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Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement: Newest Advances in Shoulder Surgery Print E-mail

By Dr. Peter Reynolds

Shoulder problems can sideline your life, where even daily tasks – brushing your hair or teeth, reaching into a cabinet or carrying a grocery bag – can be excruciatingly painful or even impossible.

Advances in shoulder repair and replacement surgery have provided relief and return to mobility for many, but haven’t provided reliable options for a certain segment of the population—those with arthritis complicated by rotator cuff tears or those who’ve suffered massive tears to the rotator cuff.

If you’re among this group, the Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement can alleviate your pain and provide a return to mobility. It is the newest and most dynamic advance in shoulder replacement surgery over the past decade. Unfortunately, most patients and many physicians aren’t aware of it.

Understanding Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement can help you know whether you or your patients are good candidates.

Performed only over the last two-three years by orthopaedic surgeons specializing in shoulders, the Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement reverses the natural anatomy of the shoulder.

A metal “ball” is attached to the shoulder blade or scapula, and a plastic cup is fixed to the top of the humerus—the upper arm bone—for the “socket.” This reversal allows the large shoulder deltoid muscle to move the arm and provides a fixed point of rotation for the muscles to work against, restoring mobility and strength.

If you have a tear in your rotator cuff, a surgical repair may be an option. Repairing a large tear is more problematic, and in some cases, ineffective. If you have arthritis with a rotator cuff tear, then surgery to repair the shoulder or a traditional Total Shoulder Replacement—which mirrors the actual anatomy of the shoulder—is not an option. The rotator cuff doesn’t have enough strength to enable function of the deltoid muscle, which forms the rounded contour of the shoulder. The deltoids allow for shoulder abduction—lifting your arm sideways away from the midline of your body—as well as rotating your arm.

If any of these issues affect you or your patient—a large rotator cuff tear, or any cuff tear complicated by arthritis—the Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement is the best hope for a return to normal shoulder function.

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Protecting your Shoulder - Tips and Exercises

Not until you've injured your shoulder do you realize how critical this joint is for everyday functioning. Washing your hair, getting dressed, reaching into a cupboard, lifting -- almost every activity you'll notice if your shoulder is not in good health.

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, able to do 360-degree rotations backwards and forwards. This mobility comes at a price, however, as it is more susceptible to dislocations and subluxations.

Don't ignore your shoulder health. If you're active in sports like tennis, volleyball, racquetball, golf, surfing or kayaking, you can place huge strains on your shoulder.

And even if you're not athletic, rotator cuff problems increase exponentially with age-in fact, some researcher say in epidemic proportions for those over 40.

There are simple shoulder exercises you can do at the gym or even at home that will help keep your shoulders flexible and strong.

Take the time to look at these videos presented on SportsnFitness, a YouTube channel created by a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer with a degree in sports management.

Wall circles

Ball roll ups

Circles in the sand


Latest News

Community Talk July 28, 2014 6:30pm

Join Dr. Nicholas Abidi, M.D., Dr. Peter Reynolds, M.D. and  Dr. Christian Heywood, M.D. as they discuss knee and hip pain and the available treatment options.



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