Medical Monday: Is shoulder surgery the best option for me?

Posted at 7:06 PM, Dec 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-26 20:06:11-05
Dr. Shawn Hennigan is an orthopedic surgeon with BayCare Clinic. He joined us on Wisconsin Tonight to discuss when shoulder pain becomes a medical issue.
It’s not unusual to experience a little pain from time to time, especially given that many of us aren’t as physically fit as we’d like to be. Putting seldom-used muscles to work may result in temporary pain that’s easily treated with over-the-counter pain medications and rest. When the pain and discomfort linger and begin to interfere with your ability to move freely, that’s when it becomes a medical issue.
Many shoulder problems are caused by the breakdown of soft tissues in the shoulder. Overusing the shoulder can cause the soft tissue to break down faster as we age. Manual labor and certain sports may lead to shoulder pain. We see patients with a wide variety of shoulder pain issues largely caused by arthritis, rotator cuff tears, and tendonitis.
Surgery generally becomes an option when the pain and discomfort interfere with your day-to-day activities. Your doctor or orthopedic surgeon can help decide whether surgery is the choice for you.
Depending on your shoulder issues, there are a number of treatment options available, including:
* Arthroscopic surgery: Uses a tiny camera to examine or repair the shoulder joint tissues. The arthroscope is inserted through a small incision in your skin.
* Shoulder stabilization surgery: Is done to improve stability and function to the shoulder joint and prevent recurrent dislocations.
* Total shoulder replacement: Doctors replace the ends of the damaged upper arm bone (humerus) and usually the shoulder bone (scapula) or cap them with artificial surfaces lined with plastic or metal and plastic.
* Reverse total shoulder replacement: In standard total shoulder replacement surgery, a metal ball is used to replace the head of the humerus. A high-strength plastic implant is used to replace the socket of the shoulder blade. In reverse total shoulder replacement surgery, the location of the new ball and socket are on the opposite sides of a normal shoulder. Their positions are ‘reversed.’ A new metal hemisphere is used to replace the socket of the shoulder blade and a metal and high-strength plastic socket is used to replace the head of the humerus. Reverse total shoulder surgery is considered when conventional surgical methods cannot manage shoulder pain and loss of function.
Most replacement parts will last a lifetime, but implants can wear out over time. On average, artificial joints have a lifespan of 10 to 20 years.
Scientists are studying shoulder problems to find ways to:
* Improve surgery
* Improve function and reduce pain
* Correct movement patterns that cause shoulder pain in some people with spinal cord damage
* Develop new medicines that help muscles and tendons heal
* Prevent and treat rotator cuff tears
Visit or call Orthopedics & Sports Medicine BayCare Clinic at 877-229-2273 for more information.