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New Shoulder Surgery Option: Fewer Complications, Faster Recovery

Once Jerry Tobin could no longer enjoy his hobbies because of pain in his shoulders, he went to his primary care physician for help and received physical therapy to ease the pain.

Over time, the pain became so severe that he could barely raise his arms to put on a jacket. That’s when he turned to orthopedic surgeon, John Uribe, M.D., [1] chief medical executive at Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute. [2] After performing x-rays and tests on Mr. Tobin, Dr. Uribe concluded that he had advanced osteoarthritis in both shoulders and surgery was the best course of treatment.

(Watch Now: The Baptist Health News Team hears from patient Jerry Tobin and John Uribe, M.D, chief medical executive at Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute. Video by Steve Pipho.)

“There are many reasons for shoulder pain,” says Dr. Uribe. “However, the main causes are compression injuries, loss of cartilage, some sort of tendon injury or inflammation from overuse. If the pain doesn’t go away with rest, meaning avoid heavy lifting, overhead activities or repetitive motion activities, then that’s when you should follow up with your doctor to begin the workup.” 

When surgery is deemed necessary to treat shoulder pain, as in Mr. Tobin’s case, the typical course of treatment is a standard total shoulder replacement. However, as a result of advances in orthopedic medicine, Dr. Uribe has pioneered a new type of shoulder surgery called humeral head resurfacing with an inlay glenoid. “Compared to the standard total shoulder replacement, the new procedure comes with many benefits,” he says.

A standard total shoulder replacement is highly invasive and requires a hospital stay. There is usually excessive bleeding during surgery as well. In fact, about 20 percent of standard replacements require a blood transfusion. The new procedure is minimally invasive, much less painful and performed on an outpatient basis. The possibility of intraoperative complications is reduced, says Dr. Uribe.

“The main goal of orthopedic surgery is to reproduce the anatomy” and with this surgery that is possible, says Dr. Uribe.

During the new procedure, the surgeon removes all the bone spurs and the joint is rounded and smoothed.  Then, a cobalt chrome surface is placed over it to preserve the newly-surfaced joint. In the connecting socket, an inlay is made and polyethylene surface is laid on top. The “new” head and socket replicate the body’s natural anatomy. 

After the procedure, physical therapy is highly recommended, especially for individuals who have had osteoarthritis and haven’t been able to move the shoulder naturally for a number of years, as was the case with Mr. Tobin. Instead of the shoulder muscles performing the motion, the shoulder blade has compensated for the movement. And over time, the shoulder muscles have decreased in size due to inactivity and therefore need to be retrained to function normally again.

Mr. Tobin says that Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute provided “by far the best experience in terms of treatment and responsiveness to any concerns I had.”