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Reverse Shoulder Replacement

What is a reverse shoulder replacement?

Similar to a hip or knee replacement, shoulder replacement is a surgical treatment for shoulder arthritis in which the damaged, arthritic surface of the joint is replaced with an artificial one. In a reverse shoulder replacement, both sides of the shoulder joint are resurfaced. In contrast to conventional shoulder replacement, however, the orientation of the ball and socket are reversed. The artificial ball is placed on the glenoid (socket) side of the joint and the artificial socket is placed on the humeral head (ball) side of the joint.

Who should have a reverse shoulder replacement?

Shoulder replacement is reserved for people with severe shoulder conditions that fail to improve with non-surgical treatment. In addition, reverse shoulder replacement is further reserved for people with an anatomical variation that requires special treatment. This includes irreparable rotator cuff tears, some shoulder fractures, and certain types of advanced shoulder arthritis. In these circumstances reversing the ball-and-socket orientation often helps patients resume many of their activities and function with significantly less pain.

What is the recovery like?

Reverse shoulder replacement surgery normally includes a brief overnight hospital stay. The affected arm is kept in a sling, but may be removed for gentle range of motion exercises immediately. Walking and other light activity is encouraged. Most people go home the day after surgery, but it is helpful to have someone available to provide assistance for the first several days at home. Strenuous activities are restricted for at least 3 months to allow for adequate healing.