Every year, more than 53,000 people undergo shoulder replacement surgery to relieve chronic pain, pain with movement, and limited range of motion caused by various injuries or conditions including:
- Old rotator cuff injuries that gradually lead to joint cartilage damage
- Osteoarthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease, which occurs when the cartilage between the shoulder bones wears away causing the bones to rub and become stiff.
- Osteonecrosis, where the blood supply to the shoulder bones dwindles or stops causing the cells to die.
- Shoulder fractures that damage the head of the arm bone
These conditions can all impact how you perform your normal daily activities and have a negative effect on quality of life. For some people, the pain and movement issues make shoulder replacement surgery their only real option. Unfortunately, many suffer severe complications that force the patient to have the shoulder device implant removed or replaced. If you or a family member are experiencing complications with your device or you have already had revision surgery, this report will help you understand how shoulder replacements work, what happens when they go wrong, and what remedies may be available to you..
Important Warning Video
Table of Contents
How a Shoulder Replacement Works
The shoulder is made up of the humerus (upper arm bone), humeral head (ball joint), glenoid(socket), the scapula (shoulder blade) and the clavicle (collarbone). Cartilage lays between the ball and socket joint to cushion the joints as they move. Synovial membrane covers the surfaces inside the joint with a small amount of fluid that lubricates the joint to prevent friction while tendons and muscles keep the joint stable.
When the shoulder is damaged, physicians can remove and replace either just the humeral head(ball) or both the ball and the glenoid socket. Often, the ball and socket joints are removed and replaced with a new humeral head that is secured to the arm bone, and a new socket that secured to the shoulder blade. Some devices have a stem that penetrates the arm bone, while stemless and short-stem types do not require as much humerus involvement.
Are They Safe?
Having your shoulder replaced is supposed to relieve your pain and increase your range of motion. However, these are complex surgeries that require the implantation of artificial components into bone. When these shoulder surgeries fail, you may be left with:
- Component failures, fractures, and malposition
- Device failures, fractures,
- Device malpositioning
- Instability and weakness
- Loosening Device Parts
- Persistent joint stiffness and chronic pain
- Serious Bone Loss
- Shoulder Infections
Each of these conditions can cause serious pain and force you to have the device removed or replaced through a second or even multiple corrective surgeries. For some, the damage is so severe the patient is no longer a candidate for shoulder replacement. For others, undergoing revision surgery is just too risky.
Is Revision Surgery Safe?
In most cases, revision surgery is optional, meaning you can take the time to research success rates, most qualified surgeons, and best-rated devices for your situation. There are many factors your surgeon must take into consideration before attempting revision surgery too. This means that you could be left with pain and limited movement for an extended period. Be aware, many people require more than one surgical procedure to correct the bone and tissue damage left by a device failure or other complication.
Some of the most common complications include –
- Bone loss, particularly glenoid bone loss, is very difficult to reconstruct and requires bone grafts to rebuild the glenoid or a procedure called a reverse shoulder replacement to correct.
- Chronic pain, bone and muscle stiffness and pain, and shoulder weakness often caused by overstretched cartilage and excessive muscle tension due to an “overstuffed” joint.
- Component loosening, dislocation, fracture, and excessive wear requiring removal of the device and possible corrective surgery before a new device can be implanted
- Shoulder joint replacement infections that require antibiotics, surgery, and even removal of the prosthetic device.
Safety and Efficacy
A few recent studies have analyzed shoulder replacement devices, finding that short- stem and stemless devices are being used more often than traditional devices. Several different manufacturers are currently making these types of devices including –
Unfortunately, because these devices are so new to the market most are either still undergoing clinical evaluation or the safety and efficacy findings have yet to be published.
However, a short-term follow-up study published in the Journal of Shoulder & Elbow Surgery in February 2016 found short-stem replacement devices had a higher rate of failure in these devices over traditional devices. In fact, researchers examined three years of data for patients who had total shoulder replacements and found that these devices had a high percentage of tissue voids and bone loss and a higher overall rate of device loosening and revision surgery. Science has yet to determine the exact cause of these issues.
If you or a family member have had a shoulder replacement and are experiencing complications, you don’t need a scientific study to tell you that these devices may fail early, cause infection, nerve injury, or bone loss. You already know. You and the hundreds of shoulder recipients and their physicians that have reported adverse events to the FDA over some stemless and short-stem shoulder replacement devices. These adverse events include bad positioning, device dislocation, infections, device loosening, instability, and component erosion. Many of these events caused injury to the recipient, forcing them to undergo revision surgery or removal of the device (device explant)..
How We Can Help
Our firm believes that shoulder replacement device manufacturers must be held accountable for their dangerous products.
Each device maker had a legal duty to conduct research and clinical testing to determine the potential risks of their product. Instead, some of them promoted their products and safe and effective shoulder replacements and didn’t warn recipients about the risks of complications and physical injury.
We believe that each of these manufacturers must be held responsible for their products and the best way to do that is through the court system.
Some of those who have been hurt by a shoulder replacement device have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers claiming that these short-stem and stemless devices are defective, causing them to fracture, loosen, slide out of position, or otherwise fail.
In the most recent development in these cases, Biomet (now joined with Zimmer) settled a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado by a man who had both shoulders replaced. Within a few years of implantation, catastrophic failures occurred in both shoulder devices, forcing the man to undergo revision surgery to have both devices removed and replaced. That case was scheduled to go to trial on February 29, 2016, however, the case was settled for $350,000 on February 4.
Our firm holds product makers responsible for the injuries their products cause, and we will fight using every means available under the law to ensure your rights are protected and that you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Depending on the specifics of your case, you may be able to seek compensation for –
- Past and future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
If you had a shoulder replacement and your physician has noted bone loss, or you need corrective revision surgery, call us today. We are fearless advocates for the rights of those harmed by medical devices, and we stand ready to fight for you.
Texas native Attorney Adam Pulaski has spent decades fighting for the rights of persons harmed by the negligence of others. Representing clients in all 50 states, Adam uses his experience and knowledge to advocate for those harmed by the negligence of others and has resolved thousands of cases by relentlessly pursuing his cause using any means available through the court system.
Adam successfully negotiated the premier national round II opt-out Fen-Phen Diet Drug Litigation settlements. He was instrumental in facilitating the recall of over 4 million Bumbo baby seats and continues to represent the families of infants who suffered skull fractures and other serious injuries from these dangerous products.
Countless people have turned to Adam’s for representation in mass tort litigation including Zyprexa, Vioxx, and Guidant Defibrillator mass tort litigation, and in pharmaceutical litigation involving Amiodarone, Nexium and Prilosec, Risperdal, Avelox and Levaquin, and the IVC Filter.
Adam is standing with farmers across the heartland as they battle against Syngenta GMO corn, and is fighting with those victimized by the greed of Volkswagen and General Motors seeking compensation for fraudulent software and dangerous airbags. Call now for your free, confidential case evaluation.
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