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Shoulder Replacement Surgery

The Mass General Brigham shoulder replacement team works with patients from around the world to help restore shoulder function and alleviate pain through rotator cuff repair, shoulder arthroscopy and other shoulder surgeries. Our shoulder surgeons collaborate with shoulder-specialized physical therapists and sports medicine practitioners to deliver comprehensive, customized care to each patient.

Provider performing shoulder stretches with male patient

Expertise in shoulder replacement

Shoulder replacement surgery (also known as shoulder arthroplasty or total shoulder replacement) replaces parts of the shoulder affected by arthritis with an implant called a prothesis. The procedure is typically for patients who have arthritis, significant cartilage damage or loss due to wear-and-tear or shoulder trauma, or significant rotator cuff tears that cannot be repaired or reconstructed. 

During shoulder replacement surgery, the ball of your shoulder joint and the socket are replaced with metal and/or plastic prothesis parts that can move smoothly in the joint. Shoulder replacement surgery at Mass General Brigham is conducted in both inpatient and outpatient settings and features the latest advances in postoperative pain management.

Our doctors will consider your imaging scans, medical history and overall health when determining if shoulder replacement surgery may be right for you. They will discuss all available surgical options with you and, together, you will decide your treatment, rehabilitation and pain management plan. Age is not necessarily a limiting factor, and well-managed medical problems, such as hypertension or diabetes, also may not disqualify a patient for the procedure.

Instead of removing and replacing the entire shoulder joint, your Mass General Brigham surgeon may recommend total shoulder arthroplasty. In this procedure, the shoulder joint is resurfaced in places where the cartilage has been worn away to reduce friction and pain and ease joint movement.

For individuals or athletes who require non-replacement shoulder surgeries, our skilled surgical and sports medicine teams are leaders in rotator cuff repair surgeries that reattach torn tendons to the humerus (upper arm bone). Rehabilitation time for rotator cuff surgery can be lengthy. Other patients may be candidates for arthroscopic shoulder surgery, a minimally invasive procedure that inserts minute cameras through tiny incisions in the skin to visualize the injury and target repair. Typically, these procedures allow for faster recovery and reduced postoperative pain.

The Value of Virtual Planning in Shoulder Replacement

Jon Warner, MD, discusses his research on the value of care delivery and how new virtual planning tools eliminate the need for trial and error in the OR, which allows surgeons to be faster and more precise.

Your Mass General Brigham shoulder surgery team

Meet Mass General Brigham's multidisciplinary team of shoulder clinicians with expertise in shoulder injuries that may require replacement surgeries.

Shoulder surgery for international patients

Each year, thousands of patients from more than 120 countries travel to Mass General Brigham for medical care, second opinions and treatments unavailable anywhere else in the world. 

Mass General Brigham orthopedic teams are experienced in caring for complex shoulder patients who are traveling great distances to our hospitals in Boston. Your medical team here and our international patient services team will help you prepare for and plan the appropriate amount of time to stay in Boston before and after your treatment or surgery. During this recovery time in Boston, our clinical team will monitor your healing and medications and prepare you for the rehabilitation stage of your care. Your Mass General Brigham care team will work with you and your providers at home to ensure you receive the properly scheduled follow-up appointments and a rehab physical therapy program that is right for you.

Many of our international patients have questions about everything from travel and lodging to scheduling appointments. Our international patient services team is here to help. We look forward to making your Mass General Brigham experience as healing and stress-free as possible.