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What Is A Reverse Shoulder Replacement?

Sometimes, should a shoulder or shoulder-related injury be severe, what is known as a reverse shoulder replacement is necessary? Of course, other instances may necessitate a reverse shoulder replacement, perhaps when shoulder joints are arthritic or missing cartilage that help it function properly. Regardless, a reverse shoulder replacement is a procedure that is necessary for any dire shoulder injury that has resulted in the shoulder either always painful and/or unable to work at all. Dines Orthopedic, Orthopedic Surgeon UES NYC knows the shoulder better than anyone, able to help however we can, no matter the severity.

Why Is It Called a Reverse Shoulder Replacement?

The joints in our shoulders are made up of a ball-socket pairing, the ball being part of the humerus and the socket being the flat surface that makes up the shoulder plate. In a standard shoulder replacement, the ball is replaced with a nearly identical metal counterpart, and the socket is replaced with a flat piece of plastic. These work in tandem to accurately mimic the shoulder under normal conditions, flesh and all. 

However, you may ask, why is this done in reverse? What earns the procedure such a moniker is that during this particular process, the ball and socket switch sides, the opposite of where they are supposed to be naturally. The socket is placed along the side of the shoulder where the arm is, supported by a metal stem in the bones of the arm. 

What keeps these two artificial joints together are metal screws on the socket, which are connected to the natural bones that make up the rest of the shoulder blade. The plastic socket piece is hooked to the metal ball piece in such a way (ensuring the natural muscles still there can work in tandem to keep up homeostasis) so that the shoulder can function properly. The muscles around the shoulder work with the artificial joints to keep the shoulder in place and the metal screws already installed.

How Do You Know If You Need A Standard Or Reverse Shoulder Replacement?

Orthopedic Surgeon UES NYC

Usually brought about by arthritis, cartilage and tendons of the shoulder tend to degrade and eventually disappear, being one of, if not the main cause of pain in individuals and the first sign of needing surgery of some kind. A standard shoulder replacement is necessary should the tendons and cartilage still be there. Yet, a reverse shoulder replacement is necessary if they become so torn to the point where they fail to attach properly to any part of the bones. 


Standard shoulder replacements are there for any dramatic injuries, whereas reverse shoulder replacements are for more illness-related causes that debilitate the body. A reverse shoulder replacement is also viable should the rotator cuff completely malfunction or be severely torn. 

Primary Reasons Of Needing Reverse Shoulder Replacement

Arthritis in the shoulder joint is by far the most common reason for needing reverse shoulder replacement surgery. The rotator cuffs limit the ability to raise your arm high a close second when it comes to main causes. Before the operation, the medical provider will administer pain relief and aid in increasing the shoulder range, though, by this point, it is a clear sign that surgery is necessary. Dines Orthopedic, Orthopedic Surgeon UES NYC will be able to tell if you need reverse shoulder replacement in no time at all, ensuring as minimal pain as possible will be felt on your end.

Besides degradation of tissue due to arthritis and completely torn rotator cuffs, other factors may come into play, however. If you had already experienced a replacement before reverse shoulder replacements were an option, and pain is still regularly felt, a reverse surgery would be required. The proximal humerus is part of the arm bone where the ball joint is attached. It may also instigate reverse surgery, as there may either be a dangerous tumor growing in the region or if the proximal humerus is simply and severely damaged when the bone is broken into much too many pieces. 

Complications may arise post-surgery (as is the case with most surgeries). However, when it comes to reverse shoulder replacement, it is extremely uncommon, such as infection, injury to blood vessels, or if the ball and socket dislocate. These take no time to fix, though if they repeat, further surgery may be necessary.

Contact Our Orthopedic Surgeon UES NYC Today

Dines Orthopedic, Orthopedic Surgeon UES NYC is always here to help however we can when it comes to your shoulder, no matter what. Contact us today; we are located in Midtown, Manhattan, and Uniondale, Long Island.

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