Shouldering a Replacement

Rancher Ready for Total Replacement

Rancher Duncan McCormack III of Rio Vista, 65, knows a thing or two about joint replacement. In the past few years he has undergone a hip replacement, knee replacement, and is currently recovering from his second shoulder replacement surgery.

More than 53,000 people undergo shoulder replacement surgeries each year in the United States. Most patients experience decreased shoulder pain and improved shoulder function, including range of motion, once they recover.

Like the hip joint, the shoulder joint is comprised of a ball and socket. During surgery, the damaged portions of the joint are replaced with artificial materials. Duncan had his right shoulder replaced two and a half years ago to correct the damage from a past sports injury.

Still, a lifetime of ranching can take its toll. Duncan was born on the family ranch and working sheep and cattle is in his blood. He and his wife Julie raised two children on the ranch and he has no plans to retire or ever give up a life on horseback.

So when the pain in his left shoulder started to keep him from doing the activities he loved, he returned to orthopedic surgeon Robert Peterson, M.D., of NorthBay Medical Group in Vacaville.

“Dr. Peterson performed my right shoulder replacement and it came out wonderful,” Duncan said. “I was fully recovered in three months.”

As this year began, his left shoulder became so painful he couldn’t comb his hair or even tuck in his shirt. In February, he was scheduled for a total shoulder replacement at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital.

“Dr. Peterson’s staff prepared me well and I knew exactly what to expect,” Duncan said. “My hospital stay was brief, with surgery on Monday and discharge on Tuesday evening.”

And this time, he was in for a surprise—he only needed a partial joint replacement. “When Dr. Peterson started the surgery, he discovered that my socket (the part of the joint that includes the shoulder blade) was healthy. So he did a little ‘spring cleaning’ inside the socket and only replaced the ball of the joint.”

Unlike knee surgery, where you are up and walking the next day, shoulder replacement requires 30 days of rest and healing before rehabilitation begins. At first Duncan wore a sling to immobilize his shoulder, but after a few days felt comfortable enough to let his arm hang at his side.

Improving his range of motion was the focus when his rehabilitation began. By the end of April, Duncan was immersed in shearing sheep and weaning lambs. He could not be happier. “Everything about VacaValley Hospital exceeded my expectations,” Duncan said. “My compliments go to the entire organization. They improved my quality of life immensely.”

A Range of Options

Total: This surgery replaces the original ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder with similarly shaped prosthetics.

Reverse: During reverse shoulder replacement the surgeon switches, or reverses, the positions of the shoulder joint’s ball and socket. This surgery is an option for people whose damaged rotator cuffs make them ineligible for traditional shoulder replacement.

Partial: A partial shoulder replacement involves removing the arm’s humeral head and replacing it with a prosthetic ball while keeping the joint’s natural socket.

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