Low health literacy is both pervasive in the United States and a substantial barrier to satisfactory patient care and the appropriate utilization of healthcare resources. This prospective study aims to evaluate the factors that contribute to limited musculoskeletal literacy in patients who undergo shoulder arthroplasty. Ninety patients undergoing shoulder replacement surgery completed demographics and Literacy in Musculoskeletal Problems (LiMP) surveys. Scores of less than six were considered indicative of limited musculoskeletal literacy. The overall percentage of participants with limited musculoskeletal literacy was 38.8%. Multivariable logistic regression analysis with multiple imputation modeling demonstrated a significant positive relationship between patient income and adequate LiMP scores (p = 0.009) with an odds ratio of 1.15 (CI: 1.04; 1.28) while level of education (p = 0.173) and patient ethnicity (p = 0.830) among other patient characteristics did not have a significant relationship with LiMP scores. In patients undergoing shoulder replacement surgery, low income was the only variable found to be predictive of limited musculoskeletal health literacy scores. Therefore, when discussing the risks and benefits of shoulder arthroplasty, orthopaedic surgeons should be cognizant of the possibility that any given patient may not meet the threshold of adequate musculoskeletal literacy. © 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.