By Stacey Gallacher, MD
If you’re living with shoulder or elbow pain, surgery may be required to alleviate your pain and enable you to get back to the activities that you enjoy. The good news is that surgical techniques and components have come a long way, making the experience more customized, safer and less invasive than in previous decades.
Shoulder Replacement Surgery Designed Just for You
If you’re experiencing shoulder pain due to arthritis, rotator cuff tendon tears, impingement syndrome, recurrent dislocations, loose bone or cartilage, or general inflammation, joint replacement surgery is an option.
While shoulder replacement surgeries have been performed by surgeons for decades, over the last five years or so, advances in technology have greatly changed the way surgeries are approached and performed. Because bodies vary in size and shape, we now can customize each patient’s implants and other surgical components to precisely fit his or her specific anatomy. This means that your new components will be nearly identical to the bones they are replacing, minimizing discomfort and improving outcomes.
Additionally, surgeons can now use computer navigation software to create a 3D model of a patient’s shoulder. For example, using CT images and advanced software, surgeons can develop a model of a patient’s shoulder that’s been misshaped by arthritis. This provides surgeons with a clearer view of your specific bones and enables them to tailor the tools used during surgery.
Most shoulder replacement surgery patients are admitted overnight after surgery and go home the next day. You will likely need to wear a sling for three to four weeks after surgery and will begin physical therapy about a month after surgery. Most patients will be back to their day-to-day activities in two to three months and more strenuous activities like golf in five to six months.
Relief from Elbow Pain through Minimally Invasive Surgery
Elbow surgery used to require “open” surgery in the form of large incisions which took longer to heal. Now most elbow surgeries are performed arthroscopically using a minimally invasive, same-day procedure to visualize, diagnose, and treat issues inside a joint.
Those who suffer from loose bone or cartilage in the elbow, inflammation, or elbow tendonitis like tennis elbow can have arthroscopic surgery. With this advanced technique, patients are typically home within hours after the surgery. Most patients won’t require a splint, sling or cast after surgery and should be able to resume normal activities in four to six weeks.
The Benefits of Minimally Invasive Surgery
I treat each patient individually, taking into account his or her age, activity level and overall health status. We use the most advanced techniques and technology to perform minimally invasive joint replacement surgeries using the latest prosthetic implants for longer-lasting results. Surgeons are specially trained to perform joint replacement surgery through incisions several inches shorter than those used during traditional surgeries. Using small, flexible instruments, we can repair tissues and bones or replace joints in patients ranging in age from their 30s to 90s with enhanced precision.
The benefits of this approach can include:
- Less damage to surrounding tissue
- Reduced risk for complications such as infection
- Less scarring
- Reduced pain
- Quicker recovery
If patients need to stay overnight or longer, they are cared for by CentraState Medical Center’s skilled nursing staff on a unit that’s dedicated to post-operative patients. The Total Joint Center provides joint replacement patients with around-the-clock, high-quality, compassionate care. Our innovative approach to pain management helps ensure patients’ comfort while encouraging them to move as soon as possible after surgery.
The total joint team includes board-certified orthopedic surgeons, specially trained orthopedic nurses, patient care technicians, physical and occupational therapists, dietitians, social workers, and case managers. Together, they provide comprehensive, integrated joint care, including a tailored rehabilitation program, pain management, and complementary therapies.
Any surgery has its risks. We take a team approach to minimize those risks by working with your primary care physician, cardiologist and other specialists to optimize your experience and maximize your surgical success. It’s normal to have fears about having surgery, but if pain is limiting your life, talk with your doctor about your options.
For more information about CentraState’s orthopedic surgery services, visit centrastate.com/orthopedics.
Stacey Gallacher, MD, is a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon on staff at CentraState Medical Center and can be reached by calling 866-CENTRA7.