Reverse shoulder replacement patient loses pain, regains function

March 17, 2021 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Heroes

Maria Marin could barely use her right arm.

Just brushing her teeth was an ordeal. Each time, she would have to use her left arm to raise her right arm high enough to brush her teeth. Doing her hair or makeup required the same extra effort.

The pain in her right arm was a 10 out of 10.

“She couldn’t use her arm at all,” says Marin’s surgeon, Zahab Ahsan, MD, “She was in constant pain.”

Less than three months later, the 70-year-old woman has nearly full use of her right arm thanks to a reverse shoulder replacement.

“My arm is moving more,” says Marin, adding that she can now sweep the floor slowly, wash clothes and eat using her right hand again.

“It’s been an amazing recovery,” adds her son, Marvin Marin.

Marin had been suffering knee pain and awaiting surgery for a knee replacement. But, after falling a few times, Marin hurt her right shoulder. Initial X-rays didn’t show any bone breaks, but the pain persisted and after a few months, Marin decided to seek the help of a specialist.

Ultimately, Marin learned she had damage that could not be repaired simply. Her shoulder joint had to be replaced. Due to the extent of the muscle damage, a typical shoulder replacement would not work.

She needed a reverse shoulder replacement, or reverse arthroplasty. In the procedure, the typical ball and socket structure of the shoulder is reversed.

Surgery, however, was just the first step in regaining use of her right arm.

“You have to do your part,” says Marin, who has been in physical therapy for nearly two months. “You have to do your exercises.”

Maria Marin’s physical therapy session two months after a reverse shoulder replacement.

Marin stayed with her son, who lives just a few minutes away, after surgery. After about two weeks of therapy, however, she was ready to move back to her own house, says Marvin Marin.

Marin attends physical therapy twice a week and faithfully does her exercises at home between sessions.

“Every day I feel a little better,” she says.

Dr. Ahsan and Marin’s physical therapist, Natalie Florio, PT, credit Marin’s dedication to her physical therapy for her success in recovery.

“The doctor had told my mom the surgery will take care of the pain, but at the end of the day you’re going to have to put the work in,” recalls Maria’s son, Marvin. “And that’s exactly what she’s done.”

Florio says her patient comes into each session with a positive attitude.

“She’s such a sweet lady,” says Florio. “She comes in here and she makes everyone else feel better.”

Marin will continue with her physical therapy. She also plans to eventually follow through with her knee surgery.

The orthopedic team of experts at Edward-Elmhurst Medical Groups-Orthopedics provides exceptional orthopedic, sports medicine and podiatry services for patients of all ages. We use the least invasive treatments necessary to help you get back to the activities you enjoy, as quickly as possible. Learn more.

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