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Shoulder replacement surgery

We offer private shoulder replacement surgery to treat a range of shoulder problems

At Circle Health Group, we offer private shoulder replacement surgery for people living with a range of distressing shoulder pain conditions. Shoulder replacement can be a highly effective treatment for severe shoulder pain. This might be caused by an injured tendon or muscle, a condition such as arthritis (this can damage the joints and bones that form your shoulder), or something known as shoulder impingement (this happens when a tendon on your shoulder rubs against nearby tissue when your arm is raised, often causing severe pain and tenderness).

Living with shoulder pain can make even the simplest of everyday tasks feel immensely challenging. Activities like brushing your hair and reaching to pick up something from the shelf can seem impossible. But shoulder replacement surgery can significantly improve and even sometimes eliminate your symptoms, helping you regain your independence and quality of life.

Understanding your shoulder joint

Your shoulder joint is made up of your humeral head, a ball at the top of your humerus (arm bone) and a glenoid, which is a shallow socket in your scapula (shoulder blade). The ends of your humeral head (ball) and glenoid (socket) are wrapped in smooth tissue, known as articular cartilage. This cushions the bones that form your shoulder, helping you to move your bones painlessly and with ease. A group of muscles known as your rotator cuff also helps facilitate the movement of your shoulder.

Your rotator cuff consists of four muscles that help keep your shoulder in place and manage its movement. The four tendons of these muscles fuse together to form a single large tendon referred to as your rotator cuff tendon. This tendon attaches to your humeral head (the ball at the top of your arm bone) and passes through a space underneath your acromion (a bony area at the top of your shoulder blade) when you lift your arm. This space is referred to as your subacromial space.

Your rotator cuff tendon can become damaged from inflammation in your tendon, or through a tear. A tear is known as a rotator cuff tear. The articular cartilage in your shoulder joint bones can also become damaged due to arthritis, or a shoulder injury. You might be advised to have shoulder surgery to repair any damage to these structures within your joint.

Shoulder replacement surgery with Circle Health Group

Shoulder replacement surgery involves removing parts of your shoulder joint damaged by injury or disease and replacing them with an artificial component known as a prosthesis. You can have a total or partial shoulder replacement depending on the extent of damage to your shoulder. During total shoulder replacement surgery, your consultant will remove and replace your humeral head and glenoid (ball and socket joint). During partial shoulder replacement surgery, your consultant will only remove and replace your humerus, not your glenoid.

At Circle Health Group, we have a network of dedicated orthopaedic surgeons highly skilled in delivering shoulder replacement surgery. They are supported by multidisciplinary teams of healthcare professionals, including pain management specialists and physiotherapists, to help you recover from surgery as soon as possible.

What is orthopaedic surgery?

Orthopaedics is the medical specialty concerned with the treatment of injuries and disorders of your joints and their associated soft tissues. 'Associated soft tissues' means your ligaments, nerves and muscles. These components make up your musculoskeletal system, which helps to support your bodily functions, protect your skeletal muscles, and aid your movement.

Many different things can cause damage to your musculoskeletal system, most of which can be categorised as either traumatic injuries or medical conditions. This damage can cause pain, inflammation, swelling and stiffness in your affected joint(s), which in turn can dramatically impact your overall quality of life. While pain from an injury or a joint condition may be widespread, it is more often localised in one joint, for example your shoulder, wrist, ankle or hip.

Orthopaedic surgery is any surgery that concerns injuries and conditions of your musculoskeletal system. Many of our specialists are consultant orthopaedic surgeons, meaning they are highly trained in performing surgical procedures.

To find out more about our orthopaedic services, particularly shoulder replacement surgery, you can call us on 0141 300 5009 or book an appointment with one of our orthopaedic surgeons online. 

The cost of shoulder replacement surgery

Please be aware that the following prices are a guide price. Your final price will be confirmed in writing following your consultation and any necessary diagnostic tests.

Patient pathway Initial consultation Diagnostic Investigations Main treatment Post discharge care Guide price
Hospital fees N/A Not included £12,850 Included £12,850
Consultants fees from £200 N/A Included Included £200
Guide price £13,050

There are several reasons why you might need total or partial shoulder replacement surgery, including:


Osteoarthritis impacts an estimated nine million people across the UK. It occurs when the cartilage that covers the ends of your joint begins to break down. As a result, the bones that form your joint begin to rub together causing pain, inflammation and stiffness.

Rheumatoid arthritis:

This form of arthritis affects 1% of the UK population. It is caused by your immune system attacking the cells that line your joints, which leads to swelling, pain, and stiffness in your shoulder.

Frozen shoulder:

A frozen shoulder is caused by an abnormality in the lining of your joint, which can lead to shoulder pain and stiffness. This can last for months and becoming increasingly debilitating.

Rotator cuff tear

Your rotator cuff tendon can tear following an injury such as a shoulder dislocation, an overuse of your shoulder from playing sport, or as part of wear and tear of the tendon due to ageing. 

