Total shoulder replacement Surgery

Using this guide What's covered

Here you’ll find answers to many of your questions about total shoulder replacement. Learn how it’s done, what it may cost, what your recovery may be like, and more.

For personal insights, see our patient experience videos in which HCF members talk frankly about their preparation, surgery and recovery.

Cost indicator

Discover the typical out-of-pocket costs HCF members can expect to pay for total shoulder replacement surgery and learn how your choice of surgeon and hospital affect that cost.


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Learn more about reverse total shoulder replacement surgery

This animation shows how a reverse total shoulder replacement is done

The basics

What is total shoulder replacement surgery

Total shoulder replacement is surgery to replace the damaged ball and socket joint in your shoulder.

How's it done?

Total shoulder replacement involves removing and replacing the damaged surfaces of the ball and socket joint. This can be done with a metal ball and a plastic (polyethylene) cup which mimic your normal shoulder joint. The procedure is called anatomic total shoulder replacement. It can also be done in reverse — where the ball is attached to your shoulder and the cup is attached to your upper arm bone (humerus). This is called reverse total shoulder replacement. The reverse procedure is now more common.

Where's it done?

Total shoulder replacement surgery is done in a hospital. The average length of stay is 1–2 days.

How long does it take?

It normally takes between about 2 hours, depending on the complexity of the surgery.

Who's involved?

In addition to an orthopaedic surgeon, and possibly an assistant surgeon, it also involves:

  • an anaesthetist
  • nurses
  • a pathologist
  • a radiologist (for X-rays)
  • a physiotherapist
  • an occupational therapist.

The details


Non-surgical treatments for shoulder pain

There may be alternatives to total shoulder replacement surgery depending on your condition.
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Types of total shoulder replacement surgery

There are different ways to perform total shoulder replacement surgery.
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Shoulder replacement prostheses

There are a number of different types of shoulder prosthesis.
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Results vs risks of the procedure

The benefits and risks of total shoulder replacement surgery.
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Choosing a specialist

How to find an orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in this procedure.
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Questions for your specialist

What you should ask before going ahead with total shoulder replacement surgery.
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Preparing for your procedure

Pre-operative tests and preparation before total shoulder replacement surgery.
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Your anaesthetic options

About the anaesthetic and pain relief after your surgery.
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Going to hospital

What to expect on the day of your surgery.
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Your procedure

What happens in the operating theatre.
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After your procedure

Your hospital stay.
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Resuming activities and watching for problems.
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Rehab for your shoulder

The importance of rehab to regain function in your shoulder.
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People who’ve had a total shoulder replacement talk about their preparation, surgery and recovery.

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Important information

Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.