Considering a Shoulder Replacement?

A shoulder replacement is a surgical procedure, which involves replacing the end of the two bones that form your shoulder with a metal implant. In most cases, the goal of the replacement is to reduce the amount of pain experienced around the shoulder. It is likely you will either have a Total Shoulder Replacement, or a Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement.

The most common indication for needing a shoulder replacement is a combination of Osteoarthritis and pain. However, in some cases, a shoulder replacement is an option where people have had a significant fracture to the shoulder or lost the function of the muscles. 
In most cases, shoulder pain can be managed with exercise, activity modification and perhaps medication. When the pain is significantly impacting upon your lifestyle then surgery might be an option. 


Did you know?

The shoulder is one of the most complex joints of the body. It relies heavily on muscular strength to enable it to function.

Did you know?

In most cases, the pain we experience from Osteoarthritis does not mean we are causing harm or making it worse.

Did you know?

Smoking significantly increases the time it takes for your body to heal and recover after an operation. It can also make us more sensitive to pain.

X-Ray Results

How do I know if I need surgery?

Many of the common problems associated with shoulder pain can be managed with a combination of exercise, activity modification  and medication. If you have not already done so, talk to a Physiotherapist who will be able to guide you towards the best type of exercise that is most suited to you. Remember that any exercise needs time to take effect. 
Remember, if you have had a fracture, osteoarthritis or there has significant tear in the shoulder muscles, then that represents a structural change to your shoulder This means we can't always expect it to behave in the same way it used to.  The treatments available may aim to help you manage and reduce symptoms, not fully take it away. 

Tennis Player
Grandmother and child Gardening Together

If you have tried exercise, activity modification and medication and are still unable to manage the pain, an X-ray may be taken of the shoulder to look at the amount of change that has happened. It is important to remember that everyone is different and the amount of change we see on an X-ray does not equal the amount of pain or discomfort we experience. You may also have an Ultrasound scan. This helps us understand the condition of the soft tissue (muscles) in the shoulder. Again, it's important to remember that it can be normal to find age related changes on a scan that are not always causing us pain. 
You may be offered an injection into the shoulder joint to help settle the pain. The injection contains a powerful anti-inflammatory which can help to settle stiffness, pain and swelling. Injections are best used alongside graded exercise, as the stronger you can get the shoulder to be, the longer the injection can last. You can only have 1 injection every 12 weeks. This limitation is to help prevent further damage to the shoulder. 
If you have tried all of the options and  you have significant change shown on an x-ray, then you may be referred to an Orthopaedic Consultant. 
The decision to have a joint replacement should not be taken lightly. It is important to discuss everything with your family, friends, healthcare professionals and Doctor. The decision usually revolves around how much your shoulder is impacting YOU and YOUR daily life. If you are unsure of this impact, try the Oxford Shoulder Questionnaire here

Hospital Corridor

Advice from a Shoulder Consultant

Mr. Charlie Talbot


Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hospital Bed

Using a Shoulder Sling

Stability Ball and Stretching Band

Whilst you're on the waiting list

The current pressures on the NHS mean that you may have to wait a little longer to have your surgery. But whilst you're on the waiting list, there are a few things you can do to help yourself. 

Get Active

Did you know that exercising other parts of your body can actually help improve your shoulder function? Swimming and cycling can be great ways to get more active. Moving your shoulder gently in a swimming pool can really help to improve the flexibility and build back some muscle. Take a look at our Six Simple Shoulder Exercise video below for some easy ideas. Our body takes time to adapt to getting active and you won't see changes straight away. 

Find out more here


We all know that losing weight can be hard, but it can really make a difference. In simple terms, the less we weigh, the easier it is for our body to function and the less strain we put on it. Having a healthy BMI also means that you will recover quicker from surgery. You can work out your BMI by clicking hereIf you're unsure how to lose weight, book an appointment to speak to your GP.  Harrogate Council run a Fit 4 Life weight loss group.The NHS also provide an online weight-loss course 


Giving up smoking can actually really help. Smoking can make us more sensitive to pain, as well as increasing the time ti takes our body to heal and recover. In some cases, smoking may actually prevent you having some types or surgery. 

If you haven't already done so, speak to your GP about ways to stop, or see more of the facts here

About It

Talk to your Doctor about other things you could do.

  • Are you taking the right medication?

  • Have you been to Physiotherapy? 

  • What about an injection? (steroid or nerve block)

  • How is your mental health affected?

Stability Ball and Stretching Band

Simple Shoulder Exercise

Doctor's Desk

Frequently asked questions

When can I drive?

 Most people will be able to return to driving after 12 weeks. You will need to be able to safely control the car and inform your insurance company of your surgery. Discuss this with your Dr or rehab team.

How painful is the surgery?

Everyone experiences pain differently. Try not to compare to other people. It is important to take the medication given to you by the hospital. This may be required for 6-8 weeks. 

How long does recovery take?

The human body takes between 6-12 weeks to heal. However recovery can take much longer than that. Some surgery can take 12 to 18 months to reach its full potential.

Do I need any equipment?

The hospital will provide any specialist equipment you may need. It's a good idea to prepare as much as you can at home before the surgery. Do you need to move a bed downstairs? Which toilet will you use? 

If you are unsure, an Occupational Therapist will be able to help.

Can I still fly after my operation?

How long you need to wait until you can fly again depends on a variety of factors. Discuss this with your Surgeon.

How will I cope at home?

It's a good idea to tell your friends and family about your planned surgery. They may be able to help you in the 3-4 weeks after your surgery. You could also freeze meals before to save cooking. If you have concerns about coping at home, speak to the ward staff whilst in hospital.

How long will I be in hospital for?

If the surgery goes as planned, you can expect to be in hospital for 1 night. You will be expected to attend hospital at a later date for Physiotherapy.

What should I bring to hospital?

You will need clothing for at least 1 over night stay. Loose fitting clothing is ideal. Being able to wear your own clothes can make a big difference to how you feel. 

Leave expensive personal items or jewellery at home

Helping Hands

We'd Love Some Feedback!

We're still developing these pages. We'd love to know what you think.