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Shoulder Replacement

Shoulder Replacement (Shoulder Arthroplasty) Overivew

The shoulder joint is lined with cartilage to help protect the bones and allow a smooth, pain free range of motion. Shoulder arthritis can be a debilitating condition that occurs when cartilage begins to wear away from normal wear and tear. Osteoarthritis commonly affects the older population and is a progressive condition marked by inflammation, swelling and persistent shoulder pain. Patients who have tried non-surgical measures, such as physical therapy, medications, injections and/or arthroscopic shoulder surgery, and still experience painful arthritis symptoms may be a candidate for shoulder replacement. Otherwise known as shoulder arthroplasty, shoulder replacement surgery can allow patients to return to a healthy, normal life following the procedure. Dr. Brian Waterman, shoulder surgeon, offers this shoulder treatment to patients who have exhausted other treatment options.


During shoulder arthroplasty, a small open incision is used to access the shoulder joint from the front of the shoulder. Dr. Waterman will replace the natural degenerated cartilage and bones of the shoulder joint with metal and plastic components. The components allow for smooth, pain free motion of the shoulder and are held in place by a combination of medical bone cement and fitting the components tightly in place. The procedure may sometimes be performed as an outpatient, or may require an overnight stay in the hospital.Typically, patients experience significant pain and functional improvement following the procedure. However, the prosthesis can wear out over time, and therefore the procedure is generally reserved for patients over the age of 50. Limited risks of shoulder replacement include things like bleeding, infection and injuries to nerves or vessels.

Recovery and Rehabilitation after Shoulder Replacement

In order for the shoulder to regain motion, strength and overall mobility, physical therapy and rehabilitation is required following shoulder arthroplasty. The initial therapy focuses on safe motion with a set of restrictions for six weeks. Patients can expect to be performing normal activities pain free after a recovery period of approximately two to three months.

At a Glance

Dr. Brian Waterman, MD

  • Chief & Fellowship Director, Sports Medicine, Wake Forest
  • Team Physician, Wake Forest University, Chicago White Sox
  • Military affiliation/Decorated military officer and surgeon
  • Learn more

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