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Osteoarthritis Health Center

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Surgery for Osteoarthritis Joint Pain

Resection Arthroplasty

What happens: The surgeon removes all or part of a joint to eliminate damaged surfaces moving against each other. It's rarely done on a weight-bearing joint such as the knee or hip because you need the joint to walk. But it may be done on a "hanging joint" such as the shoulder.

If you get shoulder arthroplasty, your surgery could take place two possible ways. For open surgery, the surgeon typically makes a bone-cut through a 2-inch cut. If the surgeon used an arthroscope instead, the cut would be much smaller.

By removing the last half-inch of the collarbone (clavicle), the surgeon creates a space between it and the shoulder blade (scapula). Over time, scar tissue grows into this space and stops bones from being able to rub together, though the shoulder joint can still be moved.


  • Less shoulder pain and tenderness
  • Easier to move your shoulder


  • Possible damage to nerves and blood vessels in the surgical area
  • Infection

Recovery: It's normal to have some pain, tenderness, and stiffness. You may need to wear a shoulder-support sling for a few days and ice the shoulder down. You'll probably need physical therapy -- first to control pain and swelling in the area and later to ensure that the joint moves smoothly.

As You Recover: General Tips for Any Arthritis Surgery

Once you’re home, continue to follow your doctor’s instructions about eating, medication, exercise, and physical therapy. Keep in mind that recovery from any surgery will take time.

Be sure to ask your doctors about problems or questions you have. It’s important to let them know, so they can help you recover ASAP and without complications.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on August 14, 2015
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