Avera Medical Minute AM: Patient finds relief after reverse total shoulder replacement

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If an injury or pain disrupts your everyday life, orthopedics may be your golden ticket to getting you back to doing the activities you enjoy.

Avera Orthopedics in Marshall helped one patient do just that.

Today, Aloma Coudron is pain-free in her right shoulder. But for years, she endured excruciating pain.

“The pain was – I don’t know how to explain it. It was so painful. There were times where I couldn’t sleep. I had to take the left arm to get the right arm up in order for me to put the fork to my mouth. I couldn’t even do that,” said Coudron.

Coudron decided enough was enough after five painful years and met with Avera Marshall orthopedic surgeon Dr. Alain Desy.

“They make a 3-D print with a 3-D printer of the scapula,” said Dr. Desy.

Dr. Desy performed a reverse total shoulder replacement on Coudron.

“Reverse shoulder arthroplasty is a very good surgery and type of replacement for the elderly because their rotator cuff is usually very flimsy or non-existent. And usually the damage to the bone is more severe than in a younger population,” said Dr. Desy.

The reverse total shoulder replacement relies on the deltoid muscle instead of the rotator cuff to power and position the arm.

“We put the ball, or the glenosphere, on the scapula and then we put the socket on the other side and do a mechanical leverage using only the deltoid muscle which is really strong when spared even in older people – especially when their rotator cuff is deficient,” said Dr. Desy.

“It was just a miracle. I had no pain,” said Coudron.

Coudron felt a different immediately after surgery. After three months of intense physical therapy, she do things today she couldn’t do before surgery.

“A lot of stuff. I can feed myself now and I don’t need this other arm to help me. I have absolutely no pain,” said Coudron.

“My philosophy is that when pain or the symptoms, but mainly the pain which is one of the major symptoms why people come to see us, interferes with your normal activities -- this is where you have to do something and we have to be more aggressive,” said Dr. Desy.

“I was so happy when I come back to see him that I even – I did cry because all these years I’ve suffered. And I was crying for happiness,” said Coudron.

Orthopedics specialists are available at seven Avera hospitals and over 30 outreach clinics across the upper Midwest.

For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.