If you suffer from a type of shoulder arthritis called cuff tear arthropathy, an orthopaedic surgeon might recommend a reversed total shoulder replacement. You may be wondering how this procedure differs from a standard shoulder replacement and how it can help to relieve your pain. The following information could give you a better understanding of reverse total shoulder replacement, which could help you decide whether it is right for you.

How Is Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement Different to Standard Shoulder Replacement?

In a conventional shoulder replacement, an orthopaedic surgeon replaces the damaged parts of the shoulder with plastic and metal prostheses. The shoulder functions as normal, relying on the rotator cuff to move the arm. If your rotator cuff is permanently damaged, this kind of shoulder replacement probably won't relieve your pain, as it places a lot of strain on the damaged tendon. The tendon isn't able to stabilize the shoulder, which leads to the plastic components quickly wearing out.

A reverse shoulder replacement reverses the positions of the ball and cup parts of the shoulder joint. Instead of the arm bone rotating inside the cup-shaped part of the shoulder bone, a metal ball attached to the shoulder rotates inside a plastic cup on the end of the arm bone. In this configuration, the deltoid muscle does most of the work involved in raising the arm, taking strain off the rotator cuff and leading to better pain relief.

When Is Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement the Correct Treatment Option?

Reverse total shoulder replacement is a good option for people who have cuff tear arthropathy. If your rotator cuff is healthy, a conventional shoulder replacement may be a better option.

Most doctors recommend trying other treatments for shoulder pain before resorting to surgery. Your doctor might recommend that you try resting or having physical therapy to rehabilitate your painful shoulder. Medications and cortisone injections can also be effective pain relief treatments for some people. However, if you have tried all these options and your shoulder is still painful, you should ask whether conventional or reverse shoulder replacement could be a good option for you.

Recovering From Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement

Immediately after surgery, you'll need to rest your shoulder and take anti-inflammatory medicines such as NSAIDs to relieve pain and prevent swelling. As your shoulder heals, you'll need to see a physical therapist, who can show you some exercises that can help rebuild strength and mobility in your shoulder.