This is by far the most common question that patients ask me when discussing a potential shoulder replacement. The answer is actually pretty straightforward. The failure rate for shoulder replacements is approximately 1% per year. This means that 10% will fail within 10 years, 20% within 20 years, and so on.
The failure rate for a reverse shoulder replacement and anatomic shoulder replacment are very similar. This is good news for reverse patients, because when these devices were first introduced there was concern that they may not last long term, but research has shown us that the reverses fair just as well as a standard replacement.
In most cases shoulder replacements fail by simply "wearing out". The plastic liner on the socket crack over time or come loose. When I discuss this with my patients, I explain that joint replacements are metal and plastic, mechanical devices and over time they wear out just like your car parts would.
If you want to prolong the lifespan of your shoulder replacement I have two simple pieces of advice: 1. Go easy on it. In general shoulder replacements are not meant for heavy duty, repetitive lifting. Shoulder replacement patients should not lift more than 40lbs with the operated arm on a regular basis. 2.Choose a surgeon that has experience. There has been a large amount of research showing that better outcomes are obtained by surgeons with a high level of experience in shoulder arthroplasty.