Rotator cuff tears are one of the most common causes of shoulder pain in middle-aged and older individuals. Thankfully, individuals who would not be a candidate for traditional shoulder replacement can experience relief from pain and return of shoulder function with reverse shoulder replacement.
Reverse shoulder replacement is an advanced procedure that was developed to treat patients who are not candidates for traditional shoulder replacement surgery. In a traditional shoulder replacement, the ball of the humerus is replaced with a metal ball and the glenoid cavity of the shoulder blade (scapula) is replaced with a plastic socket. The shoulder then operates as normal, relying on the support of the rotator cuff which produces the large range of motion we enjoy with our shoulder joint.
However, if the shoulder has suffered damage, like a rotator cuff tear, then even after a traditional replacement, the shoulder will not function properly and will continue to experience pain with limited motion.
The benefits of reverse shoulder replacement include:
Stabilizing the Joint – Arthritis and rotator cuff tears can weaken the shoulder joint causing pain, loss of motion, and instability. With reverse shoulder replacement, the joint is strengthened and stabilized
Use of other muscles - With reverse shoulder replacement, the new ball and socket placement are reversed. This reversal results in the shoulder relying not on the rotator cuff for support and motion but on the large deltoid muscle.
Opportunity for treatment – Reverse Shoulder replacement is a treatment option for those that would not benefit from traditional shoulder replacement. Candidates include those who have had a previous traditional shoulder replacement fail, those who experience consistent dislocations of the shoulder, or even those with a shoulder tumor.
There are many benefits to reverse shoulder replacement. It helps stabilize the joint, uses other muscles for support, and provides an opportunity for treatment when traditional replacement is not an option. Reverse shoulder replacement is an advanced procedure and should be performed by an experienced orthopedic surgeon. If you have been told that traditional shoulder replacement is not an option, consider reverse shoulder replacement.