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Total Shoulder Replacements Totally Change the Game—Swinging Into Full Mobility


Submitted by Mississippi Valley Surgery Center

Chronic joint pain has a way of slowly robbing us from the lifestyle we once loved. Imagine spending your whole life living an active lifestyle to find that suddenly, you can no longer do some of your favorite activities because of joint pain. It can be extremely frustrating, but when it starts impacting your day-to-day life, it becomes more than an inconvenience: your quality of life is affected altogether.

That was exactly the case for Charles Winston, a recent retiree of Sherrard, Illinois. Age 57, his active lifestyle became hindered by severe arthritis in his shoulders that led to sleepless nights and an extremely limited range of motion. And he’s not alone. Millions of adults in the United States suffer from shoulder pain that impacts their daily lives.

For Charles, he decided he wanted to reclaim the lifestyle he loved. To do so, he turned to Dr. Tuvi Mendel, MD, of Orthopaedic Specialist’s located at 3385 Dexter Court in Davenport, Iowa.

“After playing football in college and the physical demands of my job as a lineman, I developed some injuries that turned into bigger problems that were changing my day-to-day life,” Charles said. “I decided to get help because I knew something had to change.”

Knowing the right time to get help
Knowing when to seek help for joint pain can be difficult. For Charles, normal aches and pains began lasting for days on end and started changing how he lived his life. He was experiencing extreme limited mobility and sharp chronic pain that made it hard to sleep – and almost as importantly, hard to play one of his favorite retirement pastimes: golf.

“Everything I did with my arms bothered me,” he said. “I couldn’t even reach out of a car window or into my back pocket. It was really messing with my golf swing, too. My swing was about a quarter of the movement it used to be.”

For shoulders in particular, loss of mobility may indicate the need for a reverse total shoulder replacement to regain function of the rotator cuff. Dr. Mendel started with multiple comprehensive exams to assess Charles’ individual needs then created a custom care plan that included surgery to his right shoulder.

“When I went to Dr. Mendel, he could see my lack of mobility,” Charles said. “He could also see just how clogged up my shoulder was from arthritis and knew that surgery was the solution. I wanted to continue leading an active lifestyle into my retirement, and
the condition of my shoulder was not going to get better unless we took action.”

Doubling down on total shoulder surgery
Charles had surgery at Mississippi Valley Surgery Center (MVSC) – an outpatient surgery center in Davenport. Right away, he was overwhelmed with the feeling that he had made the right choice.

“I’ve had surgeries at other facilities, but I kind of felt like a number. When I first met with Dr. Mendel and the staff at the surgery center, I could tell I was in the right place,” Charles said. “Dr. Mendel sat down and looked me in the eye, and he just seemed like he really wanted to get things done for me and make me feel better.”

The surgery on his right shoulder was such a success, that three years later, Charles returned to Dr. Mendel in the fall of 2021 for help with his left shoulder.

“Eventually, I had similar pain with my left shoulder,” Charles said. “Dr. Mendel took a look and recommended we complete another total shoulder replacement.”

Winston knew the timing was right to do another surgery. Even though he was wary about going through another recovery process, he knew the reward of regained mobility would be worth it.

“I’m so happy with the decision to complete the left shoulder this fall,” Charles said. “I couldn’t be happier with Dr. Mendel’s work as well as the excellent nursing and support staff. I really can’t say enough about the results.”

For Charles, the results of his total shoulder replacements were a total game changer.

“Honestly, the word I would use to describe the results is ‘remarkable.’ After the recovery, I could put my arm straight above my head,” Charles said. “It was life changing.”

Advancing technology between surgeries
Between Charles’ two shoulder surgeries, the experts at Orthopaedic Specialists and Mississippi Valley Surgery Center continued to innovate and utilize the latest medical advances to create even better patient outcomes. In Charles’ case, a new opioid-free nerve blocker called Exparel was used on his second shoulder replacement to make the recovery process even smoother.

“With the right shoulder replacement, the recovery was kind of tough,” Charles said. “But with the left shoulder, they utilized the new nerve blocker which made a huge difference. I woke up feeling terrific. I can’t tell you how relieved I was.”

The non-opioid nerve blocker works by delivering precise pain control right to the surgery location to provide critical relief in the days immediately following surgery. It’s key in not only reducing the number of opioids needed, but also in creating much needed relief from post-surgery soreness.

“For me, utilizing the nerve blocker made the swelling almost nonexistent,” Charles said. “I took only a couple of pain pills, and then I was back to normal. If I had a friend going through the same pain that I was, the easiest recommendation I could make is to do this surgery. It’s so worth it.”

Getting back to the lifestyle he loves
After the second shoulder replacement surgery, Charles went through the physical therapy process and follow-up appointments with Dr. Mendel to monitor the progression of the recovery.

“My last appointment with Dr. Mendel was about a month post-operation,” Charles said. “By that time, it was amazing how much mobility I had. We were both really happy with the progress.”

“These surgeries have impacted my life immensely. I can do basic life things again now that I couldn’t before,” Charles said. “They’re simple things like vacuuming around the house without a jolt of pain or being able to take shirts on and off pain-free.”

Of course, the increase in mobility was a big win for Charles’ recreational life, too.

“I’m a big outdoors guy, especially now in retirement,” he said. “I enjoy hunting, and my golf game will be way better now with my swing getting back in action. It used to hurt with every swing I took.”

When asked what he’s most looking forward to, the answer came quick.

“That’s easy,” Charles said. “I’m very, very much looking forward to next golf season.”

To learn more about total shoulder replacement surgeries at Mississippi Valley Surgery Center and Dr. Tuvi Mendel of Orthopaedic Specialists, visit MVHealth.net or OSQuadCities.com.