I am 34-years old and a semi-professional golfer. I had an operation done for my right shoulder called a partial resuracing. I'm slowly getting back into shape. My biggest fear is that if I overdo it, the implant will break or get used up too fast. How can I get past this hurdle and back into full swing, so-to-speak?
Joint resurfacing has made it possible for younger, more active adults to avoid removing bone and replacing the joint. Instead, the surface of the bone is smoothed over and capped with a smooth, round metal piece called an implant.
Surgeons have several implant designs to choose from when performing a shoulder resurfacing procedure. The implants are made of cobalt-chromium or titanium-alloy. Some have a ceramic surface coating. Others provide a titanium porous (with holes) coating on the undersurface where the implant rests against the bone. The advantage of a porous surface is that the body can fill in the holes with bone to help cement the implant-joint interface together.
Early shoulder resurfacing implants had problems with loosening. Changes in the design seem to have helped reduce this problem. A recent development in shoulder resurfacing is the use of an implant that looks like a giant screw. This method allows for partial resurfacing of the humeral head (round ball at the top of the upper arm). It is used for patients who have smaller defects in the humeral head but don't really need the entire surface smoothed and capped.
Whether the patient receives a full or partial resurfacing, it's fairly common for patients to reduce their level of activity. They are afraid that too much activity will dislodge, break, or wear out the implant.
The truth is, we really don't know yet how long these implants last in the long-run. Only short-term results are available for this treatment approach. Those results are very positive with 90 per cent of all patients reporting satisfaction with the results.
Your surgeon is the best one to advise you on this. Factors such as your current (and intended) level of activity, amount of damage to the nearby muscles, and presence of any arthritic changes must all be taken into consiederation. A good post-operative rehab program with sports specific exercises may be helpful.
Derrick L. Burgess, MD, et al. Shoulder Resurfacing. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. May 2009. Vol. 91. No. 5. Pp. 1228-1238.
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