Reverse Shoulder Replacement

Last month I wrote an article describing how shoulder replacement is an option for dealing with chronic shoulder pain. However, this procedure is not for everyone.  If you have an irrepairable rotator cuff tear, then conventional shoulder replacement surgery will not provide the results that you hope for.

Reversing the solution

By reversing the placement of the ball and socket, the deltoid muscles are able to provide the action needed to allow shoulder mobility without compromising shoulder stability.

Reverse shoulder replacement has been done in Europe for many years, but has only become an option for patients in the U.S. since 2004.

News Video of Reverse Shoulder Replacement Experience

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About Chris Melton

Chris Melton is an entrepreneur, blogger and one of the owners of Joint Mechanix, LLC ... the creators of the Rotater ... a rotator cuff rehab tool used by physical therapists, athletic trainers, athletes and proactive shoulder rehab patients.


  1. Tony.Melb.Aus. says:

    I have been a competitive bodybuilder for 8 yrs and am 37 y.o. I am due to have a shoulder replacement in May.There is no other choice. I do not want to give up my weightraining. I would like to know from anyone out there if weightraining and my bodybuilding is possible after my shoulder replacement. My surgeon, a top man in his field here in Australia is a nerdy skinny guy (lol), who cringes when I ask about continuing my bodybuilding,DOES NOT UNDERSTAND HOW IMPORTANT WEIGH TRAINING IS 2 ME!!!!

  2. Thanks for your question. I’m not a medical doctor, so I can’t answer. I do know an orthopedic surgeon who may be able to offer some insight. I’ll email him and see if he can give you any advice.

  3. Heavy weight lifting after shoulder replacement is not recommended. It will be likely to cause your implants to loosen or wear prematurely.

  4. I have been a weight lifter for over 25 years. I am also a physical therapist for past 20 years with years of sports training/rehab under my belt. If you have your shoulder replacement surgery and want to bodybuild, go ahead…..that is if you REALLY like having your shoulder dislocate while your benching and your weights come crashing down on your phayrnx and crushing your wind pipe. I know your “skinny” doctor cringed when you asked, but your “skinny” doctor has studied physics and mechanical engineering and knows the limitations of the human body and the current medical technology. But go ahead…dont listen to him because he’s a skinny nerdy guy. Think about it, would you rather listen to some meathead when it comes to physics and biological engineering or a skinny smart nerdy doctor…? DUH !!! Get over yourself, find a new hobby or just refine your old one. You’ll have a much better quality of life.

  5. Jim, you’re right…it’s not a good idea to continue lifting at that level. As both a weightlifter and physical therapist, what types of activities would you recommend he channel his energies into?

  6. Francis says:

    Just to chime in on the shoulder surgery thing;

    I’ve had 3 repair/clean ups of my shoulder for a bad biking accident that occurred years ago. I’m 50 now, and have extremely bad arthritis. My doc says the only thing hey can do at this point is a shoulder replacement.

    BUT, he says you cannot workout if you want to keep the shoulder for more than 5-8 years. Typically it’s geriatrics who get new shoulders, and they are content to do typical day to day stuff. Artificial shoulders will not stand up to the abuses of swimming, and weight lifting.

    I crossfit, and refuse to get a shoulder. So I modify, (my overhead lifts are really weak and painful), and focus on the things I can do. I’m in decent shape, great for my age; I wish I could jerk or that I didn’t have to pound tylenol after a workout, but we take what we can get.

    Sorry about your situation, but BB requires symmetry and overall development, which requires a lot of shoulder work. Find a way to live with the pain, and avoid the surgery if you want to stay active. Once you have an artificial joint, the clock starts on when it wears out; and you’re way too young and active to go that route. I’d take up running or cycling or crossfit and modify before I got a new shoulder.

    Goood Luck

  7. Thanks for the insight, Francis. I didn’t know the longevity of the shoulder replacement hardware…but it makes sense. Good luck and stay active!!

  8. Ironboots says:

    My age is 50.
    I lived with subluxation (partial dislocated shoulder) for 25 years before I found a doctor that had the sense to have the tech inject dye into the shoulder joint before slipping me into the MRI. The doc did surgery 7 years and did his best to put my shoulder back in place, etc. Now, the arthritis is back again with a vengence. The same doc is recommending full shoulder replacement. I asked him what the downside is……he never mentioned no weight-lifting (which I do regularly). He knew I lifted weights as part of my exercise routine. I’m glad I did my research. Thanks for the comments. I’ll live with the pain (since I did it daily for 25 years) and delay getting a full shoulder replacement.

