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Once a gifted athlete, Elaine Gleason never imagined that osteoarthritis would prevent her from playing tennis. But it did. Over the last several years, debilitating shoulder pain kept the 59-year-old Clifton resident away from the courts and many other favorite activities, from exercising to socializing with friends. Eventually the pain interfered with simple, everyday tasks – despite medication, physical therapy and other failed treatments, prompting Gleason to undergo shoulder replacement surgery at Chilton’s Total Joint Center.A few months later, she is amazed by the results.“All I can say is ‘wow’… I’m so glad I did it,” she stated. The procedure has already restored far more than her shoulder’s strength, mobility and function. For the first time in years, Gleason is enjoying an active, pain-free life.According to Robert A. Kayal, MD, FAAOS, orthopedic surgeon at Chilton Medical Center, shoulder joint replacement is less common than knee and hip replacements, accounting for about 53,000 of the more than 1 million joint replacements performed in the United States each year. Nevertheless, it is equally effective. “Shoulder replacement offers an excellent, highly successful treatment option for patients suffering from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, shoulder fractures or other medical conditions that cause severe joint pain or disability,” he stated.The shoulder is a large ball and socket joint comprised of three major bones – the upper arm bone, the shoulder blade and the collarbone – as well as connective tissues that support the joint and allow movement. When any of those parts are damaged, the shoulder does not work properly, and the impact can be devastating.Gleason’s degenerative joint disease wore away the joint’s protective cartilage, causing her bones to rub against one another. As a result, the joint became stiff and her pain worsened over time. Once she reached the point where nothing relieved her symptoms, she was an ideal candidate for total shoulder joint replacement.During this safe, outpatient procedure, an orthopedic surgeon replaces the faulty joint – or just the damaged parts – with artificial components that work better. In Gleason’s case, Dr. Kayal removed the diseased cartilage as well as some of the bone from her arm socket and the top of the upper arm bone. He then smoothed the surfaces and inserted a polished metal ball and plastic socket, allowing the new and improved joint to move freely.Gleason’s shoulder joint replacement was performed at Chilton’s Total Joint Center, a program nationally recognized by HealthGrades, Castle Connolly and the Joint Commission for quality of care. “I was surprised when Dr. Kayal recommended Chilton, because it’s not the closest hospital for me,” admitted Gleason. “But I was very impressed. Everyone went above and beyond… they were caring, professional, respectful and couldn’t do enough for me.”Shoulder joint replacement requires about four to six months of recovery, though most patients will see results rather quickly. Gleason went home the same day as her surgery and was back at work four days later. “Within a week the arthritis pain was gone. I can already do things that I couldn’t do before, like lifting light weights and carrying groceries,” she said. Now in her third phase of physical therapy, Gleason has her sights on higher goals – like getting back on the tennis courts.“I’m glad I was able to have the Chilton experience, and very thankful to Dr. Kayal and the entire medical team,” added Gleason. “If I need a hospital in the future, I’d go back to Chilton in a heartbeat.”