Cartilage is the protective lining within the joint. Joint arthritis occurs when the cartilage begins to wear away. Symptoms of arthritis includes: persistent pain, inflammation and swelling. Patients suffering from advanced arthritis and have tried conservative treatments such as medication, physical therapy and in some cases, arthroscopic surgery—without relief—may be candidates for joint replacement surgery. 

Also called shoulder or elbow arthroplasty, joint replacement surgery may be an option for you if your shoulder or elbow pain interferes with daily activities and more-conservative treatments haven't helped. Osteoarthritis, post-traumatic and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common reasons to need joint replacement.

During shoulder or elbow replacement, the surgeon removes the damaged sections of your joint and replaces them with parts usually constructed of metal and very hard plastic. This artificial joint (prosthesis) helps reduce pain and improve function. The most common types of arthroplasties in the upper extremity are: