Reverse Shoulder Replacement

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If you need a shoulder replacement due to a completely torn and irreparable rotator cuff, severe shoulder fracture, or dislocation, you may need a reverse shoulder replacement. You are in good hands with the team at Austin Shoulder Institute, in Austin, TX, led by Robert Graham, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon. He has years of expertise in performing reverse shoulder replacement procedures. Call or make an appointment online today.

Illustration for reverse total shoulder replacement at ASI

What is a reverse shoulder replacement?

During a reverse total shoulder replacement, your surgeon replaces the ball (humeral head) of your shoulder joint with an implant that includes a stem with a curved plastic tray. They replace the socket (glenoid) with a rounded metal head that moves inside the curved plastic tray. It’s called a reverse shoulder replacement because the implants reverse the ball and socket of the shoulder joint. The reversal of the ball and socket allows the stronger deltoid muscles to take over for strength and function.

Why would I need a reverse shoulder replacement?

Dr. Graham recommends shoulder replacement surgery when you have painful, limited arm and shoulder movement that prevents you from sleeping through the night or performing everyday tasks.

Dr. Graham assesses your condition to determine if a shoulder replacement is the best option to relieve your pain and restore your mobility and quality of life. In addition to a physical exam, your surgeon orders X-ray or MRI tests to diagnose arthritis or another chronic problem and determine the best type of shoulder replacement surgery to meet your needs.

 It is recommended to have reverse total shoulder replacement when you have:

  • Completely torn or irreparable rotator cuff tendons
  • Cuff tear arthropathy (shoulder arthritis with a large rotator cuff tear)
  • A severe shoulder fracture
  • Shoulder dislocation and a large rotator cuff tear

What should I expect after a reverse shoulder replacement?

After your surgery, you are moved to a recovery room and closely monitored as you recover from anesthesia. The surgical team checks your shoulder frequently to assess your movement, temperature, and feeling. In most cases, you’ll recover from anesthesia in one to three hours. 

Then, you move to a regular hospital room for further recovery and usually stay in the hospital for up to three days. During your stay, you meet with a physical therapist to start the process of rehabilitating your shoulder. You learn exercises to practice at home. 

When you’re discharged from the hospital, your surgeon provides a sling and at-home instructions for aftercare including:

  • Take pain medication and wear the sling as directed
  • Don’t use your arm to support your weight or reach for anything
  • Practice your at-home physical therapy, but don’t overdo it
  • No vigorous physical activity for at least six weeks
  • Arrange for at-home care

If you live with chronic shoulder pain and reduced mobility, call Austin Shoulder Institute or make an appointment online today to learn about your treatment options including reverse shoulder replacement.