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Cleveland Clinic doctor holding a model of a shoulder joint, speaking with a patient.

Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Did you know your shoulder has a greater range of motion than any other joint in your body? It works hard. Sometimes too hard.

And when this happens, your shoulder joint can wear out or get injured. And the pain keeps you from doing things you want to do. Or keeps you awake at night. If your symptoms don’t get better with medications, cortisone injections or physical therapy, you may want to talk with an expert about shoulder replacement surgery.

Replacing a joint may sound a little unnerving. But it could help you get a good night’s sleep. And get active again — without nagging pain. Cleveland Clinic is here to help. Our experienced orthopaedic healthcare providers listen carefully to you and will help you get relief.

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Shoulder Replacement Surgery?

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Personalized care:

Our surgeons do several different shoulder surgeries, including resurfacing, hemiarthroplasty and full shoulder replacement. We go over which one could be best for you, tailoring your surgery and recovery plan to your needs and goals.

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High-volume specialty:

We do more shoulder replacements than nearly anywhere else in the country. You receive care from experienced orthopaedic providers who specialize in shoulder replacement surgery and recovery plans.

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Specialized knowledge:

Our surgeons treat complex shoulder conditions that involve severe bone loss, rotator cuff tears, comminuted fractures (resulting in multiple bone splinters), infection and failed prior surgeries. Meet our team.

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Caring approach:

We realize surgery is a big decision, so we take the time to listen to your concerns. Your team will go over what you can expect before, during and after your shoulder replacement surgery. You get the support you need to prepare for surgery and have a smooth recovery.

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Specialized equipment:

Our expert surgeons use proven, FDA-approved technology. We use 3D models to help plan the surgery and navigate during the operation. This helps improve our precision and outcomes.

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Virtual visits:

If getting to your provider’s office is tough, why not try a virtual visit? You’ll get the same great care but from the comfort and convenience of home. All you need is an internet connection and a smartphone, computer or tablet.

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National recognition:

Cleveland Clinic is a trusted healthcare leader. We’re recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for our expertise and care.

Shoulder Replacement Consultation at Cleveland Clinic

Sometimes shoulders just stop working like they should (dysfunction). This could be from wear and tear, health issues or an injury that causes problems with your joint cartilage or rotator cuff tendons. Severe arthritis or end-stage rotator cuff disease can affect joint movement and result in stiffness, making it hard to raise your arm over your head. You may have tried different pain medications. Or maybe you’ve had steroid injections. And, chances are, you’ve been going regularly to physical therapy, too.

When other treatments no longer work (or have never worked), your provider may recommend shoulder replacement surgery. Other signs you might be a good candidate for this surgery include:

  • Pain, even at rest, but that gets worse when you move.
  • Such severe shoulder pain that you struggle with everyday things like showering, getting dressed, cooking and sleeping.
  • Loss of motion in your shoulder.
  • Weakness in your shoulder.
  • Feeling unstable or like your shoulder joint is “slipping out.”
  • Failed prior surgery to repair shoulder issues.

Replacing your shoulder joint with a prosthesis can help reduce or even get rid of the source of your pain and dysfunction.

Some conditions that can be treated with shoulder replacement include:

Shoulder replacement can do more than relieve your pain. It can also increase your range of motion and strength. And this can help you use your shoulder and arm better than before surgery. More than two-thirds of people go back to recreational sports such as golfing, pickle ball, swimming, fishing and hiking.

What to expect at your first appointment

Your specific needs and goals always drive your treatment plan at Cleveland Clinic. That’s why it’s important for us to hear what’s been going on from your point of view.

When you come to your first appointment, your surgeon will ask you to share your story. They’ll want to know:

  • When you first noticed your shoulder pain.
  • How long you’ve had shoulder pain.
  • Where it hurts.
  • How the pain has been affecting your life.
  • Any treatments you’ve tried.

