Total Shoulder Replacement

November 21, 2022 | By: Raleigh Orthopaedic Team

Total Shoulder Replacement: Symptoms, Treatment, and Recovery

A total shoulder replacement is a procedure that removes the shoulder joint and replaces it with a prosthetic implant. This condition affects the glenohumeral joint, and it can be a critical treatment for people who are injured or have deterioration of the shoulder joint. 

What Causes Total Shoulder Replacement?

There are a few different reasons a person might need a total shoulder replacement. Often, it’s due to injuries such as a fracture or rotator cuff damage. It can also be caused by certain diseases, such as arthritis, inflammatory disorders, and Osteonecrosis.

Total Shoulder Replacement Risk Factors

All medical procedures come with risks. Depending on how extensive the damage is, there are more risks than others. Otherwise, patients should be prepared to deal with certain complications such as dislocation of the new joint, nerve damage, rotator cuff failure, and fractures. Surgeries can also lead to blood clots and infections if you don’t monitor the surgery site closely.

Symptoms of Shoulder Injury or Deterioration 

If you are considering a total shoulder replacement, it’s likely due to certain symptoms affecting your quality of life. Here are a few common symptoms:

  • Shoulder pain
  • Inflammation
  • Weakness of the shoulder
  • Limited range of motion
  • Grinding or clicking in the joint

How Is Total Shoulder Replacement Diagnosed?

Diagnosing a shoulder injury or disease is fairly straightforward. If you know that you recently injured your shoulder, such as while playing a sport, then you will receive an external examination followed by an x-ray or scan.

If you aren’t sure whether or not you have an injury, your doctor will first perform a few tests to measure your range of motion and strength. You will also discuss factors such as hereditary conditions, age, and lifestyle before any x-rays or scans.

Treatment for Shoulder Injuries and Conditions

Not everyone needs a total shoulder replacement to treat their symptoms. In some cases, it’s helpful to try other treatments first.


If you are experiencing shoulder pain, there are plenty of options for addressing the issue that is non-invasive before resorting to a replacement. Physical therapy and certain medications like Methotrexate can help slow the progression of diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and reduce pain.

If the issue is degenerative, like Osteonecrosis, the first course of action might include blood thinners or cholesterol medication to increase circulation. You can also bolster your bone health by taking in a balanced diet. 

You can also take steps at home to reduce pain, such as applying heat or ice to the affected area. Rest and focusing on gentle stretching can also help decrease shoulder pain significantly. 


In some situations, such as extensive injury, surgery might be the only option. Fortunately, there are sometimes options, including a partial replacement which won’t be as dramatic as a total shoulder replacement. This procedure involves replacing only part of the joint with a metal or plastic prosthetic. 

Total Shoulder Replacement Recovery Time

A total shoulder replacement is a major surgery that will require recovery time, but it’s typically very successful and gives patients a much higher quality of life. If the surgery and recovery go well, physical therapy allows most patients to return to limited activity within a month. It usually takes a little over six weeks to return to regular activities. 

How Can I Prevent Total Shoulder Replacement?

If you are at high risk for shoulder diseases and injuries, the good news is that there are steps you can take to minimize your risk. People over the age of 65 should focus on retaining mobility and strength by eating well, stretching, and staying active. 

Those at risk of injury should focus on using proper form. In sports or while working out, make sure to move with intention and pay attention to your surroundings. People that work in dangerous fields should also take these practices into consideration.

Expert Shoulder Care at Raleigh Orthopaedic

If you live in Wake County and you’re seeking top-notch care, you’re in luck Raleigh Orthopaedic offers the highest quality of care for all of your orthopedic needs. You can count on our team of experts to treat every condition as a priority, and a total shoulder replacement is no exception. Schedule an appointment today and reclaim your joy and freedom with the incredible care from our staff.