Do I need total shoulder replacement surgery?

12 April 2021

It’s increasingly common for people who have difficulty with shoulder pain and mobility to consider total shoulder replacement surgery. If you’re experiencing a severe or ongoing shoulder problem such as arthritis of the shoulder, a rotator cuff tear or even a fracture, you know how crucial it is to find medical solutions that support living a full and active life. Mr Soong Chua is a Melbourne-based surgeon who specialises in shoulder joint surgery. If you are considering this procedure, Soong Chua is a leader in the field who provides the highest level of expert care to his patients.


Are you a candidate for total shoulder replacement surgery?

This depends on your particular circumstances. There are two common reasons that people have a total shoulder replacement surgery, related to arthritis. The first is pain. Severe shoulder pain can be debilitating. Primarily, shoulder replacement surgery is a procedure that can reduce pain for the patient.

Another reason people may opt for a total shoulder replacement surgery is if they have experienced a significant loss in shoulder mobility (stiffness). Extremely stiff, immobile shoulder joints can benefit from a total replacement surgery, which can allow patients to access a wide range of motion again.


Why would I need total shoulder replacement surgery?

Surgery can be a powerful medical solution to complex health issues. There are three major problems that are frequently addressed by shoulder replacement surgery.

  • Arthritis of the shoulder

Arthritis is a degenerative disease where the joints of the body become inflamed and stiff. It most commonly occurs in people over the age of 50 and can range from dull to severe pain triggered by a number of factors. It can also develop many years after a traumatic injury such as a fracture or dislocation. If arthritis of the shoulder is an issue you are facing, a surgeon would examine the status of your shoulder and discuss whether a partial or total shoulder replacement could mitigate against pain.

  • Rotator cuff tear

A rotator cuff tear occurs when the four muscles which wrap around the bone of the arm are injured. When these tissues tear, it can destabilise the mobility of the shoulder. Unfortunately, one potential long-term consequence of an unaddressed rotator cuff tear is an increased risk of arthritis. This is a specific type of arthritis that develops in the presence of large, untreated rotator cuff tears. A reverse total shoulder replacement can reduce pain and restore function if you have this type or arthritis.

  • Fractures

Sometimes serious fractures may be difficult to resolve through other, less comprehensive solutions. If you suffer a high-impact fracture to bones around the shoulder, replacement of the ball or joint with an artificial shoulder ball can help with a return to use.

Surgery can be a powerful medical solution to complex health issues

What should I do?

You should see a doctor if you are concerned about ongoing issues with your shoulders that may require total shoulder replacement surgery.

You might need to consider seeking further medical advice if you are experiencing

  • Consistent, high level shoulder pain that is noticeable when partaking in everyday life activities
  • Continued pain while resting/ inactive e.g. when in bed or watching TV
  • Minor pain management strategies (taking painkillers, stretching) are not working

If you do require total shoulder replacement surgery, Mr Soong Chua’s practice are here to help discuss your options. Please get in touch for more information.

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