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Reverse Shoulder Replacement Can Help South Floridians Shrug Off Their Shoulder Problems during May, National Arthritis Month (and throughout the year)

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Fort Lauderdale Orthopedic Surgeon Jonathan Levy, MD, leading expert in reverse shoulder replacement

The Reverse Shoulder Replacement, an exciting breakthrough in shoulder surgery, is a relatively new treatment option that has revolutionized the management of shoulder arthritis and rotator cuff dysfunction. It is now considered the treatment of choice for many once complex shoulder problems.

However, few surgeons in South Florida specialize in the procedure - and only one is considered the foremost expert.

Dr. Jonathan Levy of the Holy Cross Hospital Orthopedic Institute in Fort Lauderdale, has the greatest experience with the Reverse Shoulder Replacement in the South Florida area, and has published 16 peer-reviewed papers on the topic in the last 3 years. An expert surgeon, Dr. Levy is involved in national and international surgeon training for this procedure, and has been on the cutting-edge of research and development of the next generation of shoulder replacement devices. A member of the Holy Cross Medical Group, Dr. Levy is the only fellowship trained shoulder surgeon in Broward County who practices exclusively shoulder and elbow surgery.

Previously, there were limited surgical options for those who suffer from the combination of shoulder arthritis and rotator cuff dysfunction. Patients were offered procedures that were unreliable in achieving and maintaining pain relief and functional improvement. The Reverse Shoulder Replacement has been used successfully in Europe for over 10 years, and in 2004 was approved for use in the United States. Recent reports1 have now shown patient satisfaction ratings of 94% using the Reverse Shoulder Replacement.

Rose Poplowsky and Charles Porter are among those satisfied patients.

"Dr. Levy was my fifth doctor," said Poplowsky, 81, of Pompano Beach. "It started where my shoulder was hurting for a few years. I went to different doctors, I went to therapy a couple times; it did no good. It kept hurting. I could not lift my arm...I could not set my own hair."

After seeing Dr. Levy, Poplowski underwent a reverse shoulder replacement in November 2006.

"I've since sent many people to Dr. Levy," she said. "I can stretch my arms all the way up, put my apron over my head. I can do just about anything. I can reach and wash windows if I had to."

Porter, also 81, underwent surgery in February, and is looking forward to easing back into his golf game.

"Over the years, my right shoulder had problems with the rotator cuff from playing tennis," said Porter, a Fort Lauderdale resident. "I finally quit, but continued to play golf. Then, all of a sudden, I could hardly lift the right arm. My primary care physician told me to get in touch with Dr. Levy. She told me he was the expert on shoulder work. I have no pain any more and will start regular therapy to regain the full range of motion. I can work the arm pretty well. Most importantly, the pain is absolutely gone."

The rotator cuff is a key stabilizer of the shoulder. When the rotator cuff has lost function (due to a massive rotator cuff tear, previous surgery, or a previous fracture), it can become extremely difficult to lift the arm without pain. In many of these cases, shoulder arthritis develops. Once the combination of severe rotator cuff dysfunction and arthritis is present, the Reverse Shoulder

Replacement becomes an option. This procedure is also used in revision surgery, after failed shoulder replacement and shoulder fractures.

The Reverse Shoulder Replacement differs from a traditional Total Shoulder Replacement in that the ball and socket are reversed. The ball (glenosphere) is placed onto the glenoid (socket), and the socket is placed on the ball (humerus). The Reverse Shoulder Replacement provides the additional shoulder stability needed when the rotator cuff is not functional. Once the shoulder regains stability, improvements are seen in both pain relief and shoulder function without the need of the rotator cuff.

"If the rotator cuff is functioning properly, you do not need a Reverse Shoulder Replacement," explains Dr. Levy. "Your function will be much better with a Total Shoulder Replacement, as normal anatomy is reconstructed. The Reverse Shoulder Replacement is used only when the rotator cuff cannot be reconstructed.

"Dramatic improvements have been seen in pain relief, range of motion, and ability to perform daily activities such as eating, drinking and grooming," Dr. Levy adds. "The return of independence is probably the key benefit that patients experience, as they are able to regain function and use of the arm."

Dr. Levy joined the Orthopedic Institute at Holy Cross with a subspecialty interest in shoulder and elbow disorders. With expertise in arthroscopic and complex shoulder and elbow reconstruction, he utilizes state-of-the art surgical techniques and the latest technologies to treat the entire spectrum of shoulder and elbow injuries and problems.

Dr. Levy attended Northwestern University for both undergraduate studies and medical school, as part of the accelerated 7-year medical program - the Honors Program in Medical Education. As an undergraduate, he graduated cum laude with honors, and in medical school, was invited into the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha honor society. Dr. Levy completed his residency training at Jackson Memorial Hospital - University of Miami. After residency he completed a shoulder and elbow fellowship with Mark Frankle in Tampa, and was a visiting clinician with the Mayo Clinic elbow service in Rochester, Minnesota.

Individuals experiencing chronic shoulder pain who have been advised that surgery is not an option may be candidates for the reverse shoulder replacement. Visit www.holy-cross.com or contact Dr. Levy at 954-958-4800 for more information.

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