What is a Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement?

While a conventional shoulder replacement works for most patients, there are some cases that require a reverse shoulder replacement. Some common causes for a reverse shoulder replacement include:

  • Large or complete rotator cuff tears
  • Previously unsuccessful shoulder replacement
  • Severe shoulder pain that prevents raising the arm away from the side
  • Previously unsuccessful alternative options, like surgery or cortisone injections

What makes a reverse replacement different from a conventional replacement?

A normal total shoulder replacement implant mimics the natural shoulder joint, with the ball of the joint attached to the upper arm. The shoulder blade and rotator cuff form a “cup” where the ball fits and has space to rotate.

3d rendered illustration of a shoulder replacement

A reverse shoulder replacement, as the name implies, reverses the position of the ball and socket. The ball is now attached to the shoulder blade (or scapula) and the socket or “cup” is attached to the upper arm. This provides more mobility and muscle function in the affected shoulder.


What to expect before, during and after surgery

Your surgeon will evaluate your health and determine if you are a proper candidate for a reverse shoulder replacement. Be inform your medical team of any medications (including over the counter) you are currently taking, or of any chronic medical conditions before the surgery.

Before the procedure, you’ll discuss anesthesia options with your team, and decide which option is best. During the surgery, an incision is made at the front or on the top of your shoulder. Your surgeon will remove the damaged part of the bone and replace it with the implant components for the shoulder.

After surgery, range of motion exercises will be important to regaining your mobility and shoulder strength. Don’t overdo it though. Make sure to follow the doctor’s instructions to let your shoulder properly heal.

In your home, make sure things are placed in lower cabinets or below shoulder height. For the first few weeks post-surgery, you may require help with daily tasks like cooking, cleaning or bathing.

After your post-surgery rehabilitation is complete, your range of motion should be greatly increased and pain should be relieved.

To learn more about shoulder replacement options, visit http://www.neorthohospital.com/our-services/shoulder.


What is a Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement?

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