03 April 2018
After 30 years as a ‘Knight of the Road’ carrying out running repairs for thousands of motorists, Ray Cutler found he was in need of a ‘bit of bodywork’ himself.
Endless hours lying under cars in all kinds of weather as an RAC Patrolman, meant that the 60-year-old granddad developed osteoarthritis in his left shoulder to an extent where he couldn’t even lift his arm high enough to wash his hair.
When it was decided that Ray, who lives in Hollywood, Birmingham with wife Kerry, was in need of a ‘spare part’ to get him back in full working order, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Madhur Shrivastava who holds regular clinics at Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull, Birmingham, opted for a shoulder replacement made of pyrocarbon instead of the more traditional biomaterials like cobalt-chrome, alloy or titanium.
Mr Shrivastava explained: “The advantage is that pyrocarbon can ‘give a little’ when force is applied. It has excellent ‘biocompatibility’ - an elasticity which provides for a more natural fit with the remaining bone and cartilage.
“If the material used is too hard it can cause undue stress load on the natural bone and lead to premature ageing and fracturing. If it is too soft it can lead to deformation of the implant, excessive wear and the need for revision at a later date.
“A partial replacement using a pyrocarbon head, as in this case, means significantly less stress on the cartilage, meaning it will last longer - making it a valuable treatment option for younger patients”.
For months before the operation, Ray, still on the road but now working as a deliveryman, said he was struggling to do everyday tasks because of the pain in his shoulder, while a good night’s sleep was almost impossible.
“I think all those years mending cars at the side of the road whatever the weather might have helped ‘wear out’ my shoulder and bring on the osteoarthritis. I knew I was young to need a shoulder replacement but it got to the stage where I was taking pain-killers every day with little relief.
“Mr Shrivastava told me the pyrocarbon head was particularly long-lasting and so suited to a man of my age,” he said.
The day after surgery Ray was released from hospital and two weeks later was attending physiotherapy sessions as he built up his muscle strength.
“I now have almost total movement of my arm and, best of all, I have no pain. I can’t tell you how good it is to enjoy a full night’s sleep,” he added.
Q: How quickly could I have a consultation, and how much would it cost?
A: It depends on the availability of the consultant you wanted to see, but we pride ourselves on getting you fast access to diagnosis and you can often get a consultation within 24/48 hours. Initial consultation fees vary by consultant, but between £175-£250 is a reasonable guide.
Q: If I need surgery, how quickly could I have it?
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Ray pictured with his two-year-old grand-daughter Olivia.