BY:  Beverly Bernstein Joie, MS, CMC
President Elder Connections


Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder

Osteoarthritis is a major reason that people consider shoulder replacement surgery.  So, when my business partner and geriatric care manager, Dolores T. Magid made the decision to have surgery, it was not without considerable reflection, research, and anxiety.

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, about 700,000 people receive knee and hip replacement surgery each year.  About 23,000 people have shoulder replacement surgery.  Osteoarthritis is the most common factor in shoulder deterioration.  The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint that enables us to move our shoulder in all directions.  The joint surfaces are normally covered by smooth cartilage that allows adequate shoulder rotation.  The surrounding muscles and tendons provide stability and support.  When Osteoarthritis strikes, this system is compromised and the individual is often met with significant pain affecting their ability to live their life.

Dolores’ Story

Having tried less invasive procedures and physical therapy, Dolores never knew when she would experience the ball of her shoulder socket displace from itself even when seated at her desk.  The pain was excruciating and was something she lived with for quite awhile before making her decision.  It’s a sad state of affairs when your husband has to do your hair every day.

Dolores’ surgery took place on October 7, 2010.  She chose The Rothman Institute which is a recognized leader in joint replacement surgery.  Back at the office, we were all holding our breath.  But, Dolores was in the driver’s seat.  She was certain about the surgeon she chose and she had completely prepared for this event.  She selected one of Elder Connections’ caregivers who stayed with her for the two nights that she was in the hospital. She reported that this made an enormous difference for her just knowing that she was not alone and with a trusted caregiver. Her pain medication kept her comfortable post surgery.  Her exercises began. And, she alerted all but her immediate family that she was off limits until she returned home.  Everything has gone flawlessly so far.

My own initial fear about her surgery has evaporated upon visiting her and seeing my friend and business partner on the healing side of things.  It taught me about the opportunities we all have to take care of our health and to take the steps toward a successful outcome.  Better Senior Care is an attainable goal!

Steps to Selecting The Joint Replacement Option  

  • Understand the cause of your joint pain

Arthritis is a major cause of the problem, but it could be Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, or Post-traumatic Arthritis.  It could also be Avascular Necrosis or something else.

  • Obtain a Quality Medical Diagnosis

Seek an evaluation from a qualified Orthopedic Surgeon and get more than one opinion.

  • Explore Your Treatment Options

Consider the least invasive options first.

  • When All Options Are Exhausted, Consider Joint Replacement Surgery

Select a surgeon with the most experience with your specific joint problem and a hospital that performs many of these procedures.

  • Preparing For Joint Replacement Surgery

Begin exercising under a doctor’s supervision

Have a complete physical and clearance from specialists familiar with your history

Have a dental examination

Stop taking specific medications (consult with your doctor about which ones)

Consider lifestyle changes – stop smoking, lose weight

Complete all lab work – x-rays, blood tests, etc.

  • Evaluate Post Surgical Needs for At Home Care

Following surgery, you will require assistance with your activities of daily living such as bathing and dressing.  Make sure a family member stays with you or hire a company that can provide this home care.

  • Arrange Physical Therapy and Post Operative Exercise

The key to successful surgery is the rehab following the surgery.