What is a Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement?

Total shoulder replacements are not as common as hip and knee replacements, but our surgeons offer this procedure, as it is just as successful and effective in relieving pain. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, only about 53,000 shoulder replacements are performed each year in the United States. On the flip side, there are over 900,000 hip and knee replacements performed each year. Shoulder arthritis is not as common as hip and knee arthritis, in part because shoulders do not experience as much direct impact over the course of one’s life as hips and knees do.

traditional total shoulder replacement surgery often helps people with shoulder arthritis. However, many shoulder problems stem from rotator cuff tears or fractures. The traditional surgery can often still leave people with complicated shoulder problems in significant and debilitating pain.

Dr. Richard Jackson, our primary shoulder specialist, mostly performs the reverse total shoulder replacement. Approved by the FDA in 2003, the reverse total shoulder replacement restores function for patients who are unable to lift their arms due to significant arthritis, chronic rotator cuff tears, and failed fracture treatments.

In a reverse total shoulder replacement, the surgeon essentially swaps the ball-and-socket. The humerus, which formerly contained the “ball” now contains the “socket,” and the upper arm bone, which formerly contained the “socket” now contains the “ball.” This allows the patient to use the deltoid muscle instead of the rotator cuff to lift the arm. (See below for pictures.)


Our surgeons perform many total shoulder replacement surgeries as outpatient, which lets you return home within 6 hours of surgery. Recovery, like any major surgery, is a long process, but can be very successful if you work at it and abide by doctors’ orders. Your recovery process will include doing physical therapy, taking pain medications, and keeping your arm in a sling.


A successful reverse total shoulder surgery will leave the patient with a more stable and comfortable shoulder. You will be able to sleep on the affected shoulder and be able to perform all or most daily tasks.

Dr. Richard Jackson has performed hundreds of these cases with great success. If you have further questions about the procedure or want to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jackson, call our office today!


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