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Reverse Total Shoulder

If you have both arthritis in your shoulder and a rotator cuff tear, your surgeon may perform reverse total shoulder replacement. This advanced surgery was specifically created to provide an option when shoulder replacement is needed but the rotator cuff is torn.

Do I qualify for reverse total shoulder replacement?

You may be a good candidate for a reverse total shoulder procedure if:

  • You have both arthritis and a severe rotator cuff tear (called rotator cuff tear arthropathy).
  • You’ve had a prior shoulder replacement that failed.
  • You have a torn rotator cuff that is hard to fix.
  • Your symptoms continue even with other treatments, like injections, medications, or therapy.

How is reverse total shoulder different than traditional replacement?

In traditional shoulder replacement, your surgeon replaces the ball of your arm bone with an artificial ball and your shoulder socket with an artificial socket. In reverse total shoulder replacement, the implants are switched.

During the procedure, your surgeon will first prepare the top of your arm bone and the socket part of your shoulder to fit your replacement pieces. He or she will place a ball implant where the socket was. Then, a socket component is placed at the top of the arm bone where the ball was.

What are the risks of reverse total shoulder replacement?

Some potential complications from reverse total shoulder surgery may include:

  • Irritation around your incision site
  • Blood clots
  • Injury to your nerves or blood vessels
  • Wear, instability, or dislocation of the implants
  • Changes in arm length
  • Infection in the shoulder
  • Fracture of the bones in your shoulder

What recovery is needed after reverse total shoulder surgery?

After surgery, you will most likely need to stay in the hospital for one to two days. You’ll be able to get out of bed and move around on the same day as your surgery. A physical therapist will provide you with exercises to regain flexibility and strength.

Your care team will provide you will instructions for your recovery at home. In general, it’s important to:

  • Take medications as prescribed
  • Go to your physical therapy appointments
  • Avoid picking up heavy objects
  • Avoid pushing up with your shoulder muscles when getting up from sitting or lying down
  • Do daily exercises to improve your shoulder range of motion
  • Avoid reaching over your head