my shoulder?
Ans: Usually not.


9. How long will the shoulder implant last?
Ans: The answer depends on several factors, such as your age, physical condition and activity level. Because these devices are made with stronger materials and provide a secure fit, a shoulder replacement is expected to last the remainder of patients’ lives. Most people who have a shoulder replaced are older and have fewer physical demands.


10. Are most people who have a shoulder replaced older patients?
Ans: Most patients are in late, middle age or older; but the shoulder joint can degenerate from a number of factors that have nothing to do with age. A traumatic injury from an accident or fall also may require that the shoulder be replaced. Rheumatoid arthritis at any age can affect the shoulder and cause degeneration.


11. Can I have an MRI if I have had a joint replaced?
Ans: Yes.