Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Total Shoulder Replacement, Reverse Shoulder Replacement

Shoulder replacement surgery may be recommended when non-surgical treatments are unsuccessful in relieving chronic shoulder pain caused by advanced shoulder arthritis. Duke shoulder surgeons are experts in the different approaches to shoulder replacement surgery, as well as the different prosthetic devices used to replace the shoulder joint. Our goal is to educate you about your options and help you determine if shoulder replacement surgery is right for you.

We Offer Shoulder Replacement Options

The shoulder is a “ball and socket” joint in which the arm bone (the ball) fits into the rounded top of the shoulder blade (the socket). Years of overuse can lead to arthritis, which occurs when the protective cartilage that covers the bone is worn away. This allows the ball and socket to rub against each other, which results in pain and limits the range of shoulder motion. Arthritis can also develop when a tear prevents the group of muscles and tendons that make up the rotator cuff from doing its job -- which is to control shoulder movement and hold the shoulder joint together.

Duke shoulder surgeons will often start with conservative approaches to help you get relief from shoulder pain caused by arthritis. When non-surgical methods don’t provide relief and you can no longer lift your arm to perform daily activities, shoulder replacement surgery may be recommended. Depending on your age, level of activity, and the severity of your shoulder arthritis, your shoulder surgeon may recommend one of these approaches to rebuilding your shoulder joint:

  • Total shoulder replacement surgery -- also known as shoulder arthroplasty. In this approach, the arthritic ball and socket are removed and replaced with a metal and plastic shoulder joint. Duke shoulder surgeons have extensive experience performing this procedure, which has been in use for more than 30 years.
  • Partial shoulder replacement. People who want to continue very heavy lifting or who only have damage to one side of the joint may be candidates for this approach, which replaces only the ball of the joint. 
  • Shoulder revision surgery. This may be recommended when a previous shoulder replacement fails, because of either infection or an implant that was incorrectly positioned or has become loose. People from across the country who need shoulder revision surgery come to Duke due to our shoulder surgeons' well-known expertise in performing this procedure.
  • Reverse total shoulder replacement surgery. Candidates for this procedure have severe shoulder arthritis or an irreparable rotator cuff tear. In this approach, the position of the ball and socket of the shoulder joint are reversed so that the new ball is attached to the shoulder bone and the plastic socket is attached to the upper arm bone. The deltoid muscle takes on the job of the rotator cuff to regain the shoulder’s range of motion. People often come to Duke shoulder surgeons for help in correcting problems following reverse total shoulder replacements or failed rotator cuff repairs that were performed elsewhere.

Our Team Approach to Your Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Our expertise in shoulder replacement surgery is well known, and our team approach to your surgery and recovery is focused on achieving the best possible outcome for you.

  • Our orthopaedic surgeons have completed advanced training in shoulder surgery and joint replacement. Their training, skill, and experience combine to provide you the highest quality of care.
  • We perform more shoulder replacement surgeries than any other center in the Southeast, and many centers refer their most challenging cases to us.
  • Our shoulder surgeons develop and test new developments in shoulder prostheses as they become available.
  • Your team also includes physician assistants and orthopaedic-trained nurses who specialize in helping you prepare for and recover from shoulder replacement surgery.
  • Physical therapy is an integral part of your recovery as well. Our shoulder-specific physical therapists work closely with you to help you regain strength and movement in your shoulder in the weeks following your surgery.
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