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Most shoulder replacement patients return to sports

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New research shows that nearly all recreational athletes who have total shoulder replacement surgery are able to return to sporting activity.

The study, presented at last week’s annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), found that 96.4% of recreational athletes, aged 55 and younger, who underwent total shoulder replacement surgery returned to at least one sport, on average, within seven months of surgery.

Researchers conducted a retrospective review of 61 patients aged 25 to 55 who underwent a total shoulder replacement. The average age at the time of surgery was 48.9 years, and most of the shoulder damage (80.3%) was caused by osteoarthritis. Some 68% of patients said they hoped to return to sports following surgery.

The study showed that more than 90% of patients returned to a high-demand sport and 83.8% returned to a sport that required high use of the arms and shoulders. The rates of return to sports included: fitness sports (97.2%), golf (93.3%), singles tennis (87.5%), swimming (87.5%), basketball (75%) and flag football (66.7%).

There was no significant difference in the rate of return to sport by body mass index, sex, age, preoperative diagnosis, revision status and/or dominant extremity.

The findings demonstrate that total shoulder arthroplasty may be a good option in younger patients who are indicated for a shoulder replacement, said study author Dr Grant Garcia, an orthopaedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

A separate study, also presented at the AAOS annual meeting, found that age is not a noticeable factor in the success of shoulder replacement surgery.

The prospective study of 365 patients revealed that, while younger patients had better function and range of motion before surgery, older patients saw more improvement in their shoulder function after surgery. Younger patients also had a higher complication rate.

The researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit theorise that the older patients had greater improvement simply because they had worse shoulder function before surgery.

Nearly all shoulder replacement patients under age 55 return to sports