About Shoulder & Elbow

University of Utah Health's orthopedics shoulder and elbow service provides excellent and quality care for problems affecting the shoulder and elbow, including athletic, traumatic, degenerative, and specific diagnoses, such as the following:

  • Arthritis
  • Arthroscopic (minimally-invasive) shoulder procedures
  • Dislocation or instability
  • Elbow ligament reconstruction
  • Fractures
  • Joint stiffness or pain
  • Rotator cuff disease
  • Tendon tears
  • Tennis elbow
  • Total elbow or shoulder replacement

The shoulder and elbow team creates and utilizes the latest advances in shoulder and elbow diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation.

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Anatomy of the Shoulder

The shoulder is made up of several layers, including the following:

  • Bones. The collarbone (clavicle), the shoulder blade (scapula), and the upper arm bone (humerus).

  • Joints. The place where movement occurs, including the following:

    • Sternoclavicular joint (where the clavicle meets the sternum)

    • Acromioclavicular (AC) joint (where the clavicle meets the acromion)

    • Shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint). A ball-and-socket joint that facilitates forward, circular, and backward movement of the shoulder.

  • Ligaments. A white, shiny, flexible band of fibrous tissue that holds joints together and connects various bones, including the following:

    • Joint capsule. A group of ligaments that connect the humerus to the socket of the shoulder joint on the scapula to stabilize the shoulder and keep it from dislocating.

    • Ligaments that attach the clavicle to the acromion

    • Ligaments that connect the clavicle to the scapula by attaching to the coracoid process

  • Acromion. The roof (highest point) of the shoulder that is formed by a part of the scapula.

  • Tendons. The tough cords of tissue that connect muscles to bones. The rotator cuff tendons are a group of tendons that connect the deepest layer of muscles to the humerus.

  • Muscles. Help support and rotate the shoulder in many directions. Facilitate movement of the shoulder. 

  • Rotator cuff. Name of a group of muscles and tendons that rotate the shoulder.

  • Bursa. A closed space between 2 moving surfaces that has a small amount of lubricating fluid inside; located between the rotator cuff muscle layer and the outer layer of large, bulky muscles.

Anatomy of the Elbow

The elbow is a hinge joint between the lower end of the humerus bone in the upper arm and the upper end of the radius and ulnar bones in the lower arm. The arm is bent and rotated at the elbow by the biceps muscles in the upper arm. Ligaments located at the front, back, and sides of the elbow help stabilize the joint.

Total Shoulder Arthroplasty

What is total shoulder arthroplasty?

The basic procedure of total shoulder arthroplasty removes the ball of the shoulder and places a metal stem that goes into the arm bone, or humerus, and then adds a metal ball. On the socket side, a plastic piece is cemented into the socket to return this to a smooth surface.

The procedure takes about two hours. Afterward, you are encouraged to move the joint since a major goal of shoulder arthroplasty is to return as much range of motion as possible. The standard time in the hospital is one to two nights.

How does the anesthesia work?

One of the truly unique features of shoulder arthroplasty at the University of Utah Health Orthopaedic Center is the use of a small catheter that is placed near the nerves in the neck (anesthesia). Because we have a unique system for placing these, it is done with minimal discomfort for the patient and a high level of accuracy. These are connected to anesthesia that runs into the area slowly over a couple of days.

Because of this it is very common for arthroplasty patients to have minimal to no pain over their first couple of days after surgery. This allows patients to start well after surgery since they are not sick from other medications, can eat well, and be very mobile overall.

What are the possible complications?

The complications that can occur with this procedure are similar to other surgeries of this magnitude. They include the following: infection, blood loss, nerve injury, loosening of the replacement parts, dislocation and fractures around the implants among others; however, the specialists at the orthopaedic center give you preoperative antibiotics to counter infection, rarely need to give blood transfusions and find that while nerve injury can occur, it is usually temporary (although, a permanent neurologic injury is possible but rare). Also, the components that are placed in the joint can be revised or removed.

What about therapy and return to my normal activities?

After arthroplasty we try to start physical therapy early and emphasize range of motion. We feel that the patient and his or her family needs to be primarily involved with this and don't rely exclusively on formal physical therapy. However formal physical therapy can be very useful. Depending on where the patient lives we try to make this as convenient as possible and give the patients instruction sheets on how to obtain motion and use of their shoulder.

The tendons are usually healed by six weeks and normal daily use of the shoulder is possible by this point. We anticipate a full recovery by six months, which allows return to almost all normal activity.

What are the limitations of my new joint?

Because this is an artificial joint, we discourage heavy lifting-type work with the shoulder. Significant overhead work may be difficult. However, you should be able to perform routine daily activities, like golf, swimming, bicycling. Currently, approximately 85 percent of the shoulder joints replaced are still functioning well at 10 years.

Robert T. Burks, M.D.

Patient Rating:


4.6 out of 5

Dr. Robert Burks, Professor, specializing in the field of sports medicine and shoulder surgery. His practice focuses on injuries to and degenerative conditions of the shoulder and knee. Dr. Burks graduated from St. Louis University School of Medicine in 1978. He completed his orthopedic residency at the University of California at San Diego and sub... Read More

Peter N. Chalmers, M.D.

