Shoulder Replacement

The shoulder is a ball and socket joint with a large range of movement. The joint sometimes needs replacing. This is usually when severe arthritis affects the joint surfaces and the shoulder becomes painful and difficult to move. The arthritis may result from various reasons: Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Instability Arthropathy, Post-traumatic (due to fracture malunion) arthropathy, Cuff arthropathy and other.

Arthritis Arthritis

The Operation

The main reason for this operation is to reduce the pain in your shoulder. The operation replaces the damaged surface of the ball of the joint (see pictures) This shoulder replacement called "the Copeland Shoulder" was developed at the Reading Shoulder Unit. Occasionally a different type of replacement may be used. The doctors will discuss your individual surgery after the operation.

If the inner tendons of your shoulder (the rotator cuff) are severely torn or abscent you may need a different type of shoulder replacement -"the Verso Shoulder" that was developed as well at the Reading Shoulder Unit.

General Advice

You will usually be in hospital for about a week after your operation. Following your surgery you will be in a sling. This is for comfort only and you may take it off as you wish.

A physiotherapist will see you in hospital to give you advice about using your arm and exercises. Outpatient physiotherapy will be arranged when you are discharged.

Your arm will be painful at first and in the first three to four weeks you will be quite one handed which will significantly affect your daily activities.

As your pain improves so will the amount you can use your arm.

Driving and most light activities are usually possible four to six weeks after the surgery. However the strength in your arm will take longer to improve, and will be dependent on the amount of pain and stiffness you had prior to the surgery.

A doctor or physiotherapist will discuss this with you.


As with all surgery there is a risk of some complications. These are rare, but you should be aware of them before your operation. They include:

  • Complications relating to the anaesthetic.
  • Infection
  • Unwanted prolonged pain and/or stiffness
  • Damage to the nerves or blood vessels around the shoulder.
  • Fracture
  • need to use different type of prosthesis (Stemmed, reversed)
  • Prostheis wear
  • Loosening
  • A need to redo the surgery.

If you require further information please discuss with the doctors either in clinic or on admission.