Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

My father is going to have a shoulder replacement but the doctor said it is a "reverse" replacement. What does that mean?

Answer:

While regular shoulder replacements can be very successful for the right patients, if the patients have torn rotator cuffs, this is not the ideal solution. The movement of the shoulder places a lot of strain on the rotator cuff. The regular shoulder replacements include replacing the ball at the top of the humerus (the upper arm bone) with a metal ball. The socket in the scapula (shoulder blade) is replaced with a plastic socket. However, if the patient has a torn rotator cuff, this replacement can come loose. In the reverse replacement, the ball is at the top, where the scapula is, and the socket is part of the humerus. With this arrangement, the upper arm muscle, the deltoid takes on the responsibility of the movement rather than the rotator cuff. Derek Cuff, MD, et al. Reverse Shoulder Arthroplasty for the Treatment of Rotator Cuff Deficiency. In The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. June 2008. Volume 90. No. 6 Pp. 1244-1251.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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