For Warren Williams, fly-fishing is a spiritual experience. He likens it to poetry and says that nature is simply where he belongs.
Unfortunately, fly-fishing had become very painful for Williams. His left shoulder had developed bone spurs and osteoarthritis, causing him pain and decreased range of motion.
Dr. Amarpal Arora, an orthopedic surgeon affiliated with Sharp Coronado Hospital, performed a total shoulder replacement on Williams, replacing the ball component and socket to mimic the natural anatomy of his shoulder. The surgery allowed Williams full range of motion without pain or dysfunction.
“The pain was limiting his life, and now he can go out into nature,” says Dr. Arora. “He can immerse himself and he doesn’t have to focus on the shoulder.”
According to Dr. Arora, the ideal candidate for a total shoulder replacement like Williams’ is a patient who has evidence of osteoarthritis of the shoulder joint with symptoms including pain and stiffness that are interfering with daily living activities. If symptoms have not been adequately controlled with nonoperative treatment including physical therapy, cortisone injections or pain medicine, a total shoulder replacement can be considered. However, shoulder arthritis is a complex diagnosis, and the treatment and overall outcomes will vary between patients.
“Warren came to us after exhausting his nonoperative treatment,” says Dr. Arora. “He continued to have pain and stiffness that was affecting his overall function. It is possible that those symptoms would have gotten worse and he may not be able to engage in the activities he wanted to do without the pain he was experiencing.”
Dr. Arora says that shoulder replacement patients can expect good improvement in pain, strength and function four to six months after the surgery with continued improvement up to — and sometimes beyond — the one-year mark from surgery. The goal of the surgery is to improve the quality of life for the patient and this can be different for each patient.
“For some, a successful surgery means not living with pain on a day-to-day basis or, perhaps, decreasing the need of taking pain medication,” he says. “For others, it may mean going back to activities that they have enjoyed in the past but that they were not able to do because of the severe pain and dysfunction.”
According to Williams, the surgery meant he could get back to doing what he loves. “There is just no problem at all, anymore,” he says, casting his line. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”