Medical Minute: Shoulder Surgery

A nice walk on a brisk day is nothing for Fritzie Richardson, even though she’s almost 90!

Helen "Fritzie" Richardson, 87 years old, says, “I’ve exercised pretty much all my life. I’ve swam. I’ve ridden bicycles. I’ve walked, everything.”

She’s been swimming for 82 years, but for the past two a bad shoulder has kept her in the shallow end.

“It was making me very depressed. When I couldn’t do my back stroke, you know, which means arm overhead and down, that really bothered me.”

Fritzie had a severely damaged rotator cuff caused by years of wear and tear and arthritis. Dr. Anand Murthi says standard surgery was not an option.

“When you don’t have a rotator cuff, then you have nothing to compress the ball against the socket.”

So Dr. Murthi tried something new, a reverse shoulder replacement.

“This shoulder replacement is based on using your deltoid muscle, which is the outer muscle on your shoulder, and it replaces the rotator cuff tendons.”

The deltoid muscle raises the bone up and makes the shoulder functional again.

“It’s actually miraculous the kind of results that these patients will get.

Three months after Frtizie’s surgery she was back in the pool swimming her beloved back stroke.

“No pain. Life today is good,” she says.

And Fritzie says she plans on swimming right through the next decade of her life.


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