Treatment guide

Shoulder Replacement

Also known as arthroplasty, shoulder replacement procedures involve surgically replacing damaged parts of the shoulder joint and restoring arm movement. It tends to be prescribed for arthritis in elderly patients but can also be used as a treatment for rotator cuff injuries or shoulder fractures.

The content has been reviewed for quality and accuracy to the best of our knowledge by Qunomedical and its Medical Board of Experts.

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Shoulder Replacement Quick Details


  • Patients who suffer from constant pain in their shoulder joints.

  • Patients who suffer from degradation of their shoulder cartilage, causing bones in the joint to rub against each other.

  • Patients who have suffered a significant loss of motion in their shoulders, limiting their quality of life.

  • Patients who have suffered a shoulder fracture which requires reconstruction of the shoulder joint.

  • Patients who have suffered rotator cuff tears in the past, leading to gradual destabilisation of their shoulder joints.

  • Shoulder replacements are usually not advised for people who suffer from diabetes, Parkinson's disease, depression and obesity.


  • The operation itself takes around two hours.


  • A sling is usually required for around one month after the surgery and regular icing of the shoulder will be advised.

  • Driving is also not advised until around six weeks after surgery, after which patients should be able to return to normal life.


  • Shoulder replacement procedures have an excellent success rate, with 90% of the replacements having been recorded as still being functional after ten years.


  • Infections.

  • Adverse responses to the general anaesthetic.

  • Possible damage to blood vessels and nerves.

  • Further skeletal or muscular damage.

  • Destabilisation of the replacement shoulder components leading to the need for a further operation.


Shoulder Replacement Costs

Prices for shoulder replacement surgery can vary based on the country in which you have the treatment and the specific doctor or clinic that you choose. Below, we've outlined the starting prices for this procedure at Qunomedical-approved clinics. These prices are not fixed or guaranteed and may vary based on a number of different factors.

CountryPrice (EUR €)

What Is a Shoulder Replacement?

Shoulder replacement procedures are similar to the more familiar hip or knee replacements and seek to exchange damaged parts of patients' shoulders with specially manufactured replacements. They are commonly used to relieve the pain of conditions like arthritis and to restore joint mobility, particularly in elderly patients.

How Does a Shoulder Replacement Work?

1. Patients will arrange an initial appointment with their physician where they will discuss a possible need for a shoulder replacement.

2. The physician will make an appointment for the patient's shoulder to be scanned, in order to establish the degree of damage and which surgical procedure (if any) is required.

3. In preparation for surgery, about two weeks before hospital admission, patients will be asked to refrain from taking anti-inflammatory painkillers and anti-arthritis medications.

4. For surgery, a two- to three-day hospital stay will usually be needed. A general anaesthetic may be administered, although regional anaesthetics may be possible for partial replacements.

5. In most shoulder replacement operations, doctors will remove the top of the patient's humerus bone. This end of the humerus has a rounded shape and forms the "ball" of the shoulder which connects to the cartilage and the concave bowl of the shoulder blade to ensure a wide range of movement.

6. They will then replace the humeral head with an artificial alternative which may be made from metal or plastic. This ball will usually be implanted into the humerus bone via a stem, providing optimum stability.

7. After the humeral head has been replaced, the socket that the ball fits into is generally covered with a layer of plastic ensuring that the ball and socket fit neatly together. This layer will typically be put in place by applying pressure to a cement adhesive placed on the surface of the glenoid socket.

8. Muscles are then reattached to the shoulder bones and the surgical site is properly sealed. Stitches will be applied along with a dressing. This dressing then remains in place until the incision is healed.

9. After the procedure, you tend to remain in hospital for a couple of days as the anaesthetic wears off. Recovery then lasts for four to six weeks and involves a mixture of support, icing and in many cases - physiotherapy.

Are There Different Types of Shoulder Replacement?

There are a number of variants of arthroplasty.

  • Total - The most common, reliable and well-known form of shoulder replacement this version involves removing the humeral head, fitting a replacement ball, and resurfacing the glenoid socket with a prosthetic layer. Generally, surgeons access the operation site via an incision between the deltoid and pectoralis major muscles.

  • Partial - In partial shoulder replacements (also known as hemiarthroplasty), the procedure is simplified. In these cases, only the humeral head will need to be replaced and the glenoid socket is unaffected. In some cases, the socket may be "reamed" to reshape it to provide a better fit with the remodelled humeral head.

  • Reverse - Reverse shoulder replacements are better suited to people with rotator cuff injuries. In this procedure, surgeons will "flip" the function of the ball and socket. An artificial socket is fixed to the end of the humerus bone, and the glenoid socket is fitted with a prosthetic ball. The idea is that by changing the orientation of the shoulder joint, patients' muscles will adapt by responding to poor or absent rotator cuff functions.

What Should I Expect?

Whenever you undergo a shoulder replacement procedure, it is important to be realistic about its future abilities. These operations are generally a response to long-term muscular or skeletal issues. While they will restore much of the mobility and comfort, they are not always able to fully ease the pain and cannot always be extremely effective regarding physical strength or range of movement.

You also need to listen to your doctor as they explain the recovery process. Rushing back to normal activity can result in setbacks to your recovery, and some activities such as heavy lifting will be advised against even after recovery is complete.Expect to receive advice regarding physiotherapy as well. Carrying out regular stretching exercises are a key aspect of restoring shoulder mobility and you will need to be disciplined enough to carry out the exercises that the specialists prescribe.

However, people choosing shoulder replacements tend to experience much improved physical mobility and pain relief. This leads to significant psychological and physical benefits in the future.

How Do I Get Started?

Prior to the surgery, you will need to have an initial consultation with your surgeon. We at Qunomedical will liaise with the clinic on your behalf. At this point, you will be required to provide us some information that includes your medical records, an MRI or CT scan of your shoulder, a list of medications you regularly take and whether you have any allergies. This information is sent to the surgeon who will then proceed to prepare a suggested treatment plan for you and your health manager will then forward you the plan. If you have any more questions or queries, feel free to reach out to them anytime.

If you choose to go ahead with the treatment, the surgeon will then elucidate the steps of the procedure and make a decision on what kind of replacement you will be needing. He/She will also give you extensive advice on preparations prior to and post the surgery.


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