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Addressing Shoulder Pain: When Is It Time to Consider Surgery?

Addressing Shoulder Pain: When Is It Time to Consider Surgery?
Addressing Shoulder Pain: When Is It Time to Consider Surgery?

Shoulder arthritis can make simple daily tasks painful, like waving your hand, driving or even preparing food. Shoulder pain, most commonly caused by osteoarthritis, leads to severe pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion in the shoulder joint as we age. Although there is never a “right” time for surgery, understanding your options can help you decide.

Key Indicators for Shoulder Surgery

  • Nonsurgical Treatments Have Failed: Nonsurgical or conservative treatments are always recommended first for minor injuries or early arthritis conditions. When these conservative treatments have been exhausted and there is no sign of improvement in the shoulder joint, surgery is often recommended.
  • Debilitating Pain: Shoulder pain can be uncomfortable, but when it becomes debilitating, your life can be put on hold. If your pain is long-lasting and so crippling that it persistently affects your quality of life, sleep and ability to function, surgery should be considered.
  • Damage to the Shoulder Joint: When the shoulder joint is severely injured or degrading from severe osteoarthritis, the joint can sustain structural damage, resulting in severe pain. In this case, surgery is the best treatment to restore functioning, avoid further damage, and alleviate your shoulder pain.
  • Loss of Function: Your shoulder joint has the largest range of motion of all the joints in your body. So when your most versatile joint stops working, it can make life difficult. If you lose the ability to use your shoulder in daily activities, like putting away dishes, sleeping or driving, it is time to consider surgery.

Shoulder pain can be difficult to navigate. The decision to undergo shoulder surgery for arthritis should be made in consultation with a board-certified fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon. The choice of surgery and its timing will depend on the severity of the condition, the patient's overall health, and their goals.

Shoulder surgery can be a viable option for restoring function of the joint and reducing pain levels. If you or a loved one are struggling to decide if shoulder surgery is necessary, Dr. Shrouder-Henry offers consultations and second opinions.

AUTHOR: : Jason Shrouder-Henry MD, MB A is a Board Certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder throughout Chicagoland.