Total Shoulder Replacement

Dr. Benjamin Szerlip  is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon serving the communities of Austin, Texas.

Dr. Szerlip provides total shoulder replacement surgeries using the most advanced techniques to restore your joint, help get rid of pain, and improve quality of life.

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What Patients Are Saying

“My husband and I are amazed by the care that Dr. Ben gave us. My hubby had surgery to remove a bone spur and I had rotator cuff 3 months later. We had exceptional care and were truly informed before, during, and after treatment. Our PT wants to send others to him because of how well we are progressing in our therapy. We would absolutely recommend him to others! He’ll treat you like a real person and talk to you as a friend. Super appreciative of his concern and excellent skills!” — Dina P.

What is Total Shoulder Replacement?

Total shoulder replacement involves surgically replacing damaged sections of the shoulder joint with artificial components. This is often done to alleviate severe pain and restore function in shoulders affected by conditions like arthritis or injury.

During the procedure, the damaged ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder is replaced with prosthetic components made of metal and plastic, allowing smoother movement and reducing discomfort.

Recovery typically involves physical therapy to regain strength and mobility in the shoulder. Overall, total shoulder replacement aims to improve the quality of life for individuals experiencing significant shoulder problems.

Why Would I Need a Shoulder Replacement Surgery?

If you have painful, limited arm and shoulder movement that gets in the way of your ability to perform everyday tasks comfortably or wakes you up at night, your surgeon provides consultation and an exam to determine if a shoulder replacement is recommended. 

Some of the diseases and injuries that can lead to shoulder replacement surgery include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Post-traumatic arthritis
  • Rotator cuff tear arthropathy
  • Avascular necrosis (osteonecrosis)
  • Severe fractures

Your surgeon may suggest shoulder replacement surgery if medication, injections, or physical therapy aren’t relieving your pain or improving your mobility. 

Your surgeon may also propose shoulder replacement if you have suffered from shoulder fractures or if you have a severely torn rotator cuff. 

What Should I Expect During a Total Shoulder Replacement?

During shoulder replacements,Dr. Szerlip replaces the ball (humeral head) of the shoulder joint with an implant that includes a stem with a smooth, rounded metal head. 

They also replace the socket (glenoid) with a smooth, round plastic cup that fits the rounded metal head. Total shoulder replacement recreates the natural ball and socket anatomy of your shoulder joint. 

How Should I Prepare For Total Shoulder Replacement?

You have a consultation and medical evaluation before your shoulder arthroplasty surgery. Dr. Szerlip gives you personalized preparation instructions. But in general, you should:

  • Inform your doctor about any medications, vitamins, and supplements you take
  • Stop taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and most arthritis drugs two weeks before your surgery
  • Talk to your surgeon about not taking blood thinners before your surgery
  • Set up your home for easy use after surgery 
  • Arrange for someone to help you at home, at least for the first couple of days after surgery

You will need to fast for at least eight hours before your surgery. Wear loose-fitting clothing and a button-front shirt. You’ll have limited use of your arm after surgery, and these types of clothing are easier to put on. 

What Should I Expect During Recovery?

Your surgeon gives you customized instructions on how to take care of your shoulder for a smooth recovery. 

For example, typical advice and precautions after shoulder arthroplasty include:

  • Take prescribed medication as directed
  • Wear the sling as recommended 
  • Do not use your surgical arm to get out of chairs or bed
  • Do not use your surgical arm to pull anything to you
  • Follow your program of home exercises but don’t overdo it
  • Don’t participate in sports or lift any heavy objects for at least twelve weeks
  • Get home support if you need it
  • Use caution to avoid falls


You will have some temporary restrictions after shoulder replacement. For example, you wear a sling for several weeks and won’t be able to lift your arm above your head. You may not operate a car for two to four weeks after your shoulder replacement surgery. 

Your total recovery time will likely take approximately 4 to 6 months. Physical therapy may be needed to gain range of motion with the new joint. Make sure to attend your follow-up appointments and follow your doctor’s advice for a rapid recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions About Total Shoulder Replacement

Below, you will find some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the total shoulder replacement procedure. Be sure to contact Dr. Szerlip if you have any other questions. 

Is total shoulder replacement common?

Around 53,000 people have shoulder arthroplasty every year. 

How do I know if I need a total shoulder replacement surgery?

Dr. Szerlip provides comprehensive exams, including X-rays and other imaging studies to diagnose the cause of shoulder pain. He will let you know if a total shoulder replacement is your best option to restore your shoulder function and relieve your pain.

What are the alternatives to shoulder replacement?

Total shoulder replacement surgery is rarely a first-line approach to managing shoulder pain and reduced mobility. In most cases, your shoulder specialist tries other shoulder treatments such as medication, physical therapy, steroid injections, or viscosupplementation.  

What are the risks and complications of a shoulder replacement?

All surgeries, including shoulder replacements,  include some risks, such as infection and nerve injury. Joint replacement procedures also include a minor risk of prosthesis problems. 

However, rest assured that Dr. Szerlip has decades of experience and uses the most up-to-date surgical techniques and equipment available to minimize any patient risks. 

How long does it take to recover from a total shoulder replacement?

Every patient recovers at their own pace, but most recover fully within four to six months. Following Dr. Szerlip’s instructions and attending your physical therapy and follow-up appointments can help you stay on the right track.

If you’re concerned about a shoulder fracture, give us a call or request and appointment online. We will be glad to help.