Reverse Shoulder Replacement Arthroplasty

Every year, Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital surgeons perform many conventional total shoulder replacements for patients with shoulder arthritis. This type of surgery, however, is not as effective for patients with large rotator cuff tears who have developed a complex type of shoulder arthritis called “rotator cuff tear arthropathy.”

For these patients, reverse shoulder arthroplasty may be an option. It works well for people with cuff tear arthropathy because it relies on the deltoid muscles, rather than the non-functional rotator cuff, to move the arm. With a reverse shoulder replacement from our orthopedic surgeons, you can significantly reduce pain and improve mobility.

Who is a Candidate?

Reverse total shoulder arthroplasty may be recommended if you have:

  • A completely torn rotator cuff that cannot be repaired
  • Cuff tear arthropathy
  • Had a previous shoulder replacement that was unsuccessful
  • Severe shoulder pain and difficulty lifting your arm away from your side or over your head
  • Tried other treatments, such as rest, medications, cortisone injections and physical therapy, that have not relieved shoulder pain

About Reverse Shoulder Arthroplasty

Reverse shoulder arthroplasty to replace your shoulder joint with an artificial device usually takes about two hours. Your surgeon will make an incision either on the front or the top of your shoulder. He or she will remove the damaged bone and then position the new components to restore function to your shoulder.

Components include a metal ball that is screwed into the shoulder socket and a plastic cup that is secured into the top of the upper arm bone.

Possible Complications

Your surgeon will discuss the risks with you thoroughly. Surgical risks include bleeding and infection. Complications with reverse total shoulder arthroplasty can include:

  • Loosening of the joint
  • Wear of the components
  • Dislocation of the components

Should any of these occur, you may have to undergo a revision surgery or an additional reverse total shoulder arthroplasty.

Reverse Shoulder Replacement Rehabilitation

You will most likely be able to go home on the first, second or third day after your reverse shoulder replacement. When you leave the hospital, your arm will be in a sling. Your surgeon may instruct you to do gentle range of motion exercises to increase your mobility and endurance.

physical therapy program may be recommended to strengthen your shoulder and improve flexibility. Most patients experience pain relief and most experience a much improved range of motion in their replaced shoulders.