A standard shoulder replacement, a decades old treatment for severe shoulder arthritis, would likely not have worked for her due to her deficient rotator cuff. However, a recently developed – and radically different – prosthesis, called a reverse total shoulder, offered the best chance of decreasing her pain and improving shoulder function.
‘A normal shoulder is a ball-and-saucer joint, with its stability and motion governed to a large extent by the surrounding rotator cuff musculature,’ said Dr Omer Ilhai, an orthopedic surgeon at The Methodist Hospital in Houston. ‘In arthritis, the smooth cartilage overlying and cushioning the surface of the bones is worn away, leaving rough, exposed bone surfaces to rub against each other. This bone-on-bone contact is very painful and usually associated with joint stiffness.’