The shoulder joint is similar to a ball-and-socket joint but more closely resembles a golf ball on a tee. The rotator cuff provides the stability - keeping the golf ball on the tee. During surgery, an incision is made in the front of the shoulder. Once the surgeon exposes the shoulder joint, the surgeon will remove the damaged bone and cartilage. The head of the humerus is then removed and a metal stem is placed into the humeral canal. This provides a stabilizing anchor for the new humeral head.
If the rotator cuff is no longer functioning normally, a surgeon may opt to perform a reverse total shoulder replacement. In this procedure, the anatomy of the shoulder is reversed by attaching a metal ball (glenosphere) to the glenoid and the plastic socket (humeral liner) to the upper humerus. A reverse shoulder replacement empowers the deltoid to become the main functioning muscle in the absence of a healthy rotator cuff.