A Quick Overview of Reverse Shoulder Surgery
You may have heard the term reverse shoulder surgery thrown around here and there as you look for solutions for your current shoulder injury. If you’re not sure exactly what that entails, here’s a quick look at the procedure.
What is it?
A reverse shoulder replacement is a revolutionary idea that works extremely well when your rotator cuff muscles are not strong enough to raise your arm. It is called “reverse” because the artificial ball is placed on the socket of the joint and the artificial socket is placed on top of the arm bone where the ball was. It works because it moves the pivot point of the shoulder and thereby makes it a lot easier to raise your arm.
A reverse shoulder replacement means you will have part or all of your shoulder joint replaced with an artificial one. A partial replacement involves replacing just the ball, and a total replacement involves replacing both the ball and the socket of the joint.
(See drskedros.com for illustrations of this main difference between a reverse and standard shoulder replacement.)
Who should have the surgery?
Your doctor might suggest this surgery if any of the following factors apply to you:
A completely torn and consequently irreparable rotator cuff
Cuff tear arthropathy
A previous and unsuccessful shoulder replacement
Severe shoulder arthritis that significantly limits your movement
Tried other, less invasive treatments and have been unsuccessful
What does the procedure involve?
The procedure is as minimally invasive as possible. It involves a 6-inch incision from your collarbone to your arm. From there, the surgeon will replace the necessary parts of the joint.
If you are receiving a partial surgery, the surgeon will remove the damaged humeral head and cement the metal stem and ball joint to the upper arm bone.
If you are receiving a full replacement, the humeral head will be removed and the metal stem and ball joint will be connected to the arm bone. Then, a plastic cup will be put in place of the socket. The incision is then closed with staples or stitches.
What should you do to prepare?
First off, your surgeon will do a full medical evaluation to ensure you are a good candidate for the surgery. This will include an assessment of your current overall health and any medications that you are taking to ensure that nothing will affect the success of the surgery.
Before you go in for the surgery, you should prepare your home for your recovery period. You’ll want to make sure you can reach things easily without having to reach up. You’ll also want to arrange for someone to be there to help you for the first few weeks, since mobility will be limited.
What should you do after surgery?
You arm will be put in a sling and you will have very limited range of motion. You’ll be asked to participate in physical therapy, including visits to a therapist and home exercises, and it’s integral that you faithfully do both of those if you want to retain full motion in your shoulder again. The more faithful you are at doing the exercises, the quicker and better the result.
For at least a few weeks after the surgery, you’ll want to avoid lifting anything heavier than five pounds or using your arms to push or pull yourself out of a bed or chair. Rest and relaxation will be your quickest route to healing.