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Understanding the risks

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks and complications. Your surgeon will discuss each potential complication of shoulder replacement surgery in detail.


Although uncommon, infections are one of the most severe complications. This can occur around the time of surgery or later in your recovery. The treatment is complex, but the incidence is quite low.

Nerve Injury

Nerve injuries to the shoulder, arm, and hand are uncommon. This injury is usually temporary but can be permanent.

Blood Clots

Blood clots are also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). The formation of a blood clot is uncommon. Some patients are instructed to take medications (such as aspirin or a blood thinner) around the time of their surgery to decrease this risk. Your surgeon will let you know if this is necessary.

Stiffness and weakness

Stiffness can be a problem after your rotator cuff repair surgery. This can be minimized by fully participating in therapy after surgery.


Dislocation is when the bone joint comes out of the socket. Typically this does not require an incision or an extensive surgical procedure to correct.  However, if a dislocation occurs multiple times, additional surgery may be required. The risk of dislocation can be minimized by wearing your sling as directed and following therapy exercises as instructed. 

Prosthesis wearing or loosening

Over time your shoulder prosthesis can wear down or the components may loosen. This is rare but can be caused by infection, poor bone quality, or wear over time.  Excessive wear or loosening may require additional surgery. 

Discuss with your doctor if surgery is right for you.