When To Get Shoulder Surgery

Shoulder surgery is a last option, but one which many thousands of people in Southern California opt for each year. The reason is simple: not every type of shoulder pain goes away on its own, and there are limits to what painkillers and analgesics can do.

Shoulder pain can arise for any number of reasons, from injury to bursitis to arthritis. Some of these issues are likely to heal over time, while others may involve lasting wear and tear whose effects are more or less permanent – and unrelenting:

Mild cases of shoulder pain can often be effectively treated conservatively, with options including rest, physical therapy, corticosteroid injections and anti-inflammatory medication. If conservative strategies fail, then surgery may be an option.

Shoulder surgery can take many forms, depending on the needs of each individual patient. At my San Diego orthopedic surgery offices, we take the time to review a full history and draw up a surgical plan that suits your lifestyle and medical history, and has the greatest chance of success. The results may be slow to appear, but they are also long lasting: shoulder surgery is a permanent fix for a wide array of common complaints.

How Does Rotator Cuff Surgery Work?

Your rotator cuff is a collection of four muscles that work in tandem to provide your shoulder its full range of motion. When one or more of these muscles suffers an injury, it can destabilize the entire system, leading to further injury – and, eventually, pain and restricted motion.

Rotator cuff surgery is designed to repair these muscles by resolving any torn connections between muscle and bone:

For a full rotator cuff tear, surgery is likely the only option to return your shoulder to normal function. An orthopedic surgeon will essentially re-attach your rotator cuff to the bone (humeral head) using an arthroscopic procedure that places three small holes in your arm.

This procedure has been around for quite some time, and offers a strong prognosis for full recovery provided that the patient has enough time to rest and heal. Physical therapy is paramount when it comes to rehabilitation from rotator cuff surgery, a process which can take several months. The good news is that many patients and athletes return to an active lifestyle once recovery is complete.

My San Diego shoulder surgery team offers the industry standard in diagnosis, planning, execution and aftercare of shoulder injuries. To learn more, please contact us here for an appointment.

Ask a San Diego Orthopedic Surgeon: How to Beat Shoulder Pain?

One of the most common questions we hear from patients is a simple one: How can I relieve chronic shoulder pain? Below, we have included a few short answers which might be helpful.

1. The first answer is also the easiest: rest. Many shoulder symptoms happen because of stress or strain to the tendons and ligaments of the shoulder. Your body’s natural healing processes should kick in if given a chance, so try taking several days off of heavy exercise and lifting, and icing the shoulder when it becomes inflamed.

2. Analgesics. Injuries such as rotator cuff disorders and tears, as well as shoulder instability and frozen shoulder, tend to produce acute pain that isn’t helping you get better. There is no shame in seeking out painkillers for this issue, either in the form of NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, or prescription pain medications. Of course, these tend to be stopgap approaches; read on for a more permanent fix.

3. Steroids. Corticosteroids can quickly relieve severe pain, but there’s a catch: many tissues in the body react adversely to too many steroid injections over time. Again, these powerful medication represent an effective treatment for severe pain, but hardly a long-term fix. For that you need…

4. Shoulder surgery. If you have experienced shoulder pain that persists for weeks or months, it is time to speak with a San Diego orthopedic surgeon about some options for lasting recovery. Depending on the injury and your needs, your surgeon can tailor a course of arthroscopic surgery and recovery that may help you beat back the pain for good.

If you cannot bear the chronic shoulder pain any longer, we can help. Contact San Diego’s shoulder surgery experts here to get started today.

Never Too Late for Shoulder Surgery: An NBA Case Study

Pro basketball players face an unlikely combination of struggles: their exceptional height means they have longer limbs which experience greater torsional forces, and they spend half their athletic lives leaping and extending those limbs as far as they can go.

The result is often undue wear and tear on the back and shoulders.

So it is perhaps no surprise that Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen recently posted this photo, alerting fans and friends that he has succumbed to the pain at long last, and begun taking active steps to restore comfort and mobility in his shoulder:

As the accompanying squib says, “It’s no surprise that the wear and tear of 1,386 games is beginning to take effect.”

Professional athletes aren’t the only people who report increasing shoulder pain as they age. At my orthopedic surgery practice here in San Diego, I see many hundreds of people who struggle with shoulder pain each year. When rest and rehab no longer do the trick, it may be time for orthopedic shoulder surgery.

Shoulder Surgery and Olympic Dreams

Few American Olympic athletes are more decorated or better known than Kerri Walsh Jennings, one half of a beach volleyball duo that has consistently bested the world’s stars over many years.

Although Ms. Walsh Jennings is a superlative athlete, constant impacts with hard sand and the slow stress of daily conditioning have left their mark: she has undergone shoulder surgery several times to repair cartilage and tendons strained from overuse.

Now the Los Angeles Times has announced that she is set for one more procedure:

The three-time Olympic gold medalist will have surgery Thursday to repair a torn labrum and torn capsule in her right shoulder, she told the Los Angeles Times.

Walsh Jennings will miss the remainder of beach volleyball tour events domestically and abroad in 2015, and is aiming to make it back to competition in mid-March.

Volleyball is a sport where strain falls upon the shoulder almost exclusively; beach volleyball is especially notorious for its hard landings. It is a testament to the effectiveness of modern shoulder surgery that Walsh Jennings continues to compete on the world’s biggest stage, and that she plans to return to that stage once again in the spring.

I treat world class athletes on a regular basis in my offices, and applaud the extraordinary dedication of Olympians like Kerri Walsh Jennings. If you’re looking for the standard in San Diego Shoulder surgery, please contact the AOSM offices today.

Making Sense of Shoulder Surgery

One of the principal complaints that brings patients to my door is shoulder pain, especially chronic pain brought on by repetitive movements or athletic trauma. Although many symptoms can be relieved with rest, medication and exercise, there are some issues that remain so stubbornly painful that shoulder surgery is the only option.

Shoulder surgery can take many forms, depending on the source and cause of the injury. But the basics remain more or less the same for most procedures, as outlined in this simple description:

During conventional shoulder surgery, a large open incision is made in order to reattach the tendon to the bone where it pulled apart. Sometimes open surgery is performed through small incisions that makeup only a few inches. Dissolvable sutures that will not have to be taken out at a later time are frequently used to fasten the tendons. At the completion of the open surgery, the incisions are closed followed by the application of a dressing.

As an orthopedic surgeon in San Diego, I see a lot of injuries due to sports, exercise and even military service. Our approach is holistically oriented, which means we take each patient’s full lifestyle into consideration as we design a surgical plan that makes sense for you.

If you’ve been experiencing shoulder pain and want to speak with an expert orthopedic surgeon today, please contact my offices.