Reverse Shoulder Replacement

Reverse shoulder replacement was developed for patients that experience rotator cuff arthropathy. Rotator cuff arthropathy occurs when a patient experiences both shoulder arthritis and a rotator cuff tear. The rotator cuff is group of tendons and muscles that surround shoulder joint and allow you to perform numerous day to day tasks and activities. When a patient experiences a significant rotator cuff tear that is left untreated many times this results in osteoarthritis of the joint. Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative arthritis which is a gradual breakdown of cartilage in the joint. Common causes of shoulder osteoarthritis include wear and tear from aging or injury to the joint. 

In a healthy shoulder the head of the humerus is covered by cartilage. This healthy cartilage allows the bone to move smoothly within the joint. When osteoarthritis starts to develop this cartilage begins to deteriorate and wear away. This eventually may lead to the head of the humerus rubbing on the shoulder socket causing bony growths along the joint known as bone spurs. Osteoarthritis can result in pain, tenderness, stiffness, a limited range of motion, difficulty sleeping, and a grating sensation when moving the arm. 

A sudden tear of the rotator cuff is typically caused by lifting incorrectly, a fall, or some type of trauma such as impact in a car accident. Repetitive overhead arm motions such as those in tennis, baseball, or painting places significant stress on the tendons and muscles. This can create an imbalance in the joint which can lead to instability of the joint and a rotator cuff tear. Rotator cuff injuries typically result in constant pain that increases in severity when you lift your arm. With severe tears patients may be unable to lift their arm at all as the tendons and or muscles that power this movement are compromised. 

When a patient experiences severe osteoarthritis of the shoulder with an "intact" rotator cuff a traditional shoulder replacement is typically performed to recreate the natural anatomy. When patients develop osteoarthritis of the shoulder with a significant rotator cuff tear a traditional shoulder replacement can not be utilized as the tendons and muscles that power the shoulder are no longer effective to carry out these movements. Traditional shoulder replacement recreates our natural anatomy with the ball of the shoulder joint is on the top of the arm bone and a socket or plastic socket sit on the shoulder blade to create a ball and socket joint. In reverse shoulder replacement the ball in placed on the shoulder blade and the socket is created on the top of the arm bone. By reversing the shoulder anatomy the large healthy deltoid muscle now powers the shoulder instead of the damaged rotator cuff. Reverse shoulder replacement should help achieve a greater range of motion, reduced pain, regain the ability to lift your arm over your head, and carry out everyday tasks.