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Shoulder Hemiarthroplasty

Shoulder Hemiarthroplasty is a partial shoulder replacement where only the humeral head is replaced. Your shoulder is a ball and socket joint where the head of your humerus (ball) fits into the glenoid on your scapula (socket). Surrounding the joint is a layer of articular cartilage which acts as a lubricant reducing friction of the bones when you move your arm. This surface can wear away and become damaged due to arthritic changes, overuse or trauma causing severe pain. When only the head of humerus is damaged, a shoulder hemiarthroplasty is performed. Here, the humeral head is removed and replaced with a metal prosthetic to restore the articulating surface back to normal. Other reasons shoulder arthroplasty’s are performed are severe fractures, failed previous shoulder arthroplasty, tumours and avascular necrosis (bone dies due to obstruction of blood supply).

Active stretches of the shoulder under supervision of a therapistAbove: Active stretches of the shoulder under supervision of a therapist

Physiotherapy before Shoulder Hemiarthroplasty Surgery

Physiotherapy prior to shoulder hemiarthroplasty is a useful and recommended intervention. Not only will it help to reduce your current symptoms it will provide a solid platform for post surgical rehabilitation speeding up your rehab period and allowing you to maximise your rehab potential. Treatments offered include:

  • Cryotherapy
  • Pain management
  • Protective taping and bracing

Acute management of symptoms
  • Strengthening surrounding musculature
  • Massage and stretching
  • Advice on surgery and post-surgical management

Symptoms following Shoulder Hemiarthroplasty Surgery

Following shoulder replacement, your shoulder will be placed in a protective sling for 4-6 weeks to help protect the new shoulder, aid recovery and maximise rehab potential. Common symptoms following shoulder replacement surgery include:
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Stiffness

Physiotherapy after Shoulder Hemiarthroplasty Surgery

Following shoulder replacement surgery a well planned physiotherapy programme designed with is critical for the success of the operation. will provide a thorough assessment and explanation of treatment as well as design a personal rehabilitation programme. Treatment will initially focus on acute management following surgery and progress on to regaining strength, range of movement and function.

Weeks 1-3

Initial treatment with will concentrate on minimising post operative complication, reducing acute symptoms, providing optimal condition for soft tissue healing and the initiation of movement. Treatment will include:
  • Cryotherapy
  • Pain Management
  • Sling use – advice and exercises while in sling
  • Elbow, wrist and hand range of movement and strengthening exercises to prevent stiffness and muscle atrophy (wasting away of the muscles)
  • Passive and active assisted range of movement
  • Isometric strengthening
  • Scapula stabilising
  • Postural awareness
  • Wound management

Weeks 4-6

Following week 4 your sling will be removed and you will be encouraged to commence increased active range of motion and strengthening exercises. will develop your programme with attention to personal requirements so that your surgery milestones are met. Treatment will include:
  • Increased passive range of movement to full range
  • Begin active range of movement
  • Scapular Stabilising
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Stretching
  • Strengthening
  • PNF techniques
  • Closed chain activities
  • Proprioceptive training
  • Scar management

Weeks 7-12

Following week 7 will focus on a continuation and progression of exercises. Rehabilitation will begin to include specific exercises needed to perform functional activities and be directed to attaining full range of movement, improving muscular strength and endurance. Treatment will consist of:
  • Full active range of movement
  • Stretching
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Shoulder and scapular strength through range
  • Closed and open chain activities
  • Muscular endurance
  • Breakdown of functional activities into manageable components
  • Increased Proprioceptive training

Weeks 12+

Following week 12, your movement and strength will be greatly improved and will be equal or close to pre-operative states. Full recovery can take up to 6 months and so will provide a comprehensive long term rehabilitation programme for you to follow with a clear focus on maximising functional use of your arm to return to social and occupational activities. Treatment will include:
  • Attainment of full range of movement
  • Advanced strengthening throughout range
  • Advanced Proprioceptive exercises
  • Functional training
  • Long term management


Shoulder hemiarthroplasty is a surgical procedure to replace the head of the humerus when it has been irreversibly damaged. It is usually performed on severe arthritic damaged joins where the shoulder is had severely damaged, limiting movement and produces a large amount of pain. Following surgery it is essential to undergo a rehabilitative programme with will provide a thorough and comprehensive physiotherapy programme to help restore strength, movement and function to your arm. Call now on 0330 088 7800 for more information or to book an appointment please contact us.

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