What is Shoulder Arthritis?
Shoulder arthritis is a degenerative disease that causes pain, weakness, and limited mobility and function of the shoulder. A common problem among older adults, it often develops from a previous shoulder injury or from the natural aging process of the shoulder joint.
There are many successful non-surgical treatment alternatives to consider for arthritis of the shoulder. Once all non-operative approaches have been tried, replacement surgery can be the next step in helping to alleviate the symptoms. Shoulder surgeon, Dr. Robert Boykin specializes in the treatment of shoulder arthritis for patients in Asheville, Arden, Fletcher and surrounding North Carolina communities.
Am I a Candidate for a Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement?
In patients who have long standing tears of the rotator cuff, the rotator cuff muscles may no longer function as they should. Normally these muscles help to center the ball (humeral head) in the socket (glenoid part of the shoulder blade); however, when they are chronically torn the ball moves higher than the socket which results in arthritis. This process is called rotator cuff arthropathy (wearing of the joint). Because a traditional shoulder replacement approach relies on the rotator cuff muscles to help move the shoulder joint and keep the replacement in proper position, this approach will not be effective in cases of rotator cuff tear arthropathy. Instead, a reverse total shoulder replacement surgery provides the best outcome in terms of pain relief and function.
This special type of replacement changes the biomechanics of the shoulder and allows the deltoid muscle (large muscle on the outside of the shoulder which is not part of the rotator cuff) to to move and stabilize the joint, instead of the rotator cuff muscles. This is accomplished by placing the ball on the glenoid (normally the socket) and the socket on the humerus (which is normally the ball). Because the ball and socket are reversed, the procedure is called a “reverse” total shoulder replacement. Just like with a standard shoulder replacement approach, the degenerated cartilage and bone of the shoulder joint are replaced with metal and plastic components. These components allow patients to have a more mobility, improved function, and less pain.
What is a Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement?
The surgical approach for a reverse total shoulder replacement is the same as that for a standard total shoulder replacement surgery. This involves an incision on the front of the shoulder that allows access into the shoulder joint. The painful degenerative areas of the joint are removed and the metal and plastic components are placed. This procedure is very successful in providing relief for many patients who have had chronic shoulder pain as a result of shoulder arthritis and rotator cuff issues.
Recovery Following Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement
After surgery, it is important for patients to follow rehab closely as this therapeutic process is a very important step in the recovery. After reverse shoulder replacement surgery, patients are placed into a specific therapy program where strength, range of motion, and overall mobility are gained in a stepwise progression. After a recovery period of 2-3 months, patients are typically able to get back to their daily activities and note significant improvements in pain. A return to sporting activities is patient and activity dependent.
For additional resources on the treatment of osteoarthritis of the shoulder, or to learn more about the reverse total shoulder replacement surgery, please contact the office of Dr. Robert Boykin, serving Asheville, Arden, Fletcher and surrounding North Carolina communities. orthopedic shoulder surgeon.