A shoulder replacement aims to provide pain relief and to give you a shoulder that moves well enough for you to perform daily activities. Shoulder replacement surgery is performed under general anaesthesia and a nerve block. The average hospital stay is two or three days. An incision is made over the front of your shoulder. Your contracted soft tissues are released to improve range of motion and your worn out joint surfaces are replaced with precision engineered metal and plastic implants.
If your rotator cuff tendons are in good condition, your surgeon may recommend anatomic total shoulder replacement. In this procedure, your damaged joint surfaces are removed and ‘replicated’ with metal and plastic implants that are tailored to mimic your own anatomy. Your rotator cuff tendons, which must be intact for this operation to function well, are preserved. The socket side is made of polyethylene (a special hard-wearing plastic) that is fixed into your bone using pegs and a small amount of bone cement. The humeral side has a very highly polished surface and is made out of either cobalt chrome (a hard-wearing metal alloy) or ceramic. The humeral implant is either fixed using very short roughened fins that grip the bone (stemless), or by the use of a stem that grips inside the canal of your arm bone.
Anatomic total shoulder replacement - metal 'stemless' humeral head and plastic socket (therefore not seen easily on Xray)
If your rotator cuff has failed, or is of very poor quality, then you may need a reverse geometry replacement to give you a predicatble outcome. This involves removal of damaged joint surfaces and implantation with metal and plastic implants, BUT the ball and socket are switched around, so the ball is now fixed into the socket and the socket now lies on the humerus. There is more information on reverse total shoulder replacement in the Treatments section.
Reverse geometry total shoulder replacement – see how the ball lies on the scapula and the socket is now on the humerus
For some patients, a partial shoulder replacement may be a good option as it is a shorter surgery with a slightly lower complication rate. The functional improvement may be less than for a total shoulder, but most patients still enjoy good pain relief.
The choice of what type of surgery to have will be governed by your health, your anatomy, your age and your functional demands and, where possible, by your preference. Do ask Mr Granville-Chapman to discuss the options for your shoulder with you.
You will need to stay in for at least one night after surgery. You will wake up with a sling and your arm will still be numb. We will help you achieve pain control as your nerve block wears off (12-24hrs) – sometimes this requires in-patient medication for a day or two after your surgery. You will need a shoulder X-ray and a blood test the day after your operation. Your physiotherapist will go through your rehabilitation plan with you.
Most patients can go home on day two after surgery. Please keep your wound dry and covered with a dressing for 12 days.
You will come out of your sling between four and six weeks and increase your range of movement exercises. Strengthening will begin at about three months.
Patients vary in their symptoms after surgery, but in general you can expect to return to:
Office work after three or four weeks (in a sling)
Light household activities after six to ten weeks
Heavier activities may take 16-24 weeks
Driving will probably take eight weeks..
The ideal joint replacement functions well for the rest of your life. However, all joint replacements will eventually wear out or loosen. The younger you are when you have surgery, the greater your chance of your replacement wearing out. For anatomic shoulder replacements, about 90% will last 10 years and many will last much longer than this. For reverse geometry shoulder replacement, about 85% will last 10 years and again, many will last longer than this. Hemiarthroplasty can last a long time, but in active people, the implant tends to erode the uncovered socket over time. As this progresses, the pain and loss of function can return. Most hemiarthroplasties will last 8 years before needing revision.
Shoulder replacement surgery is major surgery and some patients suffer complications. General risks of surgery include:
- Anaesthetic problem (1 in 1000) - significant or life threatening problems with your heart, lungs, brain or kidneys are very rare with modern planned surgery.
- Blood Clot (1 in 500). You will be given stockings to wear and injections during your admisssion to minimise this risk.
- Infection (approx. 2%) . Whilst we undertake every precaution to minimise the risk of infection happening to you, the risk cannot be completely negated. If you develop infection, you may need removal of your joint replacement, a period on antibiotics and revision surgery. This is a lengthy and arduous process and the final outcome suffers. Occasionally an infection seeds in a replaced joint through the blood stream. If you are having dental work you should inform your dentist that you have a joint replacement as they may cover the period with anitbiotics.
- Stiffness (10%). Range of motion is rarely completely normal after joint replacement. The aim is for you to be able to raise your arm to, or above shoulder height, but sometimes this is not achieved. Inwards and/or outwards rotation of your shoulder may remain quite restricted.
- Instability (1-2%). Your joint replacement relies on implant positioning, soft tissue balance and muscle forces for stability. If the soft tissues become deficient, or there is a problem with your implant position, then your shoulder may become unstable. If this is recurrent, this may require revision surgery.
