Five years ago, Lenore Lyon was shooting a game of pool when she fell, hitting the pool table and then the floor. She bounced once, breaking the proximal humerus (the ball of the shoulder joint) in her right arm.
She went to her doctor, who took x-rays and put her arm in a sling. After that, the boned seemed to heal. Little did she know that the blood supply to the humerus had been cut off, and the bone was slowly dying.
She found out a year and a half later when she was swimming laps at a pool. Suddenly, she felt horrible pain in her upper arm. From that point on, she could no longer use her arm, severely impacting her ability to perform daily living activities. She could not shift her car into “drive” or “reverse” or even brush her hair.
Lenore’s primary care physician referred her to Dr. Luke Schnell, an orthopedic surgeon and shoulder specialist at the Center for Spine and Orthopedics. A new x-ray did not show that Lenore had broken her proximal humerus. Dr. Schnell asked if she had had a traumatic injury. She described her fall. He then reviewed her MRI, which showed that the blood flow to the bone had been cut off as a result of her fall and that the bone was dying. He recommended a total shoulder replacement.
Prior to surgery, he also discussed with her the importance of rehabilitation. “Dr. Schnell warned me that rehab is very important. He told me about people who do not follow through,” she explains. “He said that without continuing physical therapy, the muscle tightens and function diminishes. He told me the only way that he can fix that is with more surgery.”
Lenore, age 62, had surgery on a Wednesday in April 2018. While doing her surgery, Dr. Schnell found severe arthritis and poor bone quality, but was able to complete the shoulder replacement. That Friday, she returned home from the hospital, and by Monday, she no longer needed any pain medication.
Two weeks later, Lenore began physical therapy close to her home. The first month, she went three times a week and then 2 times a week the second month. By the third month, she only needed to go once a week and continued on for a fourth month. “I did everything Dr. Schnell told me to do,” Lenore says.
Now, one year later, she has 95 percent of her arm and shoulder function back.
“I have no pain at all. I play golf, go bowling and am back to playing pool again, too.”—Lenore Lyon, Shoulder Replacement Patient
Even though a year has gone by, Lenore continues to exercise her shoulder, and before she gets up, she stretches her arm in bed every morning.
“Lenore has truly been a model patient,” says Dr. Schnell. “I view my relationship with my patients as a partnership. A great outcome requires both patient commitment and physician excellence.”
“Dr. Schnell is great!” says Lenore. “I advise others not to be afraid. Have Dr. Schnell do the surgery and follow his instructions. Then, you’ll never have a problem again.”
For an appointment with Dr. Lucas Schnell,
call the Center for Spine and Orthopedics at 303-287-2800.
Should You Have Shoulder Replacement Surgery?
Your orthopedic surgeon may recommend shoulder replacement surgery when you experience:
- Severe shoulder pain that interferes with everyday activities, such as dressing, driving, reaching into a cabinet, toileting, washing and sleeping.
- Moderate to severe pain while resting.
- Loss of motion and/or weakness in the shoulder.
- Failure to substantially improve with anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, physical therapy or other treatment.
Ultimately, the decision to have shoulder replacement surgery is yours. Most often it is a cooperative decision, between a patient and his or her family, primary care physician and orthopedic surgeon.