Dr. Chalmers is a member of the faculty at the University of Utah within the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. He focuses on the care of all shoulder and elbow problems, from young athletes to shoulder arthritis. His practice includes minimally invasive arthroscopy, ligament and tendon repair, joint replacement, reconstruction surgery, fracture ca... Read More


Labral Tear, Shoulder, Upper Extremity


Farmington Health Center (801) 213-3200
South Jordan Health Center (801) 213-4500
University Orthopaedic Center (801) 587-7109

Don Coleman, M.D.

Patient Rating:


4.4 out of 5

Dr. Donald Coleman, Associate Professor, trained at the University of Utah, completed his residency at the University of Iowa, a fellowship at the University of Edinburgh Arthritis Unit in Scotland, and a fellowship in hand and microvascular surgery at Duke University. His active clinical practice is exclusively restricted to upper extremity and mi... Read More

Patrick E. Greis, M.D.

Patient Rating:


4.6 out of 5

Dr. Patrick Greis, Board Certified Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, joined the Department of Orthopaedics in March of 1997 and specializes in sports medicine, knee and shoulder surgery. His interests include all aspects of knee and shoulder surgery, including arthroscopic surgery, ACL reconstruction, shoulder instability, rotator cuff issues, arth... Read More

Douglas T. Hutchinson, M.D.

Patient Rating:


4.6 out of 5

Dr. Doug Hutchinson, Associate Professor In Department of Orthopaedics, specializes in hand and microvascular surgery. Dr. Hutchinson currently serves as the hand fellowship director at the University of Utah and chief of Hand Surgery at Primary Children’s Medical Center, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Shriners Intermountain Hospital. He... Read More


Congenital Hand, Hand Surgery, Orthopaedic Surgery, Orthopaedic, Hand Upper Extremity & Microvascular Surgery, Pediatric Hand


Primary Children's Hospital (801) 662-5600
University Orthopaedic Center (801) 587-7109

Nikolas H. Kazmers, M.D., M.S.E.

Nikolas H. Kazmers, M.D. M.S.E. is a Clinical Instructor of Orthopedic Hand Surgery at the University of Utah Hospital and Clinics who exclusively specializes in hand and upper extremity (elbow / forearm / wrist) problems, and microvascular surgery. He treats upper extremity disorders such as fractures, dislocations, lacerations to nerves and tendo... Read More

David J. Petron, M.D.

Patient Rating:


4.6 out of 5

Dr. David Petron, Assistant Professor (clinical) is a primary care orthopaedic/sports medicine specialist. He originally trained in family practice and then completed a fellowship in primary care orthopaedics and sports medicine at Michigan State University. Dr. Petron is the Director of Primary Care Sports Medicine and the team physician for the U... Read More

Amy P. Powell, M.D.

Patient Rating:


4.8 out of 5

Dr. Amy Powell, Assistant Professor, (clinical) is a board certified Sports Medicine physician serving as a team physician for the University of Utah Utes. She specializes in the care of athletes and active people of all ages, focusing on attaining and maintaining a patient’s physical performance goals. Dr. Powell received her medical degree from t... Read More


Foot and Ankle, Shoulder, Sports Medicine


University Orthopaedic Center (801) 587-7109

Robert Z. Tashjian, B.A., M.D.

Patient Rating:


4.7 out of 5

Dr. Robert Tashjian is an Associate Professor of Orthopaedics at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, UT specializing in shoulder and elbow surgery. Dr. Tashjian received his medical doctorate from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, MA. He completed an orthopaedic residency at Brown Medical School in Providence, ... Read More


Orthopaedic Surgery, Shoulder


Northern Utah Clinic-The Lodge (435) 723-0540
University Orthopaedic Center (801) 587-7109

Bob Toth, PA-C, M.P.A.S., M.S., A.T.C.

Bob Toth is both a nationally certified Physician Assistant and a certified Athletic Trainer who joined the Department of Orthopaedics in January 2010. He earned his Master's of Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Utah. Prior to becoming a Physician Assistant he was an Athletic Trainer for 14 years at the University of Utah, Adrian C... Read More

Andrew Tyser, M.D.

Patient Rating:


4.8 out of 5

Andrew R. Tyser M.D. is an Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Utah Hospital and Clinics who exclusively specializes in hand, upper extremity (elbow / forearm), and microvascular surgery. He treats upper extremity disorders such as fractures, dislocations, lacerations to nerves and tendons, and all other injuries of the h... Read More

Angela A. Wang, M.D.

Patient Rating:


4.3 out of 5

Dr. Angela Wang, Associate Professor, specializes in hand, upper extremity, and microvascular surgery in children and adults. Dr. Wang currently practices at the Orthopaedic Center, as well as the Primary Children's Center, and the Shriners Hospital. Her particular interests include both obstetric/birth and adult traumatic brachial plexus surgery,... Read More

University Orthopaedic Center 590 Wakara Way
Salt Lake City, UT 84108
South Jordan Health Center 5126 W. Daybreak Parkway
South Jordan, UT 84009
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