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Signs you might benefit from shoulder surgery

The pain in your shoulder is unreal. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing — following your daily routine or simply trying to sleep at night — you find that you’re almost constantly in pain. You’ve tried everything, including specific stretches and anti-inflammatory medications, with no lasting results to show for it.

“When your range of motion has significantly decreased and pain stemming from your shoulder prevents you from performing routine activities, it might be time to talk with your doctor about whether you could be a candidate for shoulder replacement surgery,” says Jeffrey T. Adams, M.D., a specialist in orthopedic surgery on the medical staff at Maury Regional Medical Center and affiliated with Mid-Tennessee Bone & Joint Clinic.

The main objective of shoulder replacement surgery is to reduce pain and increase mobility — improving your overall quality of life. But the reasons someone might need a shoulder replacement can vary, Dr. Adams says.

One such reason is osteoarthritis, which leads to painful inflammation and stiffness in the joints as cartilage and joint tissues break down and rub against each other. Another reason someone might need a shoulder replacement is due to a fracture or break in the upper arm as well as an untreated rotator cuff tear.

If your doctor decides shoulder replacement is, in fact, for you, the average recovery time consists of four to six weeks in a sling. Most people resume activities of daily living within six weeks though it may be several months before they can return to more vigorous activities, such as swimming or running. During their recovery time, patients are expected to perform daily exercises as prescribed by their doctor to prevent stiffness. Physical therapy is also often strongly recommended.

“A crucial component of the recovery process is following your exercise program,” Dr. Adams says. “Healing cannot begin without your vested interest and commitment to taking care of your shoulder and rigorously following your rehabilitation plan.”

While there may be some initial stiffness or instability post-operation, those sensations should decrease by completing the prescribed exercises and physical therapy — ultimately resulting in increased range of motion and decreased pain.


An official headshot of Dr. VertreesJeffrey Adams, M.D.,

is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff at Maury Regional Medical Center. He is affiliated with the Mid-Tennessee Bone & Joint Clinic in Columbia.