Anatomic Shoulder Replacement

Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow

While we strive to only recommend surgery after we have tried other simpler options at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow, sometimes a shoulder replacement is recommended. In some cases, it is the right procedure to provide the pain relief you desire if conservative techniques are not successful. Schedule an appointment at either our Marietta or Atlanta, Georgia offices to see if this could be the right treatment option for you.

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What Is an Anatomic Shoulder Replacement?

An anatomic shoulder replacement is a surgical procedure used to relieve the source of your shoulder pain and increase your mobility by replacing the damaged parts of your shoulder (the arthritic joint) with prostheses (artificial components).

You may wonder, “What part of my shoulder is going to be replaced?” Knowing a little about the anatomy of your shoulder joint can help you get a clearer picture.

Your shoulder is a ball and socket joint. The ball is the upper part of your upper arm bone and is called the humeral head. The humeral head rests in the shallow socket (glenoid) of the shoulder blade and is held in the socket by muscles, ligaments, the labrum, and by the rotator cuff tendons.

There are 3 main types of shoulder replacements:

  1. Partial shoulder replacement (Hemiarthroplasty) — Only the head (ball) of the joint is replaced.
  2. Anatomic total shoulder replacement (shoulder arthroplasty) —Both the ball as well as the socket is replaced.
  3. Reverse total shoulder replacement (reverse shoulder arthroplasty) — The ball and the socket are replaced, but the implants are reversed.

The standard or typical shoulder replacement, also known as anatomic total shoulder arthroplasty, involves replacing the arthritic joint with a highly polished metal ball attached to a stem and a medical-grade plastic socket.

How Does an Anatomic Total Shoulder Arthroplasty Differ From a Reverse Total Shoulder Arthroplasty?

An anatomic total shoulder arthroplasty differs from a reverse shoulder replacement when it comes to the placement of the artificial components.

In an anatomic total shoulder arthroplasty, the implants resemble the natural shape of your bones. However, in reverse total shoulder arthroplasty, the implants are reversed. The ball is placed on the socket side of the joint, and the socket is placed on the arm side, where it is supported by a metal stem in the upper arm bone.

Reverse total shoulder replacements are also sometimes used to treat proximal humerus fractures. An anatomic total shoulder arthroplasty requires that your rotator cuff is intact. However, when it comes to reverse total shoulder replacement, your rotator cuff does not need to be intact. This option is typically preferred if your rotator cuff is severely damaged.

When Would Shoulder Replacement Surgery Be Necessary?

A shoulder replacement may be necessary if you have severe pain and limited function due to osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis that persists despite the following conservative treatments:

Preparation For a Shoulder Replacement

To see if a shoulder replacement is the right option for you, your doctor will perform a complete evaluation. This will include:

  • Reviewing your medical history, symptoms, and any medications that you may be taking
  • Performing a physical exam
  • Possible diagnostic imaging, including X-rays, CT scans, or an MRI

Anatomic Shoulder Surgery

During your procedure, you can expect the following:

  • You will be given anesthesia
  • A surgical incision is made in the affected shoulder to expose the shoulder joint
  • The arthritic or damaged portions of your shoulder will be removed
  • Depending on your procedure, your doctor will then replace just the ball and stem or the complete shoulder joint
  • Once the artificial components are implanted and secured in place, your surgeon will close the incision site 


The length of recovery varies from person to person and will depend on the type of procedure that you had. After your surgery, your arm may be secured in a sling, and you will be prescribed pain medication to help manage your pain and prevent infection. Soon after surgery, your doctor may suggest that you begin physical therapy to aid in your recovery.

The Risks

As is the case with all surgeries, there are some risks. The risks and complications associated with a shoulder replacement include:

Schedule a consultation with our specialists at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow in
Atlanta and Marietta, Georgia today! We look forward to giving you the help you need.

Medically reviewed by

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Plastic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon