Though shoulder replacement surgery is not as common as knee and hip replacement, the main reason for shoulder replacements is osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis. Besides osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, rotator cuff tears, trauma and injury restricts the movement and may call for a shoulder replacement surgery for relief.
Which symptoms need a Shoulder Replacement Surgery?
When a person suffers from shoulder pain that actually interferes his/her daily activities, it may be time to consult an orthopedic surgeon. Some other symptoms that may need a shoulder replacement surgery may include:
- Shoulder pain that persists even after using anti-inflammatory medications, injections and physical therapy.
- Loss of range of motion
- Pain at rest or disturbing a good night’s sleep.
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How Reverse Shoulder Replacement different from standard Shoulder Replacement?
In a standard shoulder replacement surgery, the normal anatomy of shoulder is followed. The surgeon removes the damaged portion of the socket and fits a plastic cup into the shoulder socket in the shoulder blade. The head of the humerus bone (the long bone in the upper arm) is removed and a metal ball is attached in its place. The rotator cuff muscles and tendons are required to help the shoulder prosthesis to function like a normal shoulder.
While in reverse shoulder replacement, the ball and socket parts of the shoulder joint switch sides. That means, their natural position is reversed.
Which Shoulder conditions need a Reverse Shoulder Replacement Surgery?
The main reasons for which a person is suggested to undergo a reverse shoulder replacement surgery include:
- When there is arthritis of the shoulder joint and the rotator cuff tendons are damaged. In this situation, this procedure will give significant pain relief to the patient and may also help with the range of motion of the shoulder.
- When the rotator cuff tendons are all damaged and the patient cannot lift the arm high enough to function. In this case, the patient may not experience the pain but the inability to lift the arm disrupts the ability to function normally in life. Post surgery, the patient can regain the motion and function of the shoulder.
- When the patient doesn’t get relief from the pain and regain the motion even after he had a shoulder replacement, a reverse shoulder replacement surgery is performed.
What are the Potential Complications of Reverse Shoulder Replacement Surgery?
The complications of this surgery are similar to those of any joint replacement surgeries. The most common complications include:
- The dislocation of the socket (arm portion) from the ball (the shoulder blade part). This makes the two parts of the prosthesis to get disconnected from each other. It needs further surgery to tighten the things.
- The second most complication is prosthesis infection. It can be controlled by surgery to wash the joint and with antibiotics.
- Tingling, numbness and weakness if the nerves to the arm are stretched during surgery.
- Injury to blood vessels that can happen if the patient has had multiple operations.
Who Should not undergo a Reverse Shoulder Replacement Surgery?
There are only a few instances in which this surgery cannot be performed. The first case is when the socket bone doesn’t support the implantation of the reverse prosthesis. And the second situation is when the patient is suffering from an ongoing infection. The reverse prosthesis can be inserted if the infection is cleared. But if the shoulder replacement is done in a shoulder that has had an infection previously, the rate of infection is higher when compared to the shoulder that never had an infection. So, this concern should be discussed with the doctor prior to having this surgery done.