PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new way to fix shoulders is being called a game changer, and it’s a little balloon that is delivering big results.

Millions of people suffer from torn rotator cuffs. Surgery to repair them can be a painful ordeal that doesn’t always work. Now, there’s a new U.S. Food and Drug Administration-cleared alternative.

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“It’s not a problem working it,” Paul Hamm said.

Hamm had a severely torn rotator cuff, normally doing this — moving his arm freely without pain would be impossible.

“It’s really excruciating,” he said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Hamm has had a series of shoulder operations. This time, instead of the standard repair surgery, he was eager to try something brand new.

“Paul was the first patient in the United States implanted with the InSpace device,” Dr. Joseph Abboud said.

Abboud, with Rothman Orthopedics, can now fix severely torn rotator cuff tendons not just with the traditional sutures but with a balloon instead.

“I was blown away by how simple the product was,” Abboud said. “I would say this is one of the landmark innovations that has happened in the last 10 years.”

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Abboud says the balloon that takes 10 minutes to place arthroscopically cushions bones in the shoulder.

“Some of the best ideas are the simplest ideas,” Abboud said.

The balloon that’s inflated with saline dissolves over time as the patient rehabilitates the shoulder.

“It creates the ability for the body to compensate for the deficiency in the rotator cuff,” Abboud said.

For Hamm, who’s 63 and an avid golfer, he’s back to lifting weights.

“It’s literally no pain,” Hamm said.

The InSpace arthroscopic treatment that’s FDA-cleared can only be used for certain patients, but Abboud says there’s now an alternative to surgery that’s quick, easy and painless.

“This new technology has the potential to revolutionize the care of patients with shoulder problems,” Abboud said.

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Rothman now has six patients that have been successfully treated with the InSpace balloon.

Stephanie Stahl