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Thread: shoulder replacement

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Glenelg,Maryland USA

    shoulder replacement

    I had shoulder problems before I was paralyzed but my right shoulder has become so bad that the doctors say it needs to be replaced. Even taking oxycodone does not relieve the pain,but makes it bearable.
    Every six months I get an injection that is to replace the spongey substance that should be in my shoulder joint,I do a medrol dose pack 3 or 4 times a year, I have had surgery to shave the bone down,remove spurs, and the doctors say there is nothing else they can do for me besides replace the joint.
    The very few paralyzed people I have fopund that had a shoulder replaced say it ruined their lives,took away their independence and even after lots of physical therapy they never regained the strenght to transfer themselves or push a wheelchair
    Anyone had this surgery or have any suggestions of other things to try. I am not getting my shoulder replaced and giving up my independence. As hard as it has been living paralyzed, I still have been able to start and build a successful business, travel,take care of my children, get remarried ( first one fell apart after my acccident) and I can not imagine not being able to take care of myself. I realize high level quads have to deal with this everyday but its past the limit of what I can handle.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Chesapeake, VA
    This may sound stupid but have you tried taking glucosomine? My son has knee issues due to the fact that they were crushed (along with his legs) in the same accident that caused his SCI. Because of his age (17 at time of injury, 19 now), the ortho doctors do not want to talk about knee replacement surgery. He has been taking glucosomine with controitine for about a year now and it has help rebuild the joints considerably. When we asked the doctors about it, they agreed that it will either help or not. Since everyone reacts to medications differently, there are never any guarantees. The only thing they could guarantee was that it would not hurt him.

    I would say it is worth a shot and you are right to avoid joint replacement as long as possible. The last thing you want at this point is to loose your independence.--eak

  3. #3
    My husband had rotator cuff surgery on both shoulders about 2 years apart. (before his SCI) One was from wear and tear and the other a work accident.
    Both were very painful and took time and PT to recover from but he did not regret having them done because they were both unbearable.
    He is a pretty tough guy, so I knew it must be bad.

  4. #4
    Listen to the friends who have had the surgery. Once the shoulder is cut there is no going back. I have much the same probs as you. My surgeon said it would be a waste of time and the problem woud not be corrected.

    It's just a fact that the shoulders are not meant to be legs. Would be at lesat 6 to 9 months before any kind of independent transfer, would be Completely dependent for everything in that time. A person could just fall over on the shoulder one time and rip out all the stuff that was done to correct it.

    Yeah, ya gotta get the shots and keep exercizing it in a healthy way. Get to a trainer who knows about these type of injuries and SCI if possible to work out the muscles that are still there. I don't know anybody who has had surgery on the shoulder that hasn't been back to where they were before and in many cases worse than they were.

    My transfers are the pits but I stil go to the gym and do modified workouts with my trainer of 7 years, handcycle and try not to rip out anymore than I have already.

    I hear you on the frustration of this. I went from benching 360 lbs. to 0 in a short period of time. Just a fact of life with sci. We'll get thru this shoulder BS. Others have done it, we can too. Stay strong as you can with what you have left.

  5. #5
    There is pretty good advice here. I would not rush to the OR, but I am not the one in pain. I would recommend making a list of the pros and cons of the surgery. I would also recommend getting a second opinion if you can.

  6. #6
    Hi Brian: I have has some pretty painful shoulder issues with encapsulation so I understand the pain where there is no sleeping, etc. I see that you are in MD. I was treated by a doc at Hopkins Bayview and another one from Union. The Hopkins doctor got that I use my arms as my legs. You don't take PM but feel free to send me an email if you want some names.

    Be careful on the steroids and injections---they disolved parts of my shoulder, scapula and muscle.

    A word of warning on glucosomine with controitine . If you are allergic to iodine and/or shellfish--DO NOT use glucosomine with controitine as it is made from oyster shells, etc.
    Every day I wake up is a good one

  7. #7
    i have been coping with two painful shoulders for the past few years and have looked at all the options. Shoulder replacement surgery was one of them. I have had discussions with two orthopedic surgeons, one of whom is an internationally known shoulder specialist. Both have told me that they would only consider the surgery when I was suicidal (my word) from the pain. This is because the prostheses will not bear up under transfers and other heavy load activities, and I would be totally dependent during a long recovery/rehab period from which I would not likely totally rebound. Under the best case scenario, it would relieve some of the pain. It is a tough situation to be in. To the rest of you, save your shoulders before it is too late.
    You will find a guide to preserving shoulder function @

    See my personal webpage @

  8. #8
    Truer words were never spopken SCI55. I remember the old guys telling us young jocks to save our shoulders. We all laughed and said it would never happen.

    Well, I've learned never to say "It will never happen" cause it seems to always come back and bite me in the butt. I find myself telling the younguns now to save the shoulders and get that same look I gave years ago.

    In reality, what can we really do to stave off the bad shoulders syndrome. I did, what i thought, all the right stuff and it still came about. This scares me and makes me realize this is more than just a flesh wound. I did have a great time though when they were healthy and I'm sure I'll have more when I adapt to this shoulder bs.

    My docs told me the samething about replacement. It just won't work for us.

  9. #9
    I hate to say this, but us old timers had a little different perspective on increasing independence T all costs, including over use of the shoulders. My advice is to try to conserve your shoulder use, if at all possible. I know that is easier to say than to do.

  10. #10
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    I had rotator cuff surgery when I was in high school from overuse playing baseball [obviously pre-SCI]. With rehab my shoulder muscles tightened around the socket. It was good and made my shoulder much stronger than before and stronger than my left shoulder [non-throwing arm]. HOWEVER, there has been a huge and noticeable differenece in the range of motion. I can touch the top of my back wqith my left arm, but not nearly as flexible with the right arm that was worked on.

    Just some pros and cons specific to my experience.

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