Shoulder impingement

If your rotator cuff tendon rubs against your acromion (the bony part of your shoulder blade) when you raise your arm, you are suffering from shoulder impingement. A shoulder impingement can occur due to the irritation or inflammation in the bursa (fluid-filled sac) located between your rotator cuff tendon and acromion, or following a tear in your rotator cuff tendon (rotator cuff tear).

Shoulder instability

Shoulder instability can be caused by dislocation, an injury where your humeral head (the ball at the top of your arm bone) is completely removed from its socket, or subluxation (when your joint is only partially out of place after an injury).

Shoulder replacement surgery can help restore your shoulder to its normal function after suffering the effects of any of the above conditions for a prolonged period of time. 

Common symptoms that can indicate the need for shoulder replacement surgery include:

  • Sudden, severe shoulder pain
  • Shoulder pain that worsens when using your arm or shoulder
  • Persistent pain or stiffness
  • Numbness or weakness in your shoulder
  • Shoulder pain that gets worse at night

You can usually see an orthopaedic surgeon for your initial consultation within 48 hours of booking your appointment with us.

During this initial appointment, your consultant will ask about your general health and your medical history in more detail. They will want to know about any existing medical conditions, as well as the current symptoms you are experiencing. They'll ask you how these symptoms impact your everyday life, how often they occur, and whether you have had any treatment for them yet.

In order to assess your symptoms and make an accurate diagnosis of your concern, your consultant will next carry out a gentle, but thorough, physical examination of your shoulder. They might also arrange for you to have an ultrasound scan or X-Ray if they feel that anything needs further investigation.

Once they have identified what's causing your problems, they will share more information about shoulder replacement surgery and whether it is the right treatment option for you. Shoulder replacement surgery is rarely the first treatment option we will try. There are other options for less severe shoulder issues, including steroid injection therapy and physiotherapy to help reduce inflammation in your shoulder and ease your pain. Your consultant will discuss these options with you.

Your initial consultation is an important and positive step in your journey towards improved health and wellbeing. It's where we start to get to know you as an individual and it's from the information that we find out during this session that we will start building a treatment plan, bespoke to your needs. To make the most of the initial consultation, you should feel free to talk as openly and honestly as you like about the symptoms you're experiencing, the way they make you feel, and what you're hoping to get from surgery.

Your surgeon will give you a good idea of timelines during your initial consultation, after which they'll put together a fixed-price treatment package based on everything you have discussed together.

There is not a lot you can do to prepare for shoulder replacement surgery. Your orthopaedic surgeon might recommend incorporating certain lifestyle factors in the runup to surgery to ensure you are as healthy as possible. These might include staying active before surgery (this doesn't have to be high-impact exercise, but can be regular gentle walking or even swimming to remain fit), as well maintaining a balanced diet that suits you as an individual.

We encourage people to stay as healthy as possible before surgery to decrease the risk of complications happening during surgery, although these are already unlikely to occur. Being healthy and mobile also helps you recover from surgery faster.

No alcohol

You should avoid drinking alcohol for at least 48 hours before having shoulder replacement surgery. Please speak with your consultant about this in more detail.

No food or drink before surgery

You might need to avoid eating or drinking after midnight the night before surgery. Your consultant will discuss this with you in more detail.

Changes to your medication

Your consultant will also share information on whether you should avoid taking your usual medication before going into hospital, or the kind of medication you might need to take after you have surgery.

Eliminate tripping hazards at home

Remember to eliminate any tripping hazards such as uneven flooring (this could be anything from uneven tiles to loose rugs and carpets) or general mess in your home before surgery. This is to ensure you don't trip and injure your shoulder further by trying to cushion your fall.

Making your home recovery-friendly

In the weeks after your surgery, your mobility will be limited as you recover. We recommend stocking up your house with food and resources or arranging for a friend or family member to do so.

You'll also need to think about how you're getting to and from hospital, and have this arranged before you come in for surgery. Perhaps a friend or family member can give you a lift, or maybe you'd rather book a taxi, which we can arrange for you in hospital.

There are two main types of shoulder replacement surgery: total and partial surgery. As the name suggests, total shoulder replacement surgery involves removing and replacing a larger proportion of your shoulder joint.

Partial shoulder replacement surgery

Before you have surgery, you will be given a general anaesthetic, which means you will not be awake for the duration of the procedure. Your consultant orthopaedic surgeon will begin by making an incision across your shoulder joint. They will remove your damaged humerus and replace it with an artificial component known as a prosthesis. This is usually made of a combination of ceramic, titanium, and metal. 

Before placing the permanent prosthesis, your surgeon will have first used a test implant to check that their measurements are correct and that the new joint moves as it should. The aim is to fit the prosthesis as precisely as possible in order that your new shoulder feels as natural and works as well as possible.

