Arlington, Va. (WUSA9) - Knee and hip replacements are very common but new shoulders are the fastest growing form of bionic joints.
No matter the weather, or the season, you can catch Al Grossi and Dennis Hill, duking it out on the tennis courts of Arlington.
Grossi says, "It's just a fun sport that I played from right after high school."
Hill says, "Al and I like to play and we get a lot of enjoyment, not only the exercise but competition is very intense at times."
They both played tennis for over 60 years and even won medals, but they suffered major shoulder issues over time. Al had osteroarhritis in his right shoulder, Dennis had a tear in his left rotator cuff.
Hill says, "It's just too much pain."
Grossi says, "It got to a point where I could hardly lift it. So Dr. Lovallo, I went to him and he said that I needed a shoulder replacement."
Al never heard of a replacing an entire shoulder.
"Quite frankly, no one could refer me to anyone that had a shoulder replaced that played tennis," adds Grossi.
Dr. Jeffrey Lovallo of Inova Alexandria Hospital says,"In the last 10 years, the results of shoulder replacements have been phenomenal."
Dr. Lovallo says, "At 3 months I tell people you can do whatever you want. Whether it's golf, tennis, whatever you wanna do. The amount of shoulders is the fastest growing joint replacement in the medicare population."
A shoulder replacement surgery takes about an hour. During the procedure, the end of the upper arm and shoulder bone are replaced. They are capped with metal and plastic surfaces.
Al got a new shoulder 3 years ago.
Grossi says, "Yeah, I couldn't lift it further than this, (lifts arm halfway) but within days after the surgery, I was able to just lift it straight up (lifts arms straight up), and that just amazed me."
Afterwards, he mentioned the procedure to Dennis who got his shoulder replaced by the same doctor.
Hill says, "He told me after a year and a half I would have more mobility than ever before, so I said, 'that's what I want,' LOL."
"It works as good as it ever did... the bionic man lives, here I am," says Grossi.
Shoulder replacements are only recommended when other therapies like heat and cortizone injections have no effect. The new shoulder is expected to last 20 to 30 years.