What Is Shoulder Replacement Surgery?

Total shoulder replacement, or total shoulder arthroplasty (TSA), is a surgical procedure in which your shoulder joint is replaced by a prosthetic implant. During shoulder replacement surgery:

  • An orthopaedic surgeon* removes the head (ball) of your shoulder joint and places a metal stem into your upper arm bone (humerus).
  • A metal or ceramic joint is placed on the metal stem, forming half of your new shoulder joint.
  • The shoulder section is reshaped and lined with a metal or ceramic cup, creating a new socket to hold the ball. A plastic liner may be put in the socket to keep the new joint moving smoothly.
  • The ball is slipped into the socket to restore movement and create your new joint.

For some patients, a reverse shoulder replacement approach provides greater range of motion. While traditional shoulder replacement surgery uses a metal ball on top of the arm bone and a plastic socket on the shoulder blade, a reverse shoulder replacement uses the ball on the shoulder blade and the socket on the arm bone.

If you have persistent shoulder pain and fit any of the following descriptions, you may be a good candidate for a shoulder replacement:

  • Shoulder pain limits your everyday activities.
  • You are no longer able to manage joint pain with typical over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
  • Activities you used to take part in, such as golf, bicycling and other exercise, have become too painful to continue.
  • Less invasive treatments, such as cortisone injections and physical therapy, do not relieve your pain.

Meet the Teams

Northwestern Medicine spine surgeon Dr. Aruna Ganju performing surgery.
Northwestern Medicine Orthopaedics has a complete range of specialized orthopaedic care to get you back in motion, offering leading-edge care for arthritis, recovery from sports injury, and joint replacement that meets your needs.
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    In the spirit of keeping you well-informed, some of the physician(s) and/or individual(s) identified are neither agents nor employees of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare or any of its affiliate organizations. They have selected our facilities as places where they want to treat and care for their private patients.