The success of a shoulder replacement depends on the function of the muscles of the rotator cuff. However in some cases of arthritis the rotator cuff may be significantly damaged. In this situation a conventional shoulder replacement is unlikely to restore function, and a reverse shoulder replacement may be needed.

This involves fixing the ball of the artificial joint onto the side of the glenoid (bony socket), and the socket of the artificial joint is implanted on to the humerus.

This is an effective procedure, which can enable the patient to lift the arm above shoulder level.

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic. Usually the anaesthetist may also use an injection in your neck region to numb the nerves around the shoulder nerve to control postoperative pain.

The operation is done through a cut at the front of the shoulder and involves replacing the ball of the shoulder joint with a metal or ceramic ball. The socket is replaced with a plastic socket.

Postoperatively the arm is immobilized in a sling for about 3weeks. However, physiotherapy is started the day after surgery, and patients are discharged in 1-2 days after operation.

Risks and complications

  • Infection
  • Dislocation
  • Nerve injury
  • Need for revision surgery