There are three bones that make up the shoulder: the humerus, or the upper arm bone; the scapula, or the shoulder blade; and, the clavicle, which is the collarbone. The articular cartilage, a smooth substance that protects and enables the bones to move easily, covers the surfaces of these bones and, to eliminate any friction in the shoulder, the synovial membrane, which is a thin, smooth tissue, produces a small amount of fluid that lubricates the cartilage. All these, with the tendons and muscles surrounding the shoulder and providing stability and support, enable the shoulder to rotate and move in a great range of motion – greater than any other joint (or ball-and-socket) joint in the body.
Despite all the protection and support that provide stability, certain conditions and diseases cause shoulder bone fracture, destruction of the joint cartilage or destruction of the shoulder joint, resulting to inflammation, extreme joint pain or a limited range of shoulder motion. Some of the causes resulting to these shoulder injuries include:
- Avascular necrosis. This painful condition, which can lead to arthritis, occurs due to the disruption of blood supply to the bone;
- Osteoarthritis (Degenerative Joint Disease). This “wear and tear” type of arthritis is age-related;
- Rheumatoid Arthritis. This is a chronic inflammation that can damage the cartilage, eventually causing cartilage loss, stiffness and pain;
- Post-traumatic Arthritis. Besides causing shoulder pain, this type or arthritis, which usually follows a serious shoulder injury, also limits shoulder function;
- Severe fracture of the shoulder, which shatters the head of the upper arm bone;
These causes, including Rotator Cuff Tear Arthropathy and failed previous shoulder replacement surgery or failed revision surgery, are some of the major reasons why people necessitate shoulder replacement surgery.
Doctors recommended shoulder replacement surgery to their patients only if the more conservative methods no longer work. This surgery is intended to replace damaged parts of the shoulder with artificial components (called prosthesis). Some surgeries are aimed at replacing only the ball or the head of the humerus bone, or replacing the glenoid, or the ball and the socket.
Whichever part is replaced, this surgery guarantees relief from pain, and restoration of shoulder strength, motion and function.
While there are various manufacturers of shoulder replacement devices, the ones specifically designed by Wright Medical Technology, Inc. and Tornier, Inc. have become the focus of attention due to allegations that their devices are faulty, resulting to additional injuries in patients, significant bone loss, instability, weakness, unexplained pain, rising medical expenses, plus the need for corrective surgery.
Currently, patients who experience increased shoulder pain or limited mobility following the implantation of a Wright or Tornier shoulder replacement device have filed shoulder replacement lawsuits to fight for damages from the manufacturer. Needing to undergo a revision surgery, additional treatment, as well as removing the implant altogether due to badly designed implants is simply inexcusable.