In many cases, chronic shoulder pain caused by degenerative disorders such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis will require surgical intervention up to and including shoulder replacement. Thanks to new advances in surgical techniques and materials, reverse shoulder replacement is a recent development that can add stability to your shoulder and increase range of motion with great improvements in quality of life.

At Memorial Hermann, our health care professionals focus on providing compassionate, comprehensive care with modern surgical techniques, physical therapy and routine follow-up to help you regain mobility and return to your regular lifestyle.

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Who benefits from reverse shoulder replacement?

Much like total shoulder replacement, patients with chronic pain caused by degeneration of the shoulder joint benefit from treatment. Patients also benefit from the added stability that reverse shoulder replacement offers due to its lowered dependence on the rotator cuff.

What does reverse shoulder replacement look like?

Reverse shoulder replacement typically looks the same from an incision standpoint, and you will typically prepare for surgery in much the same way as a total shoulder replacement. However, there are key differences in the surgical technique and materials used.

How does it differ from traditional total shoulder replacement?

Instead of using a “stem” and “dish” to repair the shoulder, reverse shoulder replacement switches the components used. Your surgeon will use a ball on the glenoid side and a cup (rather than a dish) on the humeral side. The significance of this change is the increased stability offered. Unlike a total shoulder replacement, a reverse shoulder replacement does not require the rotator cuff to hold it stable.

As we age, rotator cuffs tend to weaken or thin and may not function as well. Because the reverse shoulder replacement surgery does not depend on the rotator cuff as much, it is a much more stable surgery. Instead, other tissues help hold it in place.

Recovering from a Reverse Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Recovering from a reverse shoulder surgery is much the same as with traditional shoulder replacement. The incision, recovery and therapy modalities are the same. The biggest difference, however, is in recovery time. Patients who have reverse shoulder replacement performed can often return to daily function faster than patients who receive total shoulder replacement.

Typically you will need to wear a sling for two to three weeks and then undergo a period of physical therapy for three to four months, potentially as long as six months. You will likely be able to resume your full normal routine within a year.

Am I a candidate for reverse shoulder replacement?

Whether or not you have reverse shoulder replacement depends on a variety of factors, including your surgeon’s knowledge of the technique and the strength of other parts of your shoulder, such as the rotator cuff, deltoid and other soft tissues.

It is important to note that reverse shoulder replacement is one of many recent improvements in the management of chronic shoulder pain. Due to new techniques, materials, post-operative pain protocols and processes, undergoing any kind of surgery for shoulder pain is much less intimidating than in the past, and the trade-offs, such as increased mobility and greater quality of life, are worth it.

Reverse Shoulder Replacement Surgery at Memorial Hermann

Reverse shoulder replacement is becoming more commonplace as additional physicians learn the technique. Generally speaking, many surgeons who perform this surgery find the decreased recovery times and mechanical stability to be so great that they convert most of their patients to this procedure.

At Memorial Hermann, we focus on providing cutting-edge medical techniques to improve our patients’ quality of life. Our surgeons, nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists stay up to date on the latest advances in medicine. To get started, contact us today or find a joint center location near you.

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