Don't Shrug Off Shoulder Problems
"There are two different patient populations who have shoulder problems," says Dr. Jon Tucker of the Orthopedic Group at Uniontown Hospital.
"In younger patients, I see dislocated shoulders due to collision sports, and torn ligaments and torn cartilage due to throwing sports. Older patients with shoulder problems have arthritis, bursitis or rotator cuff tears due to the aging process or from injuries."
In the past, surgery was often not an option. "Years ago, shoulder surgery required large incisions and a lot of muscle to be cut," remarks Dr. Tucker. "Recovery was long and painful."
Nowadays, though, there is good news for both patient groups. "Most patients' shoulder problems are amenable to arthroscopic repair," says Dr. Tucker.
"Bursitis has been treated arthroscopically for the last 10 years," he states. "But in the last two years, surgeons with advanced skills can repair most shoulder problems with minimally invasive techniques."
The benefits are tremendous. "Incisions are smaller. There's much less pain. It's usually outpatient surgery," says Dr. Tucker. "And rehab can be easier, shorter and less painful."
So, how do you know when it's time to seek help?
"Young patients who have had a recent shoulder injury that causes clicking or popping, or makes the shoulder feel unstable, should visit an orthopedic surgeon," says Dr. Tucker. The same goes for older patients "who have restricted motion, weakness and pain in the upper arm or shoulder which increases at night or with lifting overhead."
"Don't ignore the symptoms," warns Dr. Tucker. "Patients who have injured a shoulder may be at greater risk for developing arthritis."
And the biggest reason not to shrug off troubles? The majority of patients enjoy good to excellent results from arthroscopic surgery. And that means no longer having to shoulder the pain.Return to LEARN MORE