If a shoulder is injured or arthritis interferes with function and causes pain that can't be controlled with medication, surgery may be an option – or a necessity. Here are some of the most commonly performed shoulder surgeries.

  • Fracture repair. While many fractures can be healed by immobilizing the shoulder with tape or a sling, other fractures require surgery to position the bone and, in some cases, hardware is used to hold the pieces of bone in place while they heal. The procedure will depend on which bone(s) has been fractured and how badly.

  • Shoulder replacement. For arthritis of the shoulder that is not helped by nonoperative treatments, shoulder replacement surgery may be needed to relieve pain and restore mobility. Pain relief is the main reason for having a shoulder replacement.

There are different types of shoulder replacement. Conventional shoulder replacement surgery involves replacing the damaged ball-and-socket joint with a plastic socket and a metal ball attached to a stem inserted in the upper arm bone, or humerus. In some cases, the surgeon replaces just the ball and leaves the natural socket.

Another type of shoulder replacement, called reverse shoulder replacement, is a better option for people who have torn rotator cuffs or have had a previous should replacement that failed. This procedure is similar to conventional shoulder replacement surgery, and also involves replacing the ball and socket. However, unlike the conventional procedure, the ball is attached to the shoulder bone and the socket is attached to the upper arm bone, or humerus, in reverse shoulder replacement. This makes it possible for the deltoid muscle, instead to the torn rotator cuff, to life the arm.

Learn more about shoulder replacement surgery from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Learn more about shoulder replacement surgery and its costs from the Arthritis Foundation.

  • Arthroscopy. Arthroscopy is a procedure that uses a lighted scope and small surgical instruments to diagnose and repair joint problems through several small incisions instead of opening the entire joint.

The shoulder is one of the most frequently examined joints using arthroscopy. Surgeons can use arthroscopy to diagnose or evaluate rotator cuff tendon tears, impingement syndrome and recurrent dislocations.

Surgeons may also use arthroscopic surgery to repair rotator cuff injuries, remove inflamed synovium tissue in the shoulder or remove loose bone or cartilage.

Learn more about Arthroscopic surgery from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.