When I had my knee replaced many of my friends had already had this same operation. They gave me lots of advice and information. Now I'm getting ready for a shoulder replacement. I can't find even one friend or relative who's had this surgery. Are folks who have this done happy with the results?

It's true that the number of hip and knee replacements far out pace the number of shoulder replacements. The number of shoulder replacements is increasing every year. Last year more than 10,000 were done in the United States.

Long-term studies 20 years down the road aren't available yet. But short- to mid-term results are in. Most patients have a good result with decreased pain and improved movement. These two results also mean better function and higher quality of life for most people.

As with any surgery, problems can occur. In a small number of patients blood clots, infection, or fracture can cause death or delay recovery. The risk of technical difficulties is greater with shoulder replacement surgery compared to hip and knee.

Overall, patients report improved quality-of-life with a shoulder replacement. If they had to do it over again, they would have the same operation.