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Life-changing shoulder surgery

Laura Edwards

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Imagine not being able to lift a gallon of milk, or throw your handbag over your shoulder without feeling pain.

Unfortunately for Laura Edwards, this was reality. Edwards suffered from degenerative arthritis in both shoulders. Here, roughened, diseased cartilage and bone rubbed against bone, causing deep relentless pain with every move.

Jennifer Naticchia, MD, a Virtua sports medicine and family medicine physician, explains: “Because the shoulder is one of the most complex joints in the body, correctly diagnosing those problems can be difficult.” Nonetheless, for many shoulder problems, extensive non-surgical treatment is recommended before surgery is considered.

Edwards endured six years of conservative medical treatment, but got nowhere. When she learned that Andrea Bowers, MD, a Virtua orthopaedic surgeon specialty-trained in the management of shoulder injury and disease had arrived at Virtua, she quickly made an appointment.

Dr. Bowers says: “By the time I saw Mrs. Edwards, she had been through years of injections and physical therapy. For her, surgery was a reasonable clinical option, so I proposed a shoulder replacement procedure to restore her mobility and quality of life.”

Edwards had heard of knee and hip replacements, “but never anything about shoulder replacement surgery,” she says. “Dr. Bowers explained everything about the procedure, step by step, until I was comfortable with the idea.”

“Shoulder replacement surgery is highly technical, so extensive pre-surgical evaluation must be performed. The plan was to correct Mrs. Edwards’ left shoulder first. After she healed, we would replace the right one later on,” says Dr. Bowers.

According to Mrs. Edwards, the procedure was a huge success. “I still can’t believe that just a few months after surgery, I have no pain. I am still cautious about using it, but very optimistic. I keep waiting for the pain that never comes.”