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New procedure may be better shoulder fix

November 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Rotator cuff injuries don't just happen to major league baseball players. They send five million people to the doctor every year. A new procedure may help those suffering this common injury.A bike accident left Jim Smith with a shoulder injury so painful he couldn't ride or even raise his right arm.

"I was down to practically doing nothing because whatever I did, I couldn't even trim bushes in the yard because I didn't have any control of my right arm," said Smith.

A traditional shoulder replacement failed. Then, Dr. Bryan Wall suggested a new reverse shoulder replacement procedure.

The normal ball and socket joint is replaced with implants that reverse the anatomy of the shoulder.

"So the ball is now on the shoulder blade and socket is on the arm bone," described Wall, an orthopedic Surgeon at The Core Institute Phoenix.

"The reverse shoulder replacement, what it does is it allows us to not only replace the joint that has become arthritic, but it puts the shoulder in a better mechanical position and changes the mechanics of the shoulder to allow people to elevate their arm," explained Wall.

The surgery works best for older patients who have chronic shoulder pain, longstanding rotator cuff tears and arthritis. It doesn't work for everyone, and there is a risk of patients dislocating the shoulder joint after surgery or loosening it.

"The best thing is whatever I do during the day, no matter what I do, I don't have any pain in my right arm," said Smith.

The surgery fixed Smith's shoulder so he could get back to doing his own fixing: Hitting the road to a pain-free and active retirement.

"I've worked pretty hard all my life. Now it's time to play!"


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