Shoulder Replacement Surgery

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Shoulder replacement surgery can give you back your life. With a new shoulder, you can throw a ball, pick up a child, or do yoga again. You won't miss the painful, sleepless nights and the constant ache of a damaged, diseased joint. You'll feel restored.

But an operation on your body does mean risks and recovery time. You want a hospital with high-quality services and a surgeon you can trust.

Shoulder Replacement at UVA

At UVA, you'll get care from a team that:

  • Performs a high number of shoulder replacements every year
  • Treats elite athletes and college sports teams
  • Includes nurses and therapists who specialize in orthopedics

We also streamline the process to make the experience easier. You can often have a same-day procedure - no overnight stay. And we'll assign a special joint care coordinator to:

  • Help you navigate the system
  • Answer questions
  • Understand your recovery instructions

Expert Shoulder Replacement Surgeons

Our shoulder surgeons have extensive experience and training. Their fellowship training means they spent an entire year focused on shoulder replacements. Not every shoulder surgeon can claim that depth of education.

Shoulder Replacement & Recovery

If your shoulder pain interferes with your daily life, it’s time to get care. UVA orthopedic surgeons Brian Werner, MD, and Stephen Brockmeier, MD, talk about the causes of shoulder pain and treatment options available at UVA. View shoulder replacement transcript.

Do You Need a Shoulder Replacement?

Most people who choose a shoulder joint replacement suffer from:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Rotator cuff injury
  • Shoulder fracture
  • Tendon or ligament tears

Any injury or repeated use can lead to the breakdown of cartilage. It's this breakdown that causes stiffness, swelling, and pain.

Whether you need surgery or not depends on your level of pain and movement. If shoulder pain keeps you from doing what you love, or what you need to do, you'll want to seek care.

We always try to find non-surgical solutions first. Learn more about your joint pain options.

Mary Lou Stearns tells the story of her shoulder replacement at UVA

Shoulder Pain No More

"My range of motion is already 100 percent better and my pain is gone." In her own words, Mary Lou Stearns talks about the new lease on life she feels after having a shoulder replacement at UVA.

Read Mary Lou's story

Types of Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Our expertise covers:

  • Total shoulder replacements
  • Reverse shoulder replacements
  • Redo or revision of past shoulder replacement

Total Shoulder Replacements

Wear and tear over time, inflammation, and injury can all cause arthritis. Arthritis in your shoulder limits mobility and causes chronic pain.

In this procedure, we replace your shoulder joint with an artificial implant. The new ball and socket consist of plastic and metal.

You can have this surgery if you have arthritis and have not torn your rotator cuff.

Reverse Total Shoulder Replacements

If you have arthritis and have a torn rotator cuff, or have a shoulder fracture that cannot be fixed, you may need a reverse shoulder replacement. Arthritis with a torn rotator cuff causes severe, constant pain that can also prevent raising the arm.

In this surgery, we replace your shoulder socket with a metal ball and the ball of your joint with a plastic socket. This reverse method relieves pain and restores movement better than the conventional type when there is a torn rotator cuff in addition to arthritis.

Physical Therapy Before & After Surgery

Sometimes, people need physical therapy before an operation. Obesity or other issues can get in the way of a successful procedure. Our teams will work with you to create a plan to get you in shape for your surgery.

After you get your shoulder replaced, you'll need physical therapy. Part of recovery involves:

  • Building muscle
  • Teaching your muscles how to move again

We aim to support you throughout your journey, from pain to healing.

What to Expect: Shoulder Replacement Timeline

How long will it all take?

  • The procedure lasts 1-2 hours
  • Average hospital stay: 1 night
  • When you can shower again: 10-14 days after surgery
  • How long you’ll wear a sling: 4-6 weeks
  • Back at work: As early as 2 weeks, depending on your job
  • Driving again when off pain meds and out of the sling
  • Back to your favorite activity, swimming, tennis, etc: a few months

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