Your surgeon will close the incision using dissolvable stitches. The outermost layer of your skin will also be closed with glue or sutures.

The procedure typically takes around three hours for your consultant to perform.

Total shoulder replacement surgery

As with partial shoulder replacement surgery, a total shoulder replacement is performed under general anaesthesia.

During the operation, your consultant will remove and replace your humeral head and glenoid (the ball and socket of your elbow joint) with a prosthesis. They will ensure the prosthesis is fitted properly before closing the incision using dissolvable stitches. The outermost layer of your skin will also be closed with glue or sutures.

A shoulder replacement operation (whether partial or total) typically takes one to two hours. After surgery, you will be taken to a recovery room to be monitored, then once our team are confident everything has gone well, you'll be transferred to your private bedroom to start your recovery in comfort.

The procedure typically takes around one to two hours for your consultant to perform.

It usually takes between three and six months to fully recover from shoulder replacement surgery, but this differs depending on many factors, including your general health and fitness, your age, and your lifestyle.

Most people have to stay in hospital after surgery for two or three days, but this depends on how quickly you start to recover.

When you first wake up you will likely experience pain and tenderness in your shoulder as the general anaesthesia wears off and you regain feeling in your shoulder. This pain can be managed with medication. Your physiotherapist will help you sit up and take your first steps after surgery, ensuring you can move your arm and shoulder in its sling. They will gently show you a series of exercises to perform at home to strengthen the muscles in your shoulder and keep it as mobile as possible. This exercise regime will be tailored to your individual needs.

Two to six weeks after surgery

You can start incorporating gentle exercise back into your routine after two to six weeks. It's different for everyone, and your surgeon and physiotherapist will have explained to you what to do and how to know when you're ready. Going on long, slow walks can really help you build up your fitness and mobility again. Remember to continue doing your physiotherapy exercises at this point.

You can also usually return to work at this stage, depending on the type of work you do. Most people with office jobs are able to go back into work, but if you have a manual or physical job you might need more time off. Again, your consultant will have talked you through all these factors.

You will have a follow-up appointment during this time to monitor your recovery and the mobility of your shoulder. You can stop wearing a sling about six weeks after surgery, but it is needed initially to protect your shoulder during its early phases of healing.

Twelve weeks after surgery

Six to 12 weeks after surgery, you should be well on the way to a full recovery and able to carry out everyday activities with ease.

Pain after shoulder replacement surgery: what is normal?

Some initial pain and swelling around your shoulder joint are normal following surgery. Your consultant can advise how to reduce this pain and swelling through physiotherapy, heat therapy, and medication. They can also advise how much pain is normal for you to experience, and the next steps to take if your pain level is unusually high.

The pain you feel at this point is called post-surgical pain, and while it might be intense, it should be different to the shoulder pain you experienced before. For most people, the chronic joint pain they experienced before surgery will be gone.

It is important to remember that complications from shoulder replacement surgery are rare and that there are risks attached to any surgery, not just shoulder replacement surgery. Most people who have the operation will not experience complications.

Potential complications during any surgical procedure include:

  • Infection in the surgical wound
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Scarring
  • Blood clots
  • Chest infection
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

Specific complications that can occur during a shoulder replacement surgery include:

  • Pain in your shoulder persisting after surgery
  • Damage to your nerves
  • Damage to blood vessels
  • Infection in your shoulder
  • Loosening of your joint
  • Shoulder dislocation
  • Blood clots

Serious complications as a result of shoulder replacement surgery are rare. If you have any concerns about these, speak with your consultant. They will be able to discuss their likelihood with you in more detail and put your worries at ease.

How long will I have to wear a sling after shoulder replacement surgery?

You will have to wear a sling for the first six weeks after shoulder replacement surgery.

How do you know when it's time to have shoulder replacement surgery?

This differs for everyone and should always follow the advice of your consultant, but shoulder replacement surgery is typically needed when you are in severe chronic pain that radiates down your arm, and when the pain significantly impacts important factors of your everyday life, such as your sleep and social life.

Will a shoulder replacement fix a torn rotator cuff?

Yes, a shoulder replacement can help restore normal function to your shoulder that is damaged by a torn rotator cuff.

How painful is a shoulder replacement?

You will not be awake during the surgery, so you will not experience pain during the procedure, but you will probably experience it immediately after you wake up from surgery and during your recovery period at home. This is normal and can be managed with medication and physiotherapy. As you heal, the pain will ease. This is post-surgical pain, not pain caused by your new shoulder joint.

What can you never do after shoulder replacement?

After you fully recover from surgery your shoulder will return to its full function, but there are certain movements you must avoid as your recover, such as lifting heavy objects and reaching behind your body or above your heard. Your consultant will ensure you have a checklist of movements to avoid to protect your healing.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times and locations to fit your routine
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and consultant suit your needs
  • Personalised, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams
  • Support by the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your care

If you would like to learn more about this procedure, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in September 2022. Next review due September 2025.

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