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Believing in the truism that a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ve merged the X-rays of my left (anatomical) and right (reverse) shoulder replacements together.

right (reverse) and left (anatomical) shoulder replacements

The left/anatomical replacement is so named because it mirrors the body’s natural anatomy. There is a socket in the shoulder that a ball joint — attached to the arm — fits into.

The right/reverse replacement is just the opposite. As you can see from the picture, the ball joint attaches to the shoulder with a disk/socket attached to the arm.

And I don’t understand the technical aspects of why this is, but the primary difference between the two is that my rotator cuff on the left/anatomical side is a primary force in moving the arm/shoulder. However, on the right/reverse shoulder, the rotator cuff is basically bypassed and the deltoid muscle moves the arm. As I have had two previous rotator cuff surgeries on the right shoulder, the reverse replacement was the wiser choice. If they had done the anatomical replacement and I’d had future rotator cuff problems they very probably would not only have had to repair the rotator cuff (again), but remove the implant and do a reverse replacement anyway. Better to start there and avoid the issue altogether.

I hope whatever position your shoulders are in, that you’re both healthy and happy.