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Surgeon Helps Sabula, Iowa Woman Overcome Shoulder Pain


Submitted by Orthopaedic Specialists

Only a year ago, simple tasks like brushing her hair or putting away dishes were nearly impossible for Kathleen House of Sabula, Iowa. “I was unable to get my arms above my head or behind my back,” she said. “If I wanted to lift something, I had to push my elbow with my other hand to get the arm up.”

Intense pain in both shoulders — a condition she’d been dealing with for more than two decades — was the cause of Kathleen’s limitations. Pain had become such a constant for Kathleen that she was prepared to live with receiving injections every four to six months just to make daily tasks possible.

Thankfully that wasn’t necessary. After multiple failed attempts of rotator cuff surgery, Kathleen saw Dr. Tuvi Mendel, a fellowship trained orthopaedic surgeon at Orthopaedic Specialists (OS) in Davenport, and Kathleen is now pain free and has regained almost full motion in both shoulders.

“Kathleen’s story is a great example of why patients shouldn’t surrender to pain,” said Dr. Mendel. “Surgical advances and technological innovation are happening all the time and result in less invasive procedures, shorter surgical time, accelerated recovery, and better outcomes.”

With years of experience and thousands of patient cases successfully completed, the specialists at OS can help patients recover faster through accurate diagnosis and the latest minimally invasive orthopaedic treatment options.

Kathleen’s story
Kathleen’s shoulder pain began in 1989 as a result of lifting a heavy box. “I used to clean houses and was constantly moving furniture and other heavy items. My husband always used to say that I worked ‘like a man,’ lifting so many heavy things all the time,” said Kathleen. With the pain limiting her ability to work, she had a rotator cuff surgery done on her shoulder with a traditional open surgical incision several centimeters long.

A second and third surgery soon followed — both of which were minimally invasive. Minimally invasive surgeries are performed using a small camera, called an arthroscope, and result in minimal scarring and faster recovery times. While they provided her with some relief, the pain eventually returned.

“After the effects of the third surgery subsided, I started coming in every four to six months for injections,” said Kathleen. “Those helped at first, but last year the effectiveness started to decrease and it wasn’t giving me relief anymore.” That’s when Kathleen turned to Dr. Mendel who recommended a reverse shoulder replacement.

“The rotator cuffs were completely disintegrated and there was nothing there to hold the shoulder in position anymore,” said Dr. Mendel, who has extensive experience in the reverse shoulder replacement. “When rotator cuffs fail to heal after surgery, or when tears are chronic and non-repairable, a reverse shoulder replacement surgery is the best choice.

Reverse shoulder replacement
In a traditional total shoulder replacement, the ball and socket of the joint are replaced. Reverse total shoulder replacement replaces the ball and socket but reverses the ball and socket orientation.

“By reversing the ball and socket, we are able to mechanically maximize the center of rotation in the shoulder, giving patients improved function and pain control,” said Dr. Mendel. “The reverse total shoulder replacement relies on the deltoid muscle, instead of the rotator cuff, to power and position the arm.”

Dr. Mendel performed the surgery on Kathleen’s right shoulder in December 2014 and her left shoulder in September 2015. She was surprised at how quickly she recovered and how much better she now feels. “I didn’t take any pain medication after either of the surgeries. I had no pain at all. I just went about my normal life. My range of motion is pretty much back to normal,” said Kathleen. “I have a friend who needs shoulder surgery and she asked me about Dr. Mendel. I explained to her how great the surgery was and how easy he was to work with.”

To learn more about Dr. Tuvi Mendel and all of the experts at Orthopaedic Specialists, call 563-344-9292, visit OSQuadCities.com and visit facebook.com/osquadcities.