Sophisticated Treatment for Damaged Shoulders

Reverse shoulder replacement surgery was developed in the 1980s, and was approved by the FDA in 2003. Since that time, it’s been performed successfully on many patients in Europe and the United States.

reverse- shoulder replacementThe reverse aspect of this surgery is the position of the ball and socket in the shoulder joint (ball being the head of the humerus and socket being the glenoid).
With conventional shoulder replacement, a cup-shaped piece of plastic is inserted into the socket and a metal ball is attached to the top of the humerus (arm bone). In reverse replacement surgery, the socket and metal ball are swapped: The metal ball is attached to the socket, and the plastic cup is fixed to the upper end of the humerus.

In normal shoulders, the rotator cuff muscles control the arm during range of motion. In patients with torn rotator cuffs and severe arthropathy, those muscles no longer function adequately. The reverse shoulder replacement effectively transfers the burden of lifting from the rotator cuff muscles to the deltoid muscles.

The Following Patients May Be Candidates For this Type of Surgery:

  • Those with a complete, unrepairable tear of the rotator cuff
  • Patients with cuff tear arthropathy (disabling arthritis resulting from rotator cuff injuries)
  • Those who’ve undergone shoulder surgery and have not regained function
  • Those who’ve exhausted other treatment options (such as medications, cortisone injections and physical therapy)
  • Patients with severe, intractable shoulder pain that hasn’t responded to other treatments

It’s important to follow the doctor’s recommendations after surgery, to allow the shoulder sufficient time to heal. Thus you’ll be given an exercise protocol to help gently strengthen the rebuilt shoulder.

You’ll also be advised not to perform certain motions– like pushing yourself up from a chair using your arms, or lifting heavy objects– for six or more weeks after surgery.
Because this is a relatively new surgical procedure, not all surgeons offer the service. The knowledge and the skill of the surgeon– critical in every orthopedic operation– become key factors in reverse shoulder replacement.

If you are interested in learning more about this advanced treatment for impaired shoulders, call our Orthopedic Center and schedule a consultation with Dr. Shaw.

After a thorough physical exam and evaluation of your medical history, we can decide if reverse shoulder replacement surgery is the appropriate treatment for you.


For general information about reverse shoulder replacement surgery see this web site hosted by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.