Throwing a football with kids and grandkids, swinging a tennis racket, hammering a nail, or just getting a plate from the cabinets - all involve lifting your shoulder. And when your shoulder's giving you problems, it can make for an uncomfortable life.
In general, the shoulder works as a ball-and-socket joint with three main bones: the upper arm (humerus), shoulder blade (scapula), and collarbone (clavicle). Normally, the joint is supported by muscles around the shoulder, and its movement is created and controlled with interactions of over thirty muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
With this, the rotator cuff is a group of these muscles and tendons that enable the arm to be lifted, reach overhead, and do the activities (and others) listed above. When the rotator cuff is damaged, the joint can become unstable, which will restrict the range of motion. This out-of-balance joint will wear down the cartilage between the bones, causing pain known as osteoarthritis.
If this pain and lack of motion range is just too much for the individual (whether in pain or in lifestyle adjustment), there have been limited surgical options for people with sever deterioration of the shoulder joint, as conventional shoulder implants couldn't address both the arthritis and rotator cuff damage.
But thanks to advancing technologies, there is an option that addresses both the painful arthritis and the damaged rotator cuff. It the the Reverse Shoulder Prosthesis. It looks a little bit like a handheld shower head, but the head looks up at roughly a 45 degree angle. Made of metal and polyethylene, the prosthesis replaces the damaged joint and mimics the original shoulder's anatomy, but with a deeper socket to stabilize the joint.
With the Reverse Shoulder Prosthesis, the patient has a greater potential for a greater range of motion compared to conventional shoulder implants.
Physical therapy is conducted in recovery until the patient can resume daily activities and the muscles are back up to strength, and patients are able to return to activities within a few months.
If you've experienced increasing pain and difficulty with your shoulder (or both), talk to your doctor about what options you may have. They will assess your shoulder's current situation, and if they recommend a joint replacement, be sure you ask about a Reverse Shoulder Prosthesis - it could be the key to getting you back to a fully functional, pain-free lifestyle.
Dr. Ryan Cordry