Reverse Shoulder Replacement

What is it, and how is it performed?

If you are experiencing shoulder arthritis with irreparable rotator cuff tendons or rotator cuff arthropathy, you may be a good candidate for reverse shoulder replacement.

If you are considering a reverse shoulder replacement, schedule an appointment at OrthoNeuro with one of our board-certified shoulder specialists. We have many convenient locations throughout Greater Columbus for you to choose from. Our doctors can evaluate your situation to determine which type of treatment is best for you.

What Is Reverse Shoulder Replacement Surgery?

A traditional shoulder replacement device works in a similar way to a normal shoulder. A plastic cup replaces the shoulder socket on the shoulder blade, and a metal ball is attached to the top of the upper arm bone to replace the humeral head.

The two components are switched in a reverse total shoulder replacement. The plastic cup is fixed to the upper end of your arm bone, and the metal ball is attached to the shoulder blade. A reverse total shoulder replacement is a good option if you have rotator cuff tear arthropathy because you will use different muscles to move your arm.

During normal shoulder function, your rotator cuff muscles stabilize and power your arm through your shoulder’s normal range of motion. A traditional replacement device will also use the rotator cuff muscles to function properly.

However, if you have a large rotator cuff tear and/or rotator cuff tear arthropathy, these muscles will no longer function. A reverse total shoulder replacement will use your deltoid muscle, instead of the rotator cuff, to move and stabilize your arm during movement.

Rotator cuff arthropathy is a medical condition where the muscles around the shoulder (also known as rotator cuff muscles) are so weak and degenerated that the shoulder is no longer stable enough to be held intact or function properly with arthritis.

Who Is Reverse Shoulder Replacement For?

You may be a good candidate for a reverse total shoulder replacement if you have the following conditions:

  • Rotator cuff tear arthropathy
  • A completely torn rotator cuff that cannot be repaired
  • A previous unsuccessful shoulder replacement
  • Severe shoulder pain, together with difficulty lifting your arm away from your side or over your head
  • A complex fracture of the shoulder joint
  • A chronic shoulder dislocation
  • A tumor of the shoulder joint

You may also be recommended for surgery if non-surgical treatments, such as rest, medications, cortisone injections, and/or physical therapy, have not relieved your shoulder pain.

How Is the Procedure Performed?

First, an incision is made across the side of the shoulder, going from above the collarbone to the middle of the upper arm bone. This incision exposes the irregular joint surface. The head of the humerus, or upper arm bone, is then cut.

Next, the humerus is prepared to be replaced with a long metal piece made to imitate the original humeral head. At this point, depending on the level of damage to the scapula or shoulder bone, the surgeon will smooth out the bone and cap it with a plastic or metal piece.

The prosthesis is then set into place securely by using several screws and sometimes even cement. After the new joint is in place, your surgeon will close the muscles and skin with stitches or staples.

The Risks Associated with Reverse Shoulder Replacement

As with all surgical procedures, there are some risks involved with a reverse shoulder replacement. The risks of shoulder surgery may include the following:

  • Excess blood loss
  • Infection
  • Nerve damage leading to impaired arm movement
  • Shoulder fractures
  • Dislocation of the artificial joint
  • Complications from anesthesia

You may be at a higher risk if you are having repeat surgery. The risks will also depend on your shoulder anatomy and any other problems related to your general health.

Recovery After a Reverse Shoulder Replacement

After your reverse shoulder replacement surgery, you will be given a course of antibiotics to fight against any possible infection. You will also be given pain medications for short-term pain relief.

You may also be given some exercises by one of our physical therapists. Physical therapy can help strengthen your shoulder joint and improve your range of motion. Most patients are able to eat, dress, and groom themselves within a few days after surgery.

By the time your rehabilitation has finished, you will likely be able to lift your arm a little over shoulder height. The treatment provides outstanding pain relief, and many patients are very satisfied with the outcome.

Make an Appointment with an OrthoNeuro Shoulder Specialist Today!

If you are considering a reverse shoulder replacement, schedule an appointment today at OrthoNeuro. One of our board-certified shoulder specialists will review your shoulder pain symptoms and then create a treatment plan to help you achieve any goals you want to reach.

We have many convenient locations throughout Columbus, OH. Contact us today to address your pain relief so you can return to doing what you love!

Medically reviewed by B. Rodney Comisar, MD, FAAOS

Shoulder Specialists

“8 weeks after bad rotator cuff surgery and I am doing well thank you for the great service“