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Pros and Cons of Shoulder joint replacement surgery?

RimRocRRimRoc Posts: 1
edited 11/04/2014 - 9:55 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I'm trying to help my 86 y.o. mom figure out whether to have her left shoulder joint replaced. She's a pretty resilient woman, in generally good health and now with debilitating pain in her shoulder from life-long arthritis. She had both knee joints replaced in her '70's and did well. She's not overweight, generally has good energy, and is very determined. At the same time, she IS 86 and not 66...I'd hate to send her down a path that will make her life worse. Her pain keeps her from easily dressing, she can't brush her hair, and can barely lift two plates up into the dish cabinet. So she's frustrated to near tears. She won't take pain meds beyond tylenol...

Our local ortho surgeon is a professional we trust and who has done wonderful knee replacement surgery for her knees. He thinks it is a reasonable choice for her. But then, he's in the business of performing surgeries...

I worry that that re-hab will be too hard, too long, and just not effective.

Any one out there have regrets about choosing shoulder replacement surgery???


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,841
    Besides my spinal surgeries, I have had both of my shoulders and hips totally replaced. Shoulder surgery IS NOT EASY.
    The rehab is VERY HARD and LONG.
    Now, my wife besides her normal duties sites on the ethics committee at our local hospital . When situations like you have posted come up, the majority of the folks on the board would say NO to having the surgery There surgery may help her shoulders, but the numerous risks involved with any surgery at her age is too great, We know of friends parents that had surgery in their late 80's to correct a situation. Yes, it corrected the specific situation, but they wound up having pneumonia the hospital and passed away shortly afterwards.

    In some socialized medical countries, they would not even consider some one your mothers age as a potential candidate for surgery.

    My take is to find the best ways to make her comfortable on a day by day basis.

    My strongest feelings are that shoulder surgery recovery is VERY HARD. I spent almost 2 years of daily HARD WORK to get my shoulders back. I had them done when I was 60 and I am doing well with them. But all the recovery problems, needing someone almost 24x7 to help out, because without shoulders you would be surprised at just how much you cant do. You cant shower yourself you cant dress yourself, you cant go to the bathroom yourself, its almost impossible to just do the simple things such as turning on the remote so you can watch TV.

    Shoulder Surgery is HARD, its PAINFUL and the RECOVERY is so VERY LONG.

    I hope you can find other ways to make your mother comfortable.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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