Reverse Shoulder Replacement

Shoulder arthritis causes pain and loss of movement in the shoulder. The joint lining known as cartilage, wears out resulting in the underlying bone becoming exposed. As the bones then move against each other, the exposed bone can cause pain as well as restrict movement. If the movement loss or pain levels are significant, then a shoulder replacement to relieve pain and restore function may become an option. 

Occasionally, the rotator cuff is torn significantly. In this situation, a shoulder replacement is undertaken in a particular style known as a reverse shoulder replacement. Both versions of a shoulder replacement are commonly undertaken with good results.

The complication rate of this type of operation is now low when performed by experienced shoulder surgeons. For more complex cases, surgeons are now able to use computerised patient specific instrumentation. Using this advanced technology, the surgeon is then able to place the shoulder replacement components very accurately.

Reverse shoulder replacement is now a great option for patients with rotator cuff arthropathy (arthritis from their rotator cuff tear) or other conditions where there

  • is failure of a total shoulder replacement or 
  • where the shape of the socket of the shoulder is abnormal due to previous surgery or a congenital deformity.

Usually, you are required to stay in hospital for 2 to 3 days after surgery. Post operatively, use of the arm is started the day after surgery and a sling is worn at night time for 4 weeks post operatively. Physiotherapy is usually not needed with reverse shoulder surgery. Occasionally if you’re progressing slowly with your movement recovery, a short course of physiotherapy from the end of the third month may be required.

It is important to note that this operation often helps with pain relief and restoring basic range of motion of the shoulder. It does not restore the ability of the shoulder to perform heavy work or sport.