Shoulder Joint Replacement Melbourne

A Patient’s Guide:

 Dr Christopher Pullen – BSc(Hons), MBBS, MPH, FRACS, FAorthoA.
Orthopaedic Surgeon

“I may recommend shoulder joint replacement surgery if you have a painful condition that does not respond to nonsurgical treatment including rest, physical therapy, medications and injections. Prior to recommending surgery, I will undertake a thorough clinical examination, discuss your diagnosis and detail the treatment options available to you.”


What are the bones the make up your shoulder?

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint.

The ball, or head, of your upper arm bone (humerus) fits into a shallow socket in your shoulder blade.

The socket is called the glenoid joint.

Your shoulder is made up of three bones:

1) Upper arm bone (humerus)
2) Shoulder blade (scapula)
3) Collarbone (clavicle).

Shoulder Anatomy

Ankle Anatomy Image


The shoulder joint allows for a wide range of movement but this makes it vulnerable to injury. The most common shoulder injuries include:

Frozen shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis) – Inflammation develops in the shoulder that causes pain and stiffness  that limits movement.

Shoulder instability
– When muscles and ligaments that hold the shoulder together are stretched beyond their normal limits.

 – “Wear-and-tear” of the bearing joint surfaces that often occurs with ageing or after injury.

Rotator cuff tear
– A tear in one of the muscles or tendons surrounding the top of the humerus.

Shoulder impingement
– The acromion (edge of the scapula) presses on the rotator cuff as the arm is lifted.

Shoulder dislocation
 – When the humerus slips out of the socket.

Shoulder tendonitis –
Inflammation of one of the tendons of the rotator cuff.


During shoulder replacement surgery, the damaged parts of the shoulder joint are removed and replaced with artificial (plastic and metal) components, called a prosthesis.

The most common treatment options are either replacement of just the head of the humerus bone (ball), or replacement of both the ball and the socket (glenoid).

Having a shoulder joint replacement is a major surgery that will most likely keep you in the hospital for two or more days.

You will need at least 4-6 months of physical therapy afterward to regain strength and movement.

Shoulder Joint Replacement Surgery Melbourne

There are three types of shoulder replacement surgeries:

1. Total shoulder replacement – This is the most common type. It replaces the ball at the top of your humerus with a metal ball, which gets attached to the remaining bone. The socket gets covered with a new plastic surface.

2. Partial shoulder replacement – Only the head or ball of the humerus is replaced during surgery.

3. Reverse shoulder replacement – Commonly used if you have a torn rotator cuff or undertaken when a previous shoulder replacement surgery was damaged or unsuccessful. In a reverse shoulder replacement, the socket and metal ball are switched. The metal ball is fixed to the socket, and the plastic cup is fixed to the upper end of the humerus.


What happens after surgery?

At the completion of the surgery you will wake up in the recovery room and then be transferred back to your hospital room. It’s normal for the shoulder to swell after the surgery.

Pain management – Pain medication will be provided to keep you comfortable throughout your hospital stay.

Ice packs –  Placing ice-packs on the shoulder will help to reduce swelling and may be applied to the area for 20 minutes 3 to 4 times a day until swelling has reduced.

Site of operation/wound protection – A dressing will be around the operated shoulder and the arm will be in a sling or brace. The sling will be in place for 6 weeks.

The first 6 weeks – You will not be allowed to reach or lift anything greater than 1 kg or perform any resistance exercises for the first 6 weeks.

Driving – Patients are advised not to drive during the first 6 weeks due to safety reasons and the risk of injury to the surgical site.

Dr Pullen will discuss with you the next steps prior to your discharge and explain the findings of the operation and what was done during surgery. Patients will be given specific instructions regarding activity and a rehabilitation program of exercise and strengthening.

A follow up appointment will be made 10-14 days after surgery and Dr Pullen will discuss and monitor your progress and inspect the surgery site.


The recovery period varies from patient to patient and depends on the nature and complexity of the surgery and commitment to rehabilitation. A typical recovery timeline for a shoulder replacement may include:

Timeline – After surgery Description
0 to 3 days You’ll be given a course of antibiotics and pain relief medicine immediately after your surgery. Your hospital stay will generally be 2-3 days. Your shoulder will be bandaged to help protect it and help the surgical wound to heal.
3 days to 2 weeks Dr Pullen and/or a physical therapist will discuss with you some gentle rehabilitation exercises.
2 to 4 weeks Your arm will still be in a sling and you may start doing light basic tasks but you shouldn’t lifting anything heavier than a few kilos.
4 to 6 weeks You should continue performing recommended exercises two to three times daily. Avoid moving your arm into extreme positions (such as behind your body)
6 weeks to 3 months You should find that your pain is decreasing and that your range of motion is slowly improving with your rehabilitation exercises.
3 to 6 months Pain should be minimal and your shoulder range of motion and strength improving. Plan to be able to resume all normal, daily activities and even return to a moderate workout routine. Contact sports should still be avoided.

Please contact my office or your general practitioner if after surgery you have:

  • Severe pain that is not helped by the pain medication you have been given
  • Redness or swelling around the wounds
  • Fever, sweats or chills.


The surgery complications which may occur after a shoulder joint replacement include:

  • Shoulder pain
  • Shoulder swelling
  • Shoulder stiffness and restricted movement
  • Infection
  • Numbness or tingling around the shoulder.

Dr Pullen will discuss with you in detail the potential complications and risks in relation to the surgery.

Mr Troy Keith
Dr Christopher Pullen
BSc(Hons), MBBS, MPH, FRACS, FAorthoA.
Orthopaedic Surgeon

If you have any questions please contact my team:

 Shoulder Joint Replacement Melbourne:
Dr Christopher Pullen – Orthopaedic Surgeon

If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment, please feel free to contact my team:

Shoulder Joint Replacement Surgery Melbourne

Dr Pullen treats patients from all over Australia in relation to shoulder injuries. He consults with patients at the following practice locations in Victoria, Melbourne including St Vincent’s Private East Melbourne and Ringwood Private Hospital, Ringwood East.