After years of struggling with shoulder pain, Jan Stephens didn’t know what to do next. It all started with a torn rotator cuff that went untreated after a hospital visit. During the visit, X-rays were taken; Jan’s shoulder problems were misdiagnosed as a pulled muscle.
After the at-home exercises were unsuccessful, a doctor finally gave Jan a cortisone shot that allowed her to get by for a while.
One day while sewing, Jan said she “felt as if lightning went through my fingers all the way to my shoulder. The pain was excruciating.” It got to the point where it was hard for Jan to eat with her right hand and eventually, Jan lost the ability to use her arm. She couldn’t do housework, lift anything or even move her arm at all.
As someone who is always on the move, it was hard to stop doing the things she enjoyed, including knitting or using the computer. The pain became so severe to the point that she knew she had to contact a doctor.
Jan took a referral from her husband’s former surgeon but was not impressed. The doctor spent five minutes with Jan and didn’t take the time to answer her questions. Before leaving, the doctor made the comment that he would see Jan in maybe a week or maybe ten years. Jan remembers thinking, “Nope! You’ll never see me again.”
Next, Jan tried physical therapy. After three weeks, the therapist informed Jan that her only option was surgery. Not knowing who to contact, the therapist gave Jan the number of OrthoIndy knee and shoulder surgeon, Dr. Jeffery Soldatis.
Dr. Soldatis could tell right away that there was a problem. Jan remembers when she first went to Dr. Soldatis, he asked her how long she had been having trouble with her shoulder, to which she responded, “a few months.”
After X-ray and MRI results, Jan remembers Dr. Soldatis asking again, “How long have you really been having trouble with your shoulder?” Jan admitted it had been years.
Dr. Soldatis did what the other doctor failed to do. “He took the time to explain to me that I had a very old injury that the more recent incident exacerbated,” said Jan. “He was so kind and understanding. He spent time explaining the entire procedure and what it would accomplish.”
Is shoulder replacement major surgery?
At first, Jan wasn’t sure surgery was the answer. “The thought of a shoulder replacement just about scared me to death,” said Jan. “I was so uncertain that surgery was the right thing to do initially. But, with Dr. Soldatis’ explanations and the confidence he instilled in me, I knew it was the right thing to do. I am very grateful for his skill.”
Jan had what is called a reverse total shoulder replacement. “The mechanics of the shoulder are ‘reversed’ to correct for either poor rotator cuff function or loss or significant bone deformity from the arthritis process,” said Dr. Soldatis.
A shoulder replacement is a typical surgery. “I would call shoulder replacement a major operation as it requires at least a one-night stay in the hospital and replaces a major body joint,” said Dr. Soldatis. “However, the procedure is quite common now.”
How long does it take to recover from a shoulder replacement?
After shoulder replacement surgery, patients can expect to get back to normal around five months post-operation. “The first six weeks after surgery involves protection and gentle motion,” said Dr. Soldatis. “This is followed by light strength until three months after surgery. Then, patients advance to progressive strength until they reach full recovery at about five months after surgery.”
Slings are used right after surgery to keep the shoulder stable. “The sling is used for the first six weeks after surgery but is removed every day for some simple motion exercises,” said Dr. Soldatis.
After surgery, Jan’s shoulder pain is a distant memory. “Words cannot describe how wonderful I feel. When I think back, it’s difficult to remember the pain and the inability to do simple tasks,” said Jan. “Now, I’m back to my regular routine. I have about 90% use of my arm.”
The only symptom that remains is a little bit of difficulty when Jan reaches a certain way. Through physical therapy, Jan was assured it would resolve through building strength.
In the future, Jan is considering the possibility of playing tennis again because of the success of her procedure. “I could not be more pleased with OrthoIndy and Dr. Soldatis,” said Jan.
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