Shoulder replacement is much less common than total joint replacements of the hip and knee. The shoulder joint is not typically used as a weight-bearing joint, so it wears out much less commonly. Injuries and damage the nice smooth articular surface leading to secondary osteoarthritis. Chronic rotator cuff tears can also lead to changes in the shoulder joint that lead to osteoarthritis.
There are a few options. Total shoulder replacement (TSR) resolves pain and has better function for shoulder osteoarthritis. The rotator cuff has to be intact. The patient also has to be willing to take care of the new artificial joint. The TSR is not meant to use as a weight bearing joint. Many sports activities are not a good idea with a total shoulder. A shoulder hemiarthroplasty could potentially keep a patient more aggressive in their activity level, but is not as consistent in its pain relief. Reverse shoulder arthroplasty is specifically designed for those patients without a functional rotator cuff and have developed secondary shoulder osteoarthritis.