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Reverse Shoulder Replacement

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Millions of Americans have shoulder pain. Now a revolutionary procedure is drastically changing lives. 3 On Your Side Medical Reporter Stephanie Stahl shows you the results.

Joan Kahn is a busy designer, world traveler, and tennis player, and after years of wear and tear, her right shoulder was shot.

“I could only take my arm up this high. In front, I couldn’t raise it any higher than this. It just always, always ached,” said Joan.

Her rotator cuff was too damaged to repair. Her only hope was a revolutionary operation.

“Prior to this procedure patients would be told you have a horrible problem. I feel badly for you, but there’s nothing we can really do,” said Dr. Larry Miller, Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery at Cooper University Hospital. He says when the rotator cuff is damaged, the arm and shoulder become mis-aligned.

Dr. Miller showed Stephanie a shoulder model and described what happens when someone has a severely damaged rotator cuff, “This ball rides up all the way up and jams under this bone here, so the arm can’t move at all.”

To fix that, he’s doing something called a reverse shoulder replacement.

Normally the ball of the shoulder joint is on the arm bone. During the surgery, that is turned into the socket, and an artificial ball is attached to the shoulder blade.

“We put a socket where the ball was. We put a ball where the socket was. We now create a new joint, which will then re-establish the mechanical advantage to the muscle remaining, which is the deltoid muscle, can now better lift the arm,” said Dr. Miller.

Now that Joan has her new reversed shoulder, the 69-year-old is pain free, with a full range of motion, able to move and lift her arm easily.

“It’s really wonderful. I don’t know what I would have done if this procedure were not offered. I really don’t,” said Joan.

She was in the hospital for two days after the surgery. It takes about six months of rehab to completely recover.

RELATED LINK:

Cooper Bone & Joint Institute

Reported By: Stephanie Stahl

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