- Pain (5-10%). The vast majority of patients enjoy significant pain relief with shoulder replacement, but some patients experience niggling pain on certain movements and, occasionally, more constant pain in their shoulder that doesn’t settle down. Investigations may be needed to explain why your shoulder is painful – occasionally there is low-grade infection, or a structural cause.
- Fracture (1%). This is rare, but can happen as your bones are prepared for replacement. Fractures can often be treated at the same time as your replacement, but they may occasionally prevent completion of your replacement while the fracture heals. If you fall after a shoulder replacement, your bones may break around the implant.
- Nerve injury (1%). Important nerves pass close to your shoulder joint. While it is very rare for nerves to be cut, they may get stretched during your operation. The risk of nerve injury is higher if you're having revision surgery as your anatomy can be distorted, adherent to and obscured by scar tissue. Most stretching nerve injuries recover with time, but permanent muscle weakness in the shoulder or arm could result.
Mr Granville-Chapman was very polite and his examination and explanation of my symptoms and expected treatment was thorough
I found Mr Granville-Chapman to be very knowledgeable and professional. He put me very much at ease and explained all the options that I have thoroughly. He also told me to look for further information on the condition and procedures that I needed on his website, which gave lots of information and detail. It was also easy to understand for those without a medical background. I would highly recommend his services to anyone that has shoulder problems and requires a solution.
I attended for a repair of my right bicep tendon. After a thorough examination, Mr Granville-Chapman arranged an operation to be undertaken within 2 days which was extremely quick; he explained his reasoning which was both thorough and reassuring, explaining both the options of undergoing surgery and deciding to undertake conservative management.On the day of the surgery Mr Granville-Chapman was again very reassuring as although this is minor surgery I was still somewhat apprehensive. He came to fully explain the procedure and afterI woke up was quick to check on how I was doing.Overall I am very happy with the careMr Granville-Chapman
I have been very pleased with my treatment so far. Mr Granville-Chapman combines brisk efficiency with a pleasant, sympathetic manner. My operation, however, is still to come ...
From the initial consultation, through surgery on a fractured wrist, and now post-operative follow up, it has been a very positive and reassuring experience with Mr Granville-Chapman. I would have no hesitation in recommending him to someone else.
A first class clinician. A skilled surgeon with an excellent bedside manner.
A very pleasant Consultant who knows exactly how to make pain go away.
Mr Granville - Chapman has an excellent bedside manner. He engaged with my 12 year old son at an appropriate level and took the time to ensure that he understood the procedure and answer all his questions. He is thoroughly professional and I would not hesitate to recommend him.
I have been very pleased with the attention I have received. Mr. Granville-Chapman has reassured me that my symptoms are normal. It is very easy to make appointments that suit me.
Mr Granville chapman I found be caring informative and professional I would recommend him to all if you have a problem don't hesitate to contact him you won't be disappointed.
I recently broke my right clavicle in a mountain bike accident and it was repaired by Mr Granville-Chapman by adding a plate on top of the bone. Having just finished the last post-op consultation, I can confirm that I have been very happy with the process all along. In particular, Jeremy took time to explain in detail why a plate was needed, what the procedure would entail, and also was very patient answering my questions comprehensively beforehand and after during the recovery phase. Would certainly trust this competent surgeon to fix any future fractures I might sustain.
Mr Granville-Chapman has looked after my 15 year old son brilliantly, explaining the surgery, recovery and best way forward, and Kate has been very supportive helping with logistics etc, thank you so much.
So far my experience with Mr Jeremy Granville-Chapman has been personal and informative with regard to the operation I will be having. I feel confident that my operation will be a success and for this reason I am very happy to have Mr Jeremy Granville-Chapman as my consultant.
Very knowledgeable and helpful. Takes the time to make sure you're getting the treatment you need.
Mr Jeremy Granville -Chapman is not only a highly skilled consultant but is able to put you straight away at ease .My appointments were arranged very swiftly which was great, when you are experiencing severe pain. I am very happy with my treatment so far . many thanks to everyone who was involved in my treatment.
Polite, helpful, professional. Makes an effort to ensure full understanding of issues and procedures to be done. Highly satisfied
Very pleasant. Clear, careful explanations & options/possibilities. I feel well informed, and happy that my concerns are being well addressed, with a plan of review of the symptoms.
Excellent advise with everything explained clearly and a successful treatment which has benefited be greatly.
Spire Thames Valley hospital
Wexham Street, Wexham, Buckinghamshire, SL3 6NH
Wexham Park Hospital, Slough, Berkshire, SL2 4HL
BMI The Princess Margaret Hospital
Osborne Rd, Windsor SL4 3SJ