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Is Shoulder Replacement Surgery Worth It? Weighing the Pros and Cons

What is Shoulder Replacement Surgery?

Shoulder replacement surgery is a procedure that involves removing damaged parts of your shoulder and replacing them with artificial components. The goal of this surgery is to relieve pain and restore mobility in the shoulder. If you’re asking yourself if shoulder replacement surgery is worth it, begin by weighing the pros and cons. In this blog post I will discuss more about shoulder replacement surgery and why it may be worth it for you.

Why is Shoulder Replacement Surgery Done?

If you are experiencing continued pain and reduced mobility in your shoulder, and conservative treatment hasn’t provided relief, it may be time to consider a shoulder replacement as an option. This type of surgery is typically done to relieve pain caused by various conditions such as arthritis, fractures, or rotator cuff tear arthropathy, especially when other treatments have not been effective.

If pain is waking you up at night, and you have found it difficult to participate in normal activities, talk to a shoulder specialist, like myself, to see if this procedure is right for you.

Evaluating the Worth of Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Weighing the Benefits

Shoulder replacement surgery can provide significant benefits for someone who has been suffering shoulder pain. Weighing the benefits and what to expect from this procedure can help you make a better educated decision.

Conditions to Address

There are several reasons why you might need total shoulder replacement surgery. The most common reason I see in my practice is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of the cartilage in the joint. Cartilage cushions the bones, but with normal wear and tear due to age or injury, that cushion begins to break down. This causes the bones to eventually rub together (known as bone-on-bone) causing pain, stiffness, and limited mobility in the shoulder joint.

Other conditions that can lead to needing shoulder replacement surgery include rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis – chronic inflammatory conditions, post-traumatic arthritis, and avascular necrosis (loss of blood supply to the bone).

Who is a Candidate?

In addition to having one of these conditions, you might be a candidate for shoulder replacement surgery if you’ve tried other conservative treatments like physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications but haven’t had relief from your pain. If your pain continually interferes with your ability to perform normal everyday functions like cooking, driving, showering, or even sleeping. Weakness and reduced range of motion are also a sign that it’s time to schedule a consultation to decide if this is the best option for you.

Typically, the average shoulder replacement patient is between 60 and 80 years old. However, each patient is unique, so depending on the situation, age can vary greatly. I find that it really just depends on the overall health of the patient and the severity of their shoulder condition. Therefore, to really determine if you’re a candidate for shoulder replacement, be sure to see a surgeon who specializes in treatment of the shoulder.

What to Expect After Surgery

Surgical Procedure

During shoulder replacement surgery, the surgeon removes the damaged parts of the shoulder and replaces it with artificial components or implants. This will include a humeral stem, a humeral head, and a glenoid implant. Shoulder replacement surgery is typically performed as an outpatient procedure, which means you will go home the same day, unless decided otherwise with your surgeon.

Pain Management

The goal with this surgery is to relieve chronic and debilitating pain that other treatments have otherwise been unable to address.

The Recovery Process

Recovery from shoulder replacement surgery typically involves physical therapy and gradually increasing activity levels. Through post-operative physical therapy, your therapist will help you regain range of motion and strength in your shoulder. They will also teach you exercises to do at home to continue your progress.

Most patients can expect to return to normal activities within three to six months after surgery.

Improved Mobility

After recovery, many patients experience improved mobility in their shoulder, allowing them to get back to activities they enjoy.

Enhanced Quality of Life

Overall, the relief from pain and restored function can dramatically improve a patient’s quality of life.

Making the Decision: Is it Worth It?

Ultimately, the decision to have shoulder replacement surgery is a personal one that should be made in consultation with a shoulder specialist. It is important to consider your pain levels, mobility issues, overall health, and personal goals. For the right patients, this procedure often helps relieve shoulder pain and gets them back to doing the things they enjoy doing.

Is shoulder replacement surgery worth it when comparing it to your own pain and restrictions? For many, the answer is a resounding yes, but it will depend on your own unique situation and diagnosis. The opportunity to live without chronic shoulder pain and to regain mobility can be life changing. However, it is important to fully understand the whole picture and talk to a shoulder specialist, like myself, to weigh the pros and cons before making your decision.


Contact my office to schedule an appointment with me to discuss your shoulder pain and if a shoulder replacement surgery is worth it for you.

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Modesto Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Eric Giang

Dr. Eric Giang, DO

Dr. Giang is a leading fellowship-trained shoulder surgeon in Modesto, CA. As a trusted orthopedic surgeon, he is serving the Modesto community with a commitment to enhancing the quality of life for every patient.

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