During your visit, your surgeon will also go over your medical history. And they’ll do an exam to see how well your shoulder works. This includes moving your shoulder to see how strong it is, how well it can move in different ways (range of motion) and how that movement is related to your symptoms.

You’ll probably get a shoulder X-ray to check for the amount of space in your joint and its alignment, and also for bone spurs and any sign of dislocation or fracture. Your provider will check the health of your bones, your joint and the soft tissues around it.

And they may set up MRI and CAT scans to take a closer look at your shoulder from the inside and learn more about how to rebuild it. You could also have blood tests and an electrocardiogram (EKG) to make sure you’re healthy enough for surgery.

Meet Our Shoulder Replacement Team

When you come to Cleveland Clinic for shoulder replacement, you’ll have a handpicked team of healthcare providers from different specialties. We build this team based on your unique diagnosis, needs and goals. You may see:

This experienced team works together to look at your symptoms, pain level and x-rays to craft the most personalized surgery and recovery plan.


Our healthcare providers see patients at convenient locations throughout Northeast Ohio, Florida and London.

Having Shoulder Replacement Surgery at Cleveland Clinic

Based on our conversations with you and your test results, we may offer you several shoulder replacement options. No matter which you choose, we personalize surgery to your needs so you can get maximum range of motion and have less shoulder pain. Your surgery options could include:

  • Hemiarthroplasty: We replace only the ball and stem and connect those implants to your own shoulder socket.
  • Resurfacing hemiarthroplasty: We replace the joint surface of the humeral head with a cap without a stem.
  • Anatomic total shoulder replacement: We replace your arthritic joint with a metal ball and stem at your humerus. Then we place a plastic cup on your glenoid socket after removing bone spurs and arthritic surfaces.
  • Seamless total shoulder arthroplasty: We attach the metallic ball to your upper arm without a stem. This preserves your bone without removing it.
  • Reverse total shoulder replacement: We reverse the joint by placing the metal ball where your shoulder socket was. Then, we attach a plastic cup to the stem and implant it on your arm bone.

What to expect during shoulder replacement surgery

When you have a shoulder replacement, you’ll get general anesthesia through an IV. It makes you sleep so you won’t feel any pain during surgery. You may also have the choice of a regional nerve block in your arm that lessens your pain after you wake up from surgery.

Depending on the kind of shoulder replacement surgery you have, you could be in the operating room for about two hours. You’ll then go to a recovery room for another hour or two.

Soon after surgery, we take an X-ray of your shoulder to make sure everything looks good, and the prosthesis is in the right position. You could stay one night in the hospital after surgery, depending on your situation and other conditions. And when you go, you’ll leave with full instructions about caring for your incision (cut) and starting the recovery process.

What to expect while recovering from shoulder replacement

Full recovery from shoulder replacement surgery takes several months. The incision will heal in about two weeks. It takes about six weeks for the soft tissue to fully heal around the shoulder replacement. For the first four weeks, you won’t be able to lift anything heavier than a cup of coffee. And you’ll have to limit lifting heavy objects for about three months. We also recommend that you avoid repetitive lifting, extreme stretching or using the newly replaced shoulder to lift yourself up from a bed or chair for about six weeks.

Our expert physical and occupational therapists will help you strengthen and gain movement again in your shoulder. And they’ll give you routine exercises to do at home to keep your recovery on track.

You’ll also have several follow-up appointments with your orthopaedic surgeon. We’ll go over how your recovery and therapy are going, review your X-rays and answer questions you may have about returning to activities and work.

Taking the Next Step

When all you seem to think about is constant shoulder pain, it’s time to get help. Especially if other treatments haven’t worked. Shoulder replacement surgery at Cleveland Clinic can turn things around for you. Our orthopaedic providers are experienced with this common surgery. And they’re ready to walk you through what to expect, step by step, so you can get back to living life without shoulder pain.

Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s shoulder replacement experts is easy. We’ll help you get the care you need.


Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s shoulder replacement experts is easy. We’ll help you get the care you need.

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