July 10, 2018

It’s Time to do Something About This Painful Shoulder

By Dr. Todd Parry

Getting our hand where it needs to be, to reach, grab, hug and swing a club initiates at the shoulder. But, when it wears out, it doesn’t just keep you from throwing baseballs, it hurts. It will start to hurt to take off a shirt, hold a gallon of milk, or even just to sleep.

After you’ve exhausted your situation with stretching and therapy (a video of shoulder stretches and strengthening exercises I recommend can be found at https://reverehealth.com/doctors/todd-parry-md) as well as injections with cortisone or stem cells, there are corrective options. The options available are based on what part of the shoulder is causing the problem. Some of the more common advanced conditions can be:

• Standard rotator cuff (RC) tear

• Long standing RC tear, that has lost its “window of opportunity” to be fixed

• RC tear that has been there so long that the abnormal motion has led to arthritis

• General wearing out of the cartilage from a life well lived, osteoarthritis

Let’s briefly outline how these various problems can be corrected:

• RC tear – This is when the tendon of the deep muscles of the shoulder pulls off of the bone. It can’t reattach itself. The muscle continues to slowly pull the tendon away. We can roughen the bone surface to make it bleed, and reattach that tendon back to where it is suppose to go.

• Retracted RC tear – if one ignores the problem too long that tendon pulls far away from its attachment site and the muscle scars in that shortened position. We then need to use a graft to patch that distance. It can bridge from the tendon to its normal site, or simply go from bone to bone to recreate a new roof for the shoulder

• When the ball and socket of the shoulder has worn away its soft cartilage covering and is down to bone-on-bone, the surfaces have to be replaced with a shoulder replacement. But, if there is no RC to keep the ball centered in the socket we have another option. We reverse the ball and cup surfaces in what is called a Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement. Through some fancy engineering this allows the shoulder to function without a RC.

• When the surfaces are worn and the cuff is intact, then a simple recovering of the surfaces, with a Total Shoulder Replacement, will do the job of alleviating pain and returning function


The shoulder is a wonderfully complex joint. Its function allows us to reach, grab, hug, and swing a club. If your shoulder is not functioning like you need it to, come in and we can sort out what has gone wrong, and what options are available. Appointment can be arranged with Dr. Todd Parry, by calling 628-9393, Coral Desert Orthopedics, with Revere Health.

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