Private shoulder joint replacement surgery

Shoulder replacement surgery is a procedure aimed at reducing shoulder pain and restoring movement and mobility to the joint after other methods of treatment have been exhausted. 

Shoulder imagery

There are many reasons to choose HCA UK for your shoulder replacement:

  • Consultant appointments are confirmed within one working day
  • You'll be seen by an experienced orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in shoulder treatments
  • We're rated very good or excellent by 97% of orthopaedic patients 
  • Top-rated orthopaedic facilities 

What is shoulder replacement surgery?

Also known as shoulder arthroplasty, shoulder replacement surgery involves removing parts of the shoulder joint and replacing them with artificial ones. 

Your shoulder is a ball and socket joint, also known as the glenohumeral joint. The head of the bone in the upper arm (humerus) sits in the socket (glenoid cavity) of the shoulder blade (scapula). Ligaments and tendons keep the joint in place. In a healthy joint, the ball should move freely in its socket. If the shoulder is damaged by injury or the cartilage covering the end of the humeral head or glenoid is worn away due to an arthritic condition, it can become painful and stiff. If this happens and conservative treatments are not effective in reducing pain and stiffness in the joint, shoulder arthroplasty surgery may be recommended.

Why would I need shoulder replacement surgery?

You might be advised to have a shoulder replacement if you've suffered an injury that has resulted in significant damage. However, people who experience persistent shoulder pain tend to be suffering from arthritis. The two main types of arthritis that can affect the shoulder joint are:

  • Osteoarthritis: This is a degenerative condition that causes joint cartilage to gradually wear away due to the ageing process. It usually affects the knee and hip joints. However, the condition can also affect the shoulder, especially in younger people who play a sport which results in increased pressure and inflammation within the joint. If this occurs after an injury, it's also referred to as post-traumatic arthritis. 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: This is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the lining of the joints, leading to inflammation and damaged cartilage. This can also cause pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. 

In both of these conditions, the articular cartilage that covers the ends of the bones in the joint wears away, resulting in friction between the bones during movement. This is what causes pain, stiffness and immobility.

  • Massive rotator cuff failure: If the rotator cuff tendons have all torn your shoulder cannot move properly even though the cartilage is intact. A special type of shoulder replacement, called a ‘reverse’, can restore function in this situation. 
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What other treatment options are there for shoulder joint damage?

Conservative treatments are usually prescribed initially and could include: 

Rest: If shoulder joint damage is a result of acute injury, the initial treatment is likely to be rest with frequent, gentle movement. After the first two days, you might be advised to begin moving the joint as normal if you're able to. 

Physiotherapy: This includes a series of gentle, tailored physical exercises to help you regain movement of the shoulder joint and reduce pain. It's usually carried out over multiple sessions, depending on the severity of the condition, to provide optimum results. 

Anti-inflammatory medication: Also known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), these reduce inflammation in the body and decrease pain levels. 

Steroid injections: Steroid injections are sometimes given locally to target the specific joint. While these won't cure the underlying issue, they can provide pain relief and reduce swelling in the joint in the short term.

Your consultant may recommend shoulder joint replacement surgery if non-surgical options aren't working or your symptoms are severe. 

What happens during shoulder replacement surgery? 

Total shoulder arthroplasty involves replacing both the ball and socket via surgery. In some cases, a partial shoulder replacement is carried out. This procedure replaces just the ball if this is the only component that's damaged. 

A general anaesthetic is normally given for a total shoulder replacement surgery, which means you'll be asleep throughout the procedure. If you're given a regional anaesthetic, you'll remain awake with the shoulder completely numbed by a nerve block. Your surgeon will discuss which method of anaesthesia will be used with you. 

The damaged parts of the joint will be removed (usually both the ball and socket). This allows the surgeon to implant the new components. These normally comprise a titanium stem that is inserted into the humerus and connected to a metal ball. These materials enable the shoulder joint to move freely and without friction. The surface skin cut will be closed with stitches and the area covered with a dressing. 

What are the benefits of shoulder arthroplasty? 

The main benefit is a significant reduction in pain. You'll also experience greater mobility and movement of the joint, allowing you to carry out regular activities without restriction. If a painful shoulder joint prevents you from participating in sporting activities such as golf, tennis or cricket, you should find that you can engage in these hobbies pain-free after your recovery period. Surgery can be especially helpful if you have significant pain or difficulty when undertaking everyday tasks, such as driving or working, and non-invasive treatments or medication proved insufficient. 

Are there any risks to having shoulder replacement surgery? 

