BACKGROUND: A new shoulder prosthesis can provide relief to those who suffer from pain and limited movement of their shoulders. The FDA has just approved the device, which has been used successfully in Europe for more than 10 years. Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, is one of the few locations performing the procedure.
ABOUT THE SHOULDER JOINT: Your shoulder consists of a ball and socket joint that fit together much like a baseball in a glove. The ball is at the head of the upper arm, and the socket is an indented area in the shoulder blade. Then there is the rotator cuff: a small group of muscles and tendons surrounding the joint. The rotator cuff helps lift and rotate the arm, as well as stabilize the ball of the shoulder in the socket. When the rotator cuff tears loose from the bone, it can severely limit the join's stability and range of motion and cause considerable pain.
HOW IT WORKS: The reverse shoulder surgery helps the artificial joint to function when there is significant bone loss, or if the rotator cuff no longer works. The prosthetic reverses the positions of the ball and socket. The normal socket is replaced with a prosthetic ball, and the upper arm is replaced with an implant that has a socket in which the ball rests. Reversing the positions prevents the prosthetic joint from dislocating and improves the function of the surrounding muscles.
WHO CAN BENEFIT: Anyone who experiences pain or limited function of the shoulder from arthritis, a rotator cuff injury, or a previous shoulder replacement. Patients who had the surgery reported significant decreases in pain and noticed marked improvements in functional arm movement. The surgery requires an overnight hospital stay, followed by six weeks with their arm in a sling, and then six weeks of physical therapy.