New device offers alternative to rotator cuff surgery

Surgery for a torn rotator cuff can be painful and lead to months of physical therapy. But a new device being tested in New York could give patients an alternative.

New York Orthopedics founder and director Doctor Stephen Nicholas showed FOX 5 NY a new, FDA-approved medical device and technique being used to repair torn rotator cuffs. 

Using the device, a saline balloon is inserted into the shoulder joint, stopping the top and bottom shoulder bones from rubbing together and causing pain. 

The Stryker's Inspace balloon implant dissolves and is absorbed by the body within 12 months. 

The procedure still requires surgery but the recovery is shorter and the results are promising so far. 

"You don't have to be in a sling for an extended period of time and the early results are the healing rates are faster," Dr. Nicholas said.

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The device is ideal for older patients who are not getting good results from traditional surgery. 

Doctor Joshua Dines practices sports medicine at the Hospital for Special Surgery. 

"People as we get older often tear their rotator cuff which is a group of muscles on the shoulder that help elevate the shoulder and elevate it we use it for everyday activities playing sports it's very important to shoulder function if it tears it can be very painful," said Doctor Joshua Dines, who practices sports medicine at the Hospital for Special Surgery.  

Dr. Dines said he's cautiously optimistic about the new technique. He says we won't know really how well it works for a few more years since it's so new. 

"For a small portion of patients, having this balloon which we didn't have before potentially becomes a good treatment option. I say potentially because for me personally, I need to see more data," Dr. Dines said.

Anyone who has had a rotator cuff tear knows firsthand how painful the injury can be as well as the surgery and months-long recovery. This is another tool for doctors they hope restores a patient's shoulder movement and relieves pain.