HealthWatch: Shoulder Surgery

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Green Bay (WFRV) Broken shoulders are the 4th most common injury that are seen and treated in the emergency department.  

But when do you let the break heal on it’s own or when should you choose surgery? 

Shoulder fractures where the bones are not displaced can heal without surgery. If the bones are displaced surgery might be required to get the bone to heal in a better position. 

Lynn Seidl has been playing piano for decades, “Piano is really important, I taught school in the music department for 37 years and I still freelance as a piano player,” said Lynn Seidl, Patient.

Lynn was close to losing her ability to play. In January she fell on the ice, “My feet slipped and went that direction and landed squarely on my shoulder,” Lynn knew she had hurt herself, “When I sat up my arm was virtually useless.”

So Lynn went to Aurora BayCare Medical Center and Dr. Sean Hennigan, an orthopedic surgeon who is Fellowship trained in shoulder surgery, “She had fractured part of her upper arm, she had this fracture that had gone on to displace so it was deemed to be an unstable fracture,” explained  Sean Hennigan, orthopedic surgeon, Aurora BayCare Medical Center.

If the fracture was left to heal on it’s own, most likely “It would have healed but it would not have healed in the correct position and she would have a fairly significant amount of functional loss and impairment using her arm,” said Dr. Hennigan.

Not something Lynn wanted “I didn’t want to lose playing piano,” said Lynn.

So Lynn chose to have her shoulder surgically repaired, “We went in and we surgically realigned the bones and we fixed them together with a plate and some screws. The whole purpose of the implant is just to hold the bone in the correct position so the body can heal it there,” explained Dr. Hennigan.

Following surgery, Lynn had to have occupational therapy – which she still continues at home, “It’s really important to try and get back the flexibility and work on the strength,” said Dr. Hennigan.

Dr. Hennigan says Lynn’s shoulder function is already 80% to 85% back to normal and will still improve, “Certainly her functional use of her arm, the strength in her arm, the ease of which she moves the arm, all those things I expect to continue to improve over the next 6 to 8 months,” said Dr. Hennigan.

Lynn is glad she had surgery.  And within months she was back to tickling the ivories, “I’ve played weddings since then, I’ve been playing for church on the weekends, so I’m back to where I was,” Lynn said happily.

Dr. Hennigan says full recovery for this type of surgery is typically around 6 months with improvements expected for up to a year after surgery.

To learn more you can call AuroraBayCare at 866-938-0035 or email healthwatch@aurorabaycare.com. 

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