Complex Shoulder Arthritis Case Results in the Less Common Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery for Patient John Pignanelli
John pictured with his wife, Fran in Colorado on a recent trip.
John Pignanelli is a 72-year-old retiree. He’s been married to his wife, Fran for almost 50 years, and they have two grown sons. John is retired and enjoys spending his time vacationing and traveling around the U.S. and abroad. He’s originally from West Virginia but relocated to Arizona seven years ago. John is a longtime patient of Dr. Brian Gruber, MD, MDA, board-certified orthopedic surgeon. He had his first successful shoulder replacement surgery on his left shoulder with Dr. Gruber, and didn’t think twice about going back to him when shoulder pain in his other shoulder became a problem, resulting in a reverse total shoulder replacement operation.
John had dealt with severe shoulder arthritis for several years. After putting up with symptoms that included pain and locking up in his shoulder for some time, John decided to return to Dr. Gruber. Dr. Gruber ran several tests that included an MRI, CAT scan and an x-ray. The test revealed “bone on bone” – essentially, John had no cartilage left in his right shoulder. “It’s rare to see a shoulder with this much damage from arthritis,” said Dr. Gruber. Following Dr. Gruber’s recommendation, John tried conservative treatments options, including shoulder injections.
When conservative treatment did not provide relief, John and Dr. Gruber discussed surgical options. John opted for the surgery Dr. Gruber recommended. “Every situation is different,” stated Dr. Gruber. “With John’s first shoulder surgery, we did a pretty straightforward shoulder replacement, and he did great. But with his right shoulder, the best option for the most optimal outcome was a reverse total shoulder replacement. John had a complex case and required extremely thorough evaluation and care.”
Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery vs. Traditional Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery
A reverse total shoulder replacement surgery is like a traditional total shoulder replacement surgery in that it involves removing the damaged shoulder bone and replacing it. A traditional total shoulder replacement surgery involves placing a plastic “cup” into the shoulder socket (glenoid) and placing a metal ball on top of the arm bone (humerus). However, a reverse total shoulder replacement surgery does just the opposite. This type of surgery works especially well for patients like John with extreme shoulder arthritis as well as a history of rotator cuff tears in his shoulder.
Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery & Recovery
This January, John had a successful reverse total shoulder replacement surgery. Following surgery, he did physical therapy in a short three-and-a-half-week timespan. John was particularly ecstatic about finishing his physical therapy program early sharing, “Dr. Gruber originally estimated I’d need to go for four to six weeks, and I finished quite a bit early.”
Since surgery and completing physical therapy, John is back to his daily activities pain-free. He joked, “My right shoulder now feels better than my left one! I may even consider having a reverse total shoulder surgery on my left side with Dr. Gruber.”
John’s Experience with Dr. Gruber and Integrated Orthopedics
John is very thankful for Dr. Gruber and his staff at Integrated Orthopedics with whom he credits his speedy recovery. John shared that in the many years he’s known Dr. Gruber, he’s always been a “methodical, personable and knowledgeable doctor.” John recommends him to anyone needing orthopedic care.
John Pignanelli pictured here in Arizona.