A shoulder replacement is used to replace the shoulder socket with a high-density metal or plastic cup. The upper part of the arm is fitted with a meal ball to allow the shoulder natural function. Two options for replacing a damaged joint is the conventional (traditional) shoulder replacement and the reverse shoulder replacement. Shoulder surgery started in the United States in the mid-1950s, and it was first use for severe shoulder fractures. Around 23,000 Americans have shoulder surgery each year.
Who Needs Shoulder Replacement Surgery?
Certain conditions and factors increase your risk for shoulder replacement surgery. These include:
- Osteoarthritis is the most common reason for shoulder replacement surgery. A type of wear-and-tear arthritis, osteoarthritis usually affects older people. Over time, the shoulder joint becomes painful and stiff.
- A severe shoulder fracture is a common reason for a shoulder replacement procedure. When the head of the upper arm bone is shattered, the blood flow is interrupted.
- Patients with long-standing rotator cuff tear can develop cuff tear arthropathy.
- Finally, avascular necrosis leads to lack of blood flow to the shoulder, which can lead to humeral head death.
Reverse Shoulder Replacement VS. Conventional Shoulder Replacement
When there is significant damage to the rotator cuff and deterioration of the shoulder’s normal structure, a reverse shoulder replacement is the best option. With this procedure, the ball and socket are positioned in the opposite positions. The metal ball is attached to the shoulder, and the socket component is placed on the upper portion of the humerus (upper arm bone).
With the traditional shoulder replacement, the metal ball is attached to the upper arm bone, and the plastic socket is attached to the shoulder bone. The surgery is highly technical, and each case is treated uniquely. The implants are smoothed using special tools to fit your body, and the surgeon carefully assesses each patient individually.
Reverse Shoulder Replacement Rehab
A careful and well-planned rehabilitation program is crucial to the success of shoulder replacement. You are started on gentle physical therapy the day of or after your procedure. You will wear an arm sling for the first several weeks after surgery, but start using the arm in a few days, and then only at night for 4-6 weeks. Most patients are performing activities of daily living (dressing, eating, grooming) around 2 weeks post-surgery.
The physical therapist will meet with you 2-4 times each week to learn exercises for flexibility, function, and strength. You should avoid placing your arm in an extreme position, such as behind your body, for at least 6 weeks. In addition, you cannot do heavy lifting or sports for 8-12 weeks. Be sure to not overuse the joint, which may result in severe motion limitations.