What Is Reverse Shoulder Surgery?


Quick Answer

Reverse shoulder surgery is used to treat rotator cuff tear arthropathy and is done by placing a ball-and-socket joint into the shoulder opposite of its natural position, claims About.com. In other words, the joint is placed in reverse of its normal position.

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Full Answer

Though not all patients benefit from a reverse shoulder replacement, those who also have a tear in the rotator cuff may find it helpful, explains About.com. For these people, traditional options for surgery often do not work. During a traditional shoulder replacement, the top of the bone of the arm is fitted with a metal ball instead of bone. The socket of the shoulder is replaced with plastic; however, this easily loosens in patients who also have a torn rotator cuff. In addition, the implant does not move properly.

When it comes to the reverse shoulder replacement, there is also a ball-and-socket joint used, according to About.com; however, the ball of the joint is placed on the shoulder blade, and the socket put on the top of the bone of the arm. This is the opposite of the natural anatomy. Typically, this procedure is only recommended to those who have severe arthritis in the shoulders in addition to a rotator cuff tear. Other patients' needs can be met with other therapies.

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