Relieving a Shoulder Burden

Total shoulder replacement relieves pain and restores active life for Palos Park retiree

Total shoulder replacement relieves pain and restores active life for Palos Park retiree Frank Kryzak, left, and his wife, Beth, meet with orthopaedic surgeon, Lewis Shi, MD, at a follow-up appointment after Kryzak had shoulder replacement surgery to remedy severe pain in his left shoulder.

When Frank Kryzak tells friends he had his shoulder replaced, some look at him with disbelief. He hears, "You must be wrong; are you talking about rotator cuff repair?" The 78-year-old retired sales manager himself had never heard of the procedure before he searched for an orthopaedic surgeon to address severe pain in his left shoulder.

Shoulder replacement is a common, safe and reliable procedure.

Back in 2009, Kryzak, of Palos Park, experienced left shoulder soreness while lifting weights and working in his yard. Over time, discomfort progressed to pain that interfered with his other activities including fishing, biking and hiking. Eventually, he felt "a jolt of lightning" while simply reaching for a fork or a spoon. "My life was miserable," Kryzak recalled. Physical therapy and other medications did not bring relief.

One of his physicians recommended he see University of Chicago Medicine orthopaedic surgeon Lewis L. Shi, MD, a specialist in shoulder injuries and care.

X-rays showed that osteoarthritis had significantly damaged the bone surfaces of Kryzak’s shoulder ball and socket as well as the cartilage in between these joints. Shi explained that a total shoulder replacement was a good treatment option because it can improve pain and restore function. "While many patients know about hip and knee replacement, most don’t realize that shoulder replacement is also a common, safe, and reliable procedure," said Shi, adding that more than 50,000 shoulder replacement surgeries are performed each year in the United States.

Describing his first appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon, Kryzak said, "Dr. Shi was a real gentleman who explained everything very well. Then he left it up to me to decide." Kryzak scheduled the operation for a month later, on December 26, 2012. "I was nervous about it, but Dr. Shi gave me the confidence to have the procedure," he recalled.

During surgery, Shi removed the damaged ball and socket, replacing them with artificial parts -- called implants -- made of metal and durable plastic materials. By choosing and assembling the implants during the operation and rotating them to the correct angle, Shi shaped a custom fit.

'Painless' Surgery

"Everything went really well and the pain was minimal," said Kryzak.

The anesthesiologist on Shi’s surgical team, Tariq Malik, MD, also gave much care and attention to Kryzak. In addition to administering general anesthesia during the operative procedure, Malik delivered regional anesthesia to block the nerve that went to the affected joint. This technique minimized the amount of medication needed to put Kryzak to sleep and, in turn, reduced the uncomfortable side effects from anesthesia. The nerve block, delivered through a tiny catheter inserted through Kryzak’s neck, stayed in place after he went home. For several days, a pump continued to deliver numbing medication to the surgical site.

Kryzak and Lewis Shi, MD, at a recent appointment Kryzak, left, demonstrates the regained range of motion in his left arm after undergoing shoulder replacement surgery.

"Home-based regional anesthesia enables most patients to be discharged within 24 hours of surgery and to be comfortable with little or no oral pain medicine," Malik said. He explained that this method also allows patients to move the joint painlessly, a vital part of recovery after replacement surgery.

"Everything went really well and the pain was minimal," said Kryzak, who took only over-the-counter medication for pain. "When I saw Dr. Shi again, I laughed and told him ‘I had painless surgery.’"

Today, Kryzak is careful not to strain his repaired shoulder, but has started lifting lighter weights and working in the yard again. He is looking forward to a fishing trip in the early fall. "I think I am doing colossal now," he said.

Learn More About Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Shoulder replacement surgery can be a very safe and effective procedure to help patients suffering from a variety of conditions, such as arthritis and chronic rotator cuff tear.  It is a reliable way to provide pain relief and functional improvement. »Read more about shoulder arthritis and shoulder replacement
 
Kryzak was a good candidate for the procedure. He tried numerous non-operative treatment options prior to deciding to undergo surgery. 

Depending on your health history and diagnosis, the initial treatment prescribed may be a combination of the following:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications (ibuprofen, prescription medication, etc.)
  • Cortisone injections
  • Physical therapy

If conservative options have been exhausted, patients may choose to have a shoulder replacement.  Before, during and after surgery, our multidisciplinary team that includes surgical, anesthesia and supporting medical staff all work together to provide the best possible care.

Shi and the University of Chicago Medicine team are accepting patients for the treatment of shoulder injuries.  To make an appointment to discuss the source of your pain and treatment options, request an appointment online or call UCM Connect toll-free at 1-888-824-0200.

July 2013