• Shoulder replacement patient shows mobility

Tinley Woman’s “Luck” Changes Following Shoulder Surgery

JoAnn Staulcup of Tinley Park experienced anything but the “luck of the Irish” last March 17, when she fell and shattered her left shoulder running a simple errand.

The 73-year-old mother of two was leaving a local vacuum store on St. Patrick’s Day when she tripped on a parking block and went down hard.

Thankfully, two men saw her fall and came to her aid. Momentarily stunned, JoAnn insisted she was okay. “I’m a strong, stubborn person,” she explains with a laugh. She even drove herself home.

But once inside, she realized something was very wrong. “My pain was about a 10,” she recalls. “I thought I had dislocated my shoulder.” She quickly called a friend who took her to Ingalls Urgent Aid in Tinley Park.

JoAnn’s family doctor Ganapathi Gottumukkala, M.D., also has an office in Tinley Park, and his office manager saw JoAnn sitting in the waiting room. When she asked JoAnn what was wrong, she brought her in to see Dr. Gottumukkala, who ordered an X-ray. The news wasn’t good; JoAnn’s shoulder was seriously damaged and would require surgery to repair it.

That’s when JoAnn’s luck began to change for the better. Dr. Gottumukkala made a quick call to orthopedic surgeon and shoulder specialist Venkat Seshadri, M.D., who happened to be having lunch just 10 minutes away. Dr. Seshadri drove straight to Ingalls in Tinley Park, ordered more X-rays and scheduled JoAnn’s surgery for just two days later at the Ingalls Advanced Orthopedic Institute.

“It all worked out so beautifully because I wouldn’t have known whom to call,” she said.

The surgery Dr. Seshadri performed wasn’t a typical shoulder replacement; JoAnn’s shoulder was too damaged for that. Instead, he did a “reverse” shoulder replacement.

“A conventional shoulder replacement device mimics the normal anatomy of the shoulder: a plastic cup is fitted into the shoulder socket (glenoid), and a metal ball is attached to the top of the upper arm bone (humerus),” Dr. Seshadri explained. “In a reverse total shoulder replacement, the socket and metal ball are switched. The metal ball is fixed to the socket and the plastic cup is fixed to the upper end of the humerus.”

A reverse total shoulder replacement works better for people with completely torn rotator cuffs with severe arm weakness.

In a healthy shoulder, the rotator cuff muscles help position and power the arm during range of motion. A conventional replacement device also uses the rotator cuff muscles to function properly.

“In a patient like Mrs. Staulcup who had suffered major shoulder damage, these muscles no longer function,” he added. “A conventional total shoulder replacement can still leave them with pain. They may also be unable to lift their arm up past a 90-degree angle, which can be severely debilitating.”

The reverse total shoulder replacement relies on the deltoid muscle, instead of the rotator cuff, to power and position the arm.

JoAnn had surgery on March 19, and despite the extent of her injury, she went home the very next day. With her shoulder out of commission, JoAnn’s adult son stayed with her for a month while she recovered.

Following extensive physical therapy and recuperation, JoAnn regained complete use of her shoulder and is able to lift her arm above her head without problems – something that definitely comes in handy for water aerobics three days a week! To this day, she faithfully exercises her shoulder at home for optimum strength.

“I can do everything that I have to do – including vacuuming, which started this whole thing in the first place,” JoAnn adds with a smile. “I’m so grateful to Dr. Seshadri for putting my shoulder back together, and to Dr. Gottumukkala for referring me!”

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