Needing shoulder surgery is not only a difficult decision to make, but it’s also one that most orthopedic surgeons see as a last resort. Because of its location on the body and the complex joint that makes up your shoulder area, it is one of the hardest places to recover after surgery. There’s also the possibility that – depending on your injury and damage – your shoulder may never be 100% again, even after surgery.
Given the long rehabilitation and recovery period and the pain post surgery, your doctor will want to explore all possible treatments before settling on shoulder surgery. What other options might your orthopedic surgeon decide to try before recommending surgery?
Control the pain
Given that pain and limited mobility might be the most significant hindrances of a shoulder injury, your doctor will want to treat the pain that is affecting you most. Pain medication, over-the-counter NSAIDs and cortisone injections in the affected area are some of the ways that doctors can help alleviate your pain – and without pain and inflammation holding you back, you might get more range of motion.
Strength and conditioning
Of course, you would need extensive rehab after surgery, but before surgery is recommended, your doctor will probably try strengthening the affected area. Through a structured conditioning program with a physical therapist, there is no reason why the muscles in and around your shoulder can’t strengthen to help improve your mobility.
While this doesn’t sound ideal for the athletes that are impatient and ready to get back to their activities, sometimes all your muscles and/or injured ligaments may need is rest. They might be overworked, and that could be what is leading you to experience pain and weakness. Alternating cold and ice regularly, and using the affected shoulder as little as possible might be one last resort before surgery.
Stem cell treatment
Though still very experimental, many orthopedic doctors that have been offering stem cell therapy to their patients are seeing improvements from injuries and degenerative issues. Still less invasive than surgery, it requires a few shots of cells into the affected area, and if successful, could jumpstart the healing process. Again, it’s still very experimental so results are based on mounting evidence from continued research and application, so talk to your doctor for more information.
If you are experiencing shoulder pain and you are weighing all your options before opting for shoulder surgery, talk to our orthopedic specialists. We have offices in Little Rock and North Little Rock, and offer onsite MRI and physical therapy, which helps make the process as seamless as possible. To schedule an appointment, call (800) 336-2412 or use our Online Appointment Request Form.