Reverse Shoulder Replacement Recovery

Reverse shoulder replacement surgery offers several benefits for individuals with specific shoulder conditions. This article will give an overview of the reverse shoulder replacement procedure, who may benefit from it, and how long it may take you to recover.

For personalized care and expertise in shoulder surgery, consider scheduling an appointment with Benjamin W. Szerlip, DO, a fellowship-trained shoulder and sports medicine surgeon based in Austin, Texas. Dr. Szerlip’s commitment to patient well-being and extensive experience ensures tailored treatment plans designed to optimize recovery and restore shoulder function. Take the first step towards recovery by contacting Dr. Szerlip’s practice today!

What is a Reverse Shoulder Replacement Surgery?

A reverse shoulder replacement surgery is a procedure that replaces the bone surfaces of the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint but with the prosthesis in a switched position.

The glenohumeral joint is a ball and socket joint, with the ball at the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) and the socket on the shoulder blade (glenoid). While a traditional total shoulder replacement mimics the ball and socket joint, a reverse shoulder replacement will put the ball and socket in a reverse position. The metal ball will be placed on the shoulder blade and the plastic socket on the arm bone.

After a reverse shoulder replacement, you will use different muscles to lift your arm. Normal shoulder function relies on your rotator cuff muscles. In reverse shoulder replacement, you will use your deltoid muscle to address any problem with the rotator cuff. This makes it very useful if you need a shoulder replacement and your rotator cuff tendons are torn or you have rotator cuff tear arthropathy.

You might be recommended for a reverse shoulder surgery if you have:

The Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement Procedure

During a reverse total shoulder replacement procedure, your orthopedic surgeon will make an incision at the front of the shoulder.

Your surgeon will then remove the damaged bone surfaces of the upper arm bone and the shoulder blade. The reverse prosthesis will then be placed in position. The whole procedure will take 45 minutes to 1 hour in the surgery.

What Happens After the Procedure?

When you finish the surgery, you will be given antibiotics to prevent infection. You will also be given a nerve block and pain medication to help you feel more comfortable.

Your doctor will discuss the possibility of going home the same day or whether you need to stay in the hospital overnight. Approximately 80-90% of patients go home after their surgery on the same day

What is Reverse Shoulder Replacement Recovery Like?

Your recovery from a reverse shoulder replacement will depend on various factors, such as age, overall health, shoulder damage extent, and your commitment to post-operative rehabilitation. To regain shoulder strength and mobility, you will need to follow a program of rehabilitation.

Your recovery timeline may look like this:

  • Immediately After Surgery:  Most patients go home on the same day. Some patients requiring additional medical care will stay 1 night after the surgery.
  • 1 to 6 weeks: During this time, you will need to look after your surgical wound as it heals. You will be taking pain medication for shoulder pain. Physical therapy will begin to help you regain shoulder movement. A sling will likely be recommended for 2-4 weeks, but patients can move their hand, wrist, and elbow at a waist level right after the surgery. 
  • 6 weeks to 3 months: Physical therapy will now focus on helping you regain strength, stability, and mobility. You may be able to gradually return to some everyday activities.
  • 3 to 6 months: You should be working towards full recovery during this time. Some patients continue to make progress in mobility and strength after a year has passed. You should be able to perform most daily tasks and progress to recreational activities and hobbies such as sports and lifting weights

Recovery from this surgery requires dedication to post-operative rehabilitation and adherence to medical advice. You should try to balance between doing too little and doing too much. If you push yourself too much during the rehabilitation, such as by doing heavy lifting or high-impact activities, you could set your recovery time back.

Schedule Your Appointment Today

If you’re considering reverse shoulder replacement surgery or seeking expert guidance on shoulder conditions, don’t hesitate to reach out to Benjamin W. Szerlip, DO. Dr. Szerlip is a fellowship-trained shoulder and sports medicine surgeon based in Austin, Texas.

Contact our practice today to schedule a consultation. This is your first step in achieving improved shoulder health and functionality.


Medically reviewed by Benjamin W. Szerlip DO