Everything Is Within Reach Again for Shoulder Replacement Patient
After an advanced reverse shoulder surgical procedure
“I almost can’t believe it,” Raymond Barnett, 85, of Maple Glen, says happily. “I had fallen on the ice in the winter of 2009, landing hard on my right side. My primary doctor explained that my shoulder was very bad. I had torn the rotator cuff and being right-handed, was hardly able to do anything. My doctor referred me to Dr. Craft for help.”
After several months of therapy, Ray, then 83, still had significant pain and reluctantly agreed to surgery.
Orthopaedic surgeon David Craft, M.D., director of Sports Medicine at Abington Health’s Orthopaedic & Spine Institute, performed a reverse shoulder replacement on Ray, using a revolutionary technique that reverses the order of the ball and socket of the shoulder.
Dr. Craft explains, “Ray had a shoulder cuff tear arthropathy, where the muscles had atrophied and were no longer surgically repairable. The rotator cuff holds the ball in the socket of the shoulder. When the cuff is torn, the ball floats up into the top of the shoulder, called the acromion.
“At this point, patients experience great pain and loss of function and strength, especially reaching overhead.”
With reverse shoulder replacement, orthopaedic surgeons like Dr. Craft switch the mechanics of the shoulder, which is normally a ball (the end of the upper arm bone, or humerus) and socket (the shoulder blade, or scapula). Using minimally invasive instruments, surgeons attach the ball to the shoulder blade and the socket to the top of the arm bone. Five separate components are used, and only the patient’s deltoid muscle remains. The deltoid can then be strengthened with physical therapy.
“After physical therapy,” Dr. Craft says, “patients can reach 130-140 degrees of elevation of the new shoulder. They can even start to lift weight overhead.”
Raymond says, “I have never had an operation where I awakened to no pain. I am amazed at how good I felt from the very beginning. I owe it all to Dr. Craft – he is what I call the ‘perfect gentleman’ and a phenomenal surgeon. All my doctors are at Abington, and it’s because of situations like this that I depend on them.
“Before I injured myself, I couldn’t get my arm over my head,” Raymond continues. “Now I can do virtually anything. I’m so happy with my new shoulder.”
He has just finished a three-hour stint gardening in his large front yard.
“I’m a new man,” he says enthusiastically. “I get up looking forward to each day.”