Complications during the procedure are rare but the following can sometimes occur: 

  • Infection: This can occur locally at the site of the wound but is rare provided it is kept clean and dry 
  • Nerve damage: Damage to the nerves or arteries is uncommon but there is a small risk with this type of surgery  
  • Loose shoulder joint: There is a small risk that the glenoid can become loose following surgery. A shoulder replacement typically lasts 15 years before it wears out. You may want to have it re-replaced at that time.
  • Unstable joint: The ball can move out of the socket (dislocation). 

Although the need for further surgery is uncommon, revision surgery might be carried out if the original artificial joint fails. This is usually due to a fracture, dislocation or wear and tear of the artificial joint. There are also some general risks relating to the anaesthetic that your surgeon will explain to you before undergoing your shoulder replacement operation. 

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Experts in shoulder replacement surgery

If you have shoulder pain, stiffness or a lack of mobility in the joint, contact our specialist orthopaedic consultants. 

Shoulder replacement surgery FAQs

Your consultant will tell you how best to prepare for your surgery and answer any questions you may have. If you're having a general anaesthetic, your consultant will tell you how long you should avoid eating and drinking beforehand.
The operation usually takes around two hours, depending on its complexity. If you have general anaesthetic, you might have to spend a short amount of time in a recovery room while you come around. Nurses will closely monitor your recovery before you're taken to a ward.

You'll be given painkillers to combat any pain you may experience immediately after surgery. This pain is usually temporary and not related to the original arthritis pain you might have experienced before the procedure. 

Your arm will be in a brace to encourage healing, but you'll be able to take this off for your recommended physiotherapy exercises, which will usually begin a day or two after surgery. 

You'll be given a follow-up appointment where your surgeon will assess your recovery and remove any stitches from your wound. 

You should be able to use the arm that was operated on to start doing simple activities such as eating, dressing and bathing within two weeks of surgery. After around eight weeks you should be able to use the arm without restrictions.

During this time, you'll continue with your physiotherapy exercises and rehabilitation to help regain movement in your shoulder.

It might take up to six months to be completely pain-free. By this time, you should have a return to near-normal movement and strength.

The exact time of your recovery process will depend on a variety of factors such as:

  • The condition of your shoulder muscles and tendons before surgery
  • If there are any complications
  • Your overall health
  • Your commitment to following your rehabilitation programme
After having a total shoulder arthroplasty, you'll need to wait around six to eight weeks before driving. However, this will depend on your recovery, pain and mobility. You should make sure that you can safely use the steering wheel and gears without pain before driving again. 
Your consultant will let you know exactly when you can get back to normal activities, including work, but this will depend on your recovery and the nature of your job. If you have a desk job, you could be able to return to work after around three weeks. If your job is more labour-intensive or requires manual work, you might need to wait up to four months. 

The exact cost of your shoulder replacement surgery will vary depending on your specific treatment and condition. Your consultant will discuss costs with you at your appointment.

There are a variety of ways to pay for your treatment, including self-pay or via a medical insurance policy.

Find out more about our payment options.

Why choose HCA UK

Why choose HCA UK?

Specialist shoulder consultants: You will have an appointment confirmed with an expert within 24 hours. 

Personalised care: If you choose to have shoulder replacement surgery with us, you'll benefit from tailored care as well as post-surgery physiotherapy and rehabilitation. 

Same-day imaging: We can provide any necessary diagnostic imaging on the same day as your consultant appointment at our leading facilities. 

Trusted by patients: Our care was rated very good or excellent by 97% of our orthopaedic patients, and 96% were also likely or very likely to recommend us.

How to book an appointment

Book an appointment with a shoulder or elbow specialist

If you're experiencing pain, stiffness or immobility in your shoulder, you can arrange an appointment with one of our expert consultants. Your appointment will be confirmed within 24 hours. We can also make diagnostic, outpatient and physiotherapy appointments for you. 

Private shoulder joint replacement surgery Consultants

Mr Simon Lambert

Mr Simon Lambert

Orthopaedic Surgery

Mr Omar Haddo

Mr Omar Haddo

Orthopaedic Surgery

Mr Aditya Prinja

Mr Aditya Prinja

Orthopaedic Surgery

Mr Joydeep Sinha

Mr Joydeep Sinha

Orthopaedic Surgery

Our Private shoulder joint replacement surgery locations

Institute of Sport Exercise and Health (ISEH)

Institute of Sport Exercise and Health (ISEH)

170 Tottenham Court Road W1T 7HA London
The Princess Grace Hospital

The Princess Grace Hospital

42-52 Nottingham Place W1U 5NY London
The Lister Hospital

The Lister Hospital

Chelsea Bridge Road, SW1W 8RH London
The Shard Outpatients

The Shard Outpatients

The Shard, 32 St Thomas Street SE1 9BS London
London Bridge Hospital

London Bridge Hospital

27 Tooley Street SE1 2PR London
The Wellington Hospital

The Wellington Hospital

8A Wellington Place NW8 9LE London

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.