Types of totalshoulder replacement surgery

When other methods have failed to relieve your shoulder problem, surgery to replace the joint may be the best option.

This surgery may be right for you if you have:

  • severe shoulder pain that’s interfering with your activities
  • moderate to severe pain when resting — probably making it hard to get a good night's sleep
  • loss of motion and/or weakness in your shoulder
  • no substantial improvement with other treatments.

Your doctor will normally send you to have some imaging done to confirm the diagnosis.

There are 2 ways to perform total shoulder replacement surgery.

Anatomic total shoulder replacement

Anatomic total shoulder replacement involves removing and replacing the damaged surfaces of your shoulder joint with implants to mimic the normal anatomy of your shoulder. A plastic cup made of polyethylene is attached into the shoulder socket and a metal ball with a stem is fitted to the end of your upper arm bone.

If you have osteoarthritis but your rotator cuff tendons are still intact, anatomic total shoulder replacement can provide pain relief as well as improve mobility.

Reverse total shoulder replacement

Reverse total shoulder replacement may be preferable if your rotator cuff tendons are damaged, if you’ve already had a failed shoulder replacement or if you have a complex fracture of your shoulder joint.

In this procedure, the ball and socket are switched around. The ball is fixed to the socket and a cup is attached to the end of your upper arm bone. This surgery changes the centre of rotation of your shoulder joint, so that other muscles can compensate for the damaged rotator cuff.

Nowadays, more than half the shoulder replacements done in Australia are reverse procedures.

Shoulder replacement prostheses

There are a number of different types of shoulder prosthesis.


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.