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When it Shoulder Surgery the Right Option?

Physical rehabilitation, steroid injections, and other non-surgical treatments can do wonders to ease shoulder pain and improve shoulder function. Despite this, surgery is sometimes necessary to repair shoulder damage and restore function. 

Delaying shoulder surgery when you need it can make treatment more difficult down the line. Your orthopedic provider will help you determine when it’s time to consider shoulder surgery and which type of shoulder surgery is right for you.

Understanding shoulder problems

The shoulder is the most flexible joint in the body, as well as one of the largest and most complex. This makes it susceptible to various issues from instability to impingement of the soft tissue. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint comprising the acromioclavicular joint and the glenohumeral joint. The humerus, scapula, and collarbone are the three bones that make up the shoulder. 

Shoulder problems manifest in different ways such as limited movement, weakness, and stiffness. Most often, problems with the shoulder cause pain. 

Three of the most common causes of shoulder pain include:

Getting a diagnosis

Board-certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Matthew Pifer has extensive experience diagnosing shoulder problems. 

To diagnose your condition, we'll perform a comprehensive examination of your shoulder. Then, we'll order and review relevant imaging tests and other appropriate tests if necessary.  

This information, along with a discussion of your symptoms, medical history, and physical tests helps us get to the root of the problem and form a diagnosis.

How do I know if I need shoulder surgery?

Once diagnosed, Dr. Pifer will create a treatment plan to address your needs. Conservative treatments benefit certain types of shoulder problems. Dr. Pifer may recommend surgery when nonsurgical treatment approaches fail to ease persistent pain or restore shoulder function. Surgery may also be necessary for situations where the damage to the shoulder is extensive. 

Signs you may need surgery include:

These are some of the reasons why Dr. Pifer may recommend shoulder surgery to restore the function of your shoulder and ease the pain. But, there are other reasons that may warrant surgery.

What should I expect from shoulder surgery?

Dr. Pifer performs various types of surgery to repair shoulder damage. This includes surgery to repair rotator cuff tears, as well as shoulder replacement surgery

What you can expect in regard to recovery, depends on your diagnosis and the type of surgery you need. Rest assured Dr. Pifer and our team will provide support for each step of the way. We'll discuss what you should expect and provide preoperative and post-operative instructions, as well as provide follow-up care.

What should I do if shoulder surgery is delayed?

In many cases, delaying shoulder surgery raises the risk of causing additional damage to the shoulder joint. However, some circumstances require delaying shoulder surgery. 

Due to the COVID19 pandemic, experts urge delaying surgeries for non-life threatening conditions. Many orthopedic surgeries fall into this category. 

A delay in surgery can be disappointing, and while you may experience pain and limited mobility, surgery can safely be delayed if necessary. 

If your surgery is delayed, discuss non-surgical treatments with Dr. Pifer. Talk to the doctor about your symptoms and treatments that may alleviate pain until your surgery is rescheduled.

How can I take advantage of telemedicine?

Dr. Pifer offers telemedicine appointments for new and existing orthopedic patients. This means you can maintain orthopedic care remotely without leaving home.

Telemedicine allows you to connect with your orthopedic specialist using video conferences, phone chat, or text chat. With a televisit, you can access the same level of high-quality care in the comfort of your home or office.

To get started, contact our Santa Barbara office or request a telemedicine appointment online using the webform here.

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