We don’t realize how much of our daily lives is enabled by our shoulders. They give us the ability to do everything from reaching our shelves to raising our hands in class to getting dressed in the morning.
That’s why a damaged or injured shoulder can really bring focus on how important our shoulders are in our daily lives. The damage and pain that may come from your shoulder can occur from years of weightlifting, a bad fall, or arthritis taking its painful toll on your joints over time.
In fact, after knees and hips, shoulders are the third most common body part to need replacement. Traditionally, with shoulder replacement surgery, your doctor would repair and replace the damaged parts with prosthetic (artificial) parts.
The type of damage to your shoulder plays a big part in whether you would be a good candidate for a traditional shoulder replacement surgery or for a new technique known as reverse shoulder replacement.
What Is Reverse Shoulder Replacement Surgery?
Your shoulder comprises three bones: the scapula (shoulder blade), the clavicle (collarbone), and the humerus (the long bone in your upper arm). The shoulder blade and collarbone stabilize the a ball-and-socket joint – the “ball” at the top of the humerus and the socket in the shoulder blade.
These three bones work together via an interconnection of muscles and tendons called the rotator cuff. If the tendons in the shoulder and rotator cuff have been badly damaged or have degenerated due to arthritis, reverse shoulder replacement may be the best solution.
In this procedure, the traditional shoulder replacement surgery is essentially flipped – or reversed – as the name suggests. In this case, the surgeon would physically attach a prosthetic “ball” to your shoulder blade (rather than to the top of the arm bone), and a prosthetic socket would be attached to the top of the humerus (arm bone).
This way, your range of motion is greatly increased, and the parts of your shoulder that need the most support get the assistance they need. If your rotator cuff is torn, for instance, it would get support from other muscles like your deltoid after this surgery.
Am I a Good Candidate for This Type of Shoulder Surgery?
You would likely be a good candidate for a reverse shoulder replacement surgery if you are older and are experiencing severe pain with little movement. This type of procedure would greatly improve your chances of mobility.
This procedure is also ideal for someone whose rotator cuff is damaged beyond traditional repair, because it allows for greater mobility than with traditional shoulder surgery.
However, you may not be a good candidate for a reverse shoulder surgery if your muscles are not strong enough around your shoulder to take on the additional burden from the restructuring. The procedure is also not recommended for young patients.
Orthopedic Surgeons in New Jersey
If you want to learn more about the various types of shoulder surgery and which one may be best for you, contact the Orthopedic Associates of West Jersey. We will conduct a personal evaluation of your joint issue, and we will discuss the various treatment options that would be best tailored to your unique needs.
Call us today at (973) 989-0888 or request an appointment here. We look forward to helping you live more pain-free while you reach for the stars.