a man with his hand on his shoulder

Partial Shoulder Replacement

Partial Shoulder Replacement Surgery

A partial shoulder replacement involves replacing the damaged humeral head (the top of the upper arm bone), but not the socket portion of the shoulder blade. Generally recommended when the humeral head is arthritic or fractured, partial shoulder replacement performed at our Austin, TX, practice allows Dr. Edward Seade to take a more conservative approach to repair the shoulder than a full shoulder replacement. During a consultation, he can determine if shoulder replacement is right for you.

a man with his hand on his shoulder

Candidates for Partial Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Candidates for partial shoulder replacement experience severe pain when attempting to accomplish normal activities like getting dressed or reaching up to grab something from a cabinet. Candidates also experience a loss of motion in their shoulder. These painful symptoms can be due to injury, arthritis, or other conditions.

Most importantly, partial shoulder replacement candidates find that their pain level does not improve with the use of conservative treatments such as cortisone injections or physical therapy. Patients should be in good overall health, with no active infections.

In some instances, the doctor may have to wait until he has made incisions and exposed the shoulder joint to determine which procedure is necessary.

For patients with persistent shoulder pain, Dr. Seade will take x-rays to determine the condition of the joint. In some cases, he may need to take a computerized tomography (CT) scan or MRI to take a closer look at the patient's shoulder. Dr. Seade may try using a steroid injection to manage the pain, but if this proves ineffective, surgery may be the next best option for providing relief.

a doctor examining a patient

Schedule an Appointment Today

If you are suffering with shoulder pain, contact our office today and schedule an appointment with Dr. Seade.

The Procedure

The partial shoulder replacement procedure is very similar to a full shoulder replacement. In some instances, the doctor may have to wait until he has made incisions and exposed the shoulder joint to determine which procedure is necessary. If the humeral head has severe fractures, or is arthritic, but the glenoid socket remains healthy, he will likely recommend partial replacement.

The procedure involves creating an incision along the shoulder and upper arm, allowing the doctor to separate the deltoid and pectoral muscles. After incising the anterior rotator cuff muscle, he will have access to the damaged part of the shoulder. Dr. Seade will remove the damaged portion of the humeral head, replacing it with a metal ball attached to a stem that extends into the humerus. Finally, he will suture the incisions closed and send the patient to recovery.


The patient needs to keep the arm immobilized in a sling, except when showering or participating in rehabilitation exercises. Within six weeks, most patients regain light use of their arm and shoulder, with full use returning in as little as eight weeks. Patients can return to desk work in two or three weeks, but may need to wait four months or longer before resuming more physically demanding duties.

While the condition of the muscles and tendons plays a significant role in recovery, most patients find that by three months after surgery, they are fairly comfortable. They may experience some weakness, and will have about half of their normal range of motion restored. By six months, they typically experience about two-thirds of their original motion and strength, and remain mostly pain-free. A year after surgery, most patients find they have full strength and no pain.