  9. We’re glad we could help! Good luck with your shoulder!!

  10. Ric Lee says:

    I have had both my shoulder joints replaced 8 weeks apart in 2001. I did all my aftercare treatment. It was hard and it hurt like you know what. But I did return to bodybuilding. I have been a body builder for 35 years. The surgeries took place on my 53 birthday. About 3-4 months out from surgery I started again very carefully. I have gained muscle size in both my shoulders, sometimes at the expense of shoulder pain. The right shoulder was never as good as the left. I can bench, and do presses as long as I don’t overdue it, which is sometimes hard not to do. I am 63 now and refuse to shrink up into a old dude. Work the shoulders but be careful. sincerely Ric lee

  11. Hi Ric,

    Thanks for your feedback. You must have an incredible pain tolerance! Did your doctor know you were an avid bodybuilder? If so, did he try to persuade you no to lift? Did you have any complications because of lifting?

  12. Hey Ric, great story and nice post. This site is great, Ive just been told the same as Tony. Im 33, been training for 10 years competitively and after experiencing shoulder pain, seeked out an orth surgeon. I have moderate to sever full thickness cartledge loss in both shoulders, and its inevidable that i get replacements in both shoulders. Tony I hope you read this, i would like to know houw you did (I see u posted in 2009). BB is part of my life too and i also have a very cautious surgeon who condemns training post operation. He offered frequent corterzone jabs as a temp solution but this wont stop the deterioration. Its almost too easy to be told something cant be done but I know i dont want to give it up.

  13. Also sorry forgot to ask Tony which surgeon did you use ? I need a good one..

  14. I am 61 years old, and suffered a torn ritator cuff about 10 years ago during a cervical spine, (neck) surgery. I went into surgery with an intact shoulder, and was awakened by the surgeon, asking me to move my right hand and arm, which I could not. My rotator cuff was somehow torn during surgery. I had repair surgery, and of course, it has never been “right”. Now, I am facing shoulder reversal surgery, but have been told I am too young.
    Has anyone out there had this proceedure done who is in their sixties, or younger???

    thanks… karin

    ps I see a second surgeon Monday, Sept. 19th.

  15. Hi Karin,

    I’m sorry for the delay…and terribly sorry to hear about your shoulder injury. To answer, I found this “shoulder replacement” discussion thread online – – down a post # 4464688, a gentleman indicates that he’d just had reverse shoulder replacement and he is 41.

    Good Luck and please let us know how your surgery goes.

  16. I have lifted for over 35 years. Competed in BB contests and won a state title. My left soulder had to be replaced 2 and 1/2 years ago and the right one will be done this June. I still lift weights fairly hard and am doing well. I also have a hip replacement and will need the other hip done in the future. My shoulder was called a “Ream and Run” and was done at the University of Washington in Seattle, Wa. I am happy with the result.

  17. John,

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I’ve hear good things about the “Ream and Run” procedure.

  18. Amber Neva says:

    Need to heard from folks 70 or older who have had reverse shoulder replacement…Please

  19. Florece Mccoy says:

    Two years ago, at the age of 56, I had Reverse Shoulder Replacement. I have no regrets at all for opting to have such an extensive surgery. Although with the Reverse Shoulder Replacement I do not have (and will never have) full range of motion, I am so thankful for being able to have the function that have. When I lost the use of my arm due to sever RA, being a female, my main concern was combing and styling my hair. It was not a vanity thing but about being independent. I am able to do my own hair and has learned to use gravity to get my arm in places that my muscles wont take it.

  20. Hi Florence,

    Thanks for sharing your shoulder replacement story. More and more people are realizing the benefits of a shoulder replacement and it’s becoming a more popular option … especially when pain sufferers are dealing with RA.

  21. I have had a bad left shoulder for years. Started when I tore the long head of the biceps over 10 years ago. Rotator cuff is now destroyed too. MRI reveals there is nothing that can be done but a reverse shoulder replacement sometime in the future. As a lifter not looking forward to that and will ride this out as long as possible.
    Will someone come up with a viable alternative or device that is more stable and stronger then what we have today please?

  22. I am 50 and this is my second artificial shoulder, repair at 32, then at 38 which was a partial humerus replacement,at 42 fell off a truck ripping out the partial repair, so I had to have a full replacement. Complete titanium shoulder including the blade, no o-ring, just a gasket and bicep that holds everything in place. Two years ago I started weight lifting. Yes I have pushed it to the max, my current bench press is 225 to 215 on good days. however it is time for another replacement. I enjoyed the weight lifting I have done. Will I stop no they will have to remove my left arm completely which just may happen this time around, not enough bone left for the shank to seat properly. In my eye is it worth it yes, do I recommend it. NO

  23. Ray Thomas says:

    Are there any new or different types of total shoulder replacements on the market now? My Doctor wants me to have a reverse shoulder replacement but, one Dr. tells me I want be able to continue doing construction work. Another Dr. said it was what I needed to do, I’m a little confused. Are there people out there that knows about either type surgery’s.

  24. John Davis says:

    I am 70 had reverse shoulder replacement works great want to know about weight to lift with out hurting it.


  1. […] Chris Melton on December 5, 2012 Some time back, I wrote and article about Reverse Shoulder Replacement … relatively new at the time.  Now, this article – Dramatic Rise in Shoulder Arthroplasty […]

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