New shoulder replacement techniques helps osteoarthritis patients

A new device approved last year by the FDA is helping relieve shoulder pain from osteo-arthritis. The stemless shoulder replacement prevents possible complications from older designs.

John Bowling, 63, has led an active life. But a few years ago serious shoulder pain started to interfere with his normal activities.

"It would range anywhere from 9 to 11 depending on how high I tried to raise my shoulders," Bowling said of the pain he felt.

His orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Peter Johnston, describes John’s shoulder problem.

"Osteoarthritis is basically a thinning or loss of cartilage which lines the bone and creates a smooth surface for the two bones to slide one against another. And in his case, it was completely gone," said Dr. Johnston.

John's degenerative arthritis created almost constant friction in his shoulder joints and severely limited his movement. His wife says he would sometimes scream at night in pain.

"The final straw was getting ready to go to church on a Sunday morning, and I couldn't get my arms up to pull my pants up or tuck my shirt in," says Bowling.

Dr. Johnston performed a stemless shoulder replacement using a small device approved by the FDA just last year.

Traditionally shoulder replacement uses a metal spike which can run halfway down the arm. The stemless device is an eighth of the size, fitting in the top of the arm bone. 

John had his right shoulder replaced in January, and then the left side was replaced a few months later.

"Day after surgery, doc came to see me and asked me how I was doing. And I said I’m feeling great. I can raise them all the way up, doesn't hurt and doesn't grind and no more pain," says Bowling.

His only regret is that he suffered for five years before getting help.

Generally, any patient who is a candidate for traditional total shoulder replacement is a candidate for a stemless implant. However, the best candidates are younger patients who have good quality bone to hold the stemless implant in place.

Copyright 2017 KING


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