In the Right Direction

Reverse shoulder replacement ends pain, restores range of motion.

Steven Sawicki

A survey conducted by the RAND Corp. showed that nearly 40 percent of retirees give up their life of leisure and return to work. Some rejoin the workforce because they have to, while others simply become bored.

Steven Sawicki, 67, fell into the latter category.

“I tried retirement,” Steven explains. “I really did. I tried it for a year and a half and came to the realization that it really stinks. I mean, I love to fish, but even with that I thought, How much of this can one guy do? Retirement just wasn’t for me.”

Steven didn’t retire from a particular profession. He held dozens of job titles and maintained that approach during his unretirement, working first for Publix and now a wholesale florist.

His current job keeps him busy enough to avoid boredom and allows the free time to enjoy his favorite activities, most of which involve the outdoors.

“I used to hike a lot when I lived in Colorado and Tennessee, but there’s only flatlands in Florida and that’s not much fun,” Steven relates. “I pretty much stick to watersports like kayaking, which is one of the things I really love.”

Steven loves kayaking so much that to partake he fought through bothersome right shoulder pain. Truth be known, the pain was there for years, no matter the activity.

“I had to learn to adapt,” Steven says. “For years, I just tried to limit my arm movement as much as I could, but you need your arms sometimes. About a year ago, while painting my cousin’s laundry room, I got this real sharp pain. It was like no pain I’d ever experienced in my shoulder. It was so bad that I couldn’t even lift my arm. That’s when I knew the time had come for me to finally do something about it.”

Through his doctor with Veterans Affairs, Steven was given a choice of specialists to care for his shoulder. When he saw Advanced Orthopedic Center on the list, he decided to go there.

“I chose Advanced Orthopedic Center because my wife had her shoulder treated by Dr. Stchur there a few years ago, and she was very pleased with his work,” Steven recounts. “When I went there, I asked if I could see Dr. Stchur as well.”

Transfer of Power

After examining Steven and reviewing his x-rays, Robert P. Stchur, MD, determined the shoulder was beyond repair. As a result, Dr. Stchur recommended reverse total shoulder replacement surgery.

Approved for use in the US in 2003, the procedure is considered the best option for patients with damage so great that the arm cannot move away from the body or raise above the head.

In a healthy shoulder, the muscles and tendons in the rotator cuff work together to power the process of raising and rotating the arm. The reverse replacement procedure transfers that task to the deltoid through the use of a device that places a metallic ball where the socket was and the socket where the ball was.

“In the normal shoulder, there’s a big ball in a very small socket,” Dr. Stchur educates. “It’s a lot like a golf ball on a tee, which makes it extremely unstable, and it’s a weak rotator on its own because there’s no good fulcrum there. By flipping the construction, you create a better fulcrum so the arm just pivots right up when the deltoid fires.”

Dr. Stchur (pronounced Sure) recommends reverse total shoulder replacement surgery for anyone with severe rotator cuff damage. It’s also a good option for patients with chronic dislocations of the shoulder joint or complex fractures of the joint, or previously had conventional replacement surgery that failed.

“The implant I use is called the Wright Ascend Flex Shoulder system, and one of its benefits is that it offers more range of motion than previous implants,” Dr. Stchur informs.

“It also provides a better cosmetic look because it gives a more rounded shoulder. And if for any reason you ever had to take it out, it comes out easier than other implants.”

Another benefit is recovery time. Dr. Stchur says it is “shockingly faster” than standard repair options because the new joint is made of metal and plastic components that stick to the bones and allow for almost immediate normal use of the shoulder.

Speedy Recovery

Steven is among those who quickly resumed normal use of the joint. He had surgery in early December 2020 and within 10 days had regained near-full range of motion with no pain. He is still rebuilding strength, but all other shoulder issues are a thing of the past.

“When I visited Dr. Stchur for my two-week postsurgery checkup, he said, Lift your arm, and I shot my arm right up into the air,” Steven recalls. “I’m doing quite well. I consider myself fortunate to have had this done by Dr. Stchur at Advanced Orthopedic Center.

“From start to finish, everything went seamlessly between Dr. Stchur, the hospital and all the people who helped me out. It was a great experience. I recommend Dr. Stchur and Advanced Orthopedic Center without a doubt. Dr. Stchur is the nicest guy, and I knew he would take great care of me.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photo courtesy of Steven Sawicki. js
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    • Advanced Orthopedic Center

      Whether you are a professional or collegiate athlete, an active retiree, a "weekend warrior," a high school football star or a hard-working employee anxious to make a difference, the Advanced Orthopedic Center is here to help you feel better a... Read More

    • Robert P. Stchur, MD

      Robert P. Stchur, MD, is a Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon. He joined The Advanced Orthopedic Center in 2004. He completed a Sports Medicine fellowship at the Lake Tahoe Sports Medicine Program. He is originally from Michigan and received h... Read More