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Outpatient Shoulder Replacement Surgery at 70: Mary Lou’s Story

Dr. Werner moves Mary Lou's shoulder and arm after her outpatient shoulder replacement surgery

Mary Lou Stearns contributed this post. She lives in Albemarle County.

I had been having joint pain in my shoulder for several months. I thought I pulled a muscle, but when I started having a range of motion issues, I knew it was something much more serious. I wondered if a shoulder replacement might be in my future.

I was unable to carry or lift anything over a few pounds. I could not reach up to get something, reach behind my back, or put on my seat belt without pain.

I saw my doctor. She gave me an X-ray and diagnosed me with severe arthritis.

I went to physical therapy for several months and constantly used heat and ice to help the pain. I got a cortisone shot. Unfortunately, none of these things worked. I finally scheduled an appointment with Dr. Brian Werner, an orthopedic surgeon. I volunteer at the UVA Breast Care Center, so I knew that there are two shoulder replacement surgeons, and both have good reputations.

A Shoulder Replacement During the Coronavirus Pandemic

I realized I needed to consider shoulder replacement surgery, but I was concerned that being 70 years old would affect the outcome. However, Dr. Warner answered all my questions and concerns and reviewed my medical history. He felt I was a good candidate for outpatient shoulder replacement surgery, meaning I wouldn’t even have to spend the night in the hospital. At that moment, I had no reservations. I was ready to move forward.

I was not very concerned about COVID-19 because I knew all the measures that UVA was taking to protect patients. Before I could come into the building for my appointments, employees checked my temperature and asked about travel and if I was feeling sick. I had to wear a mask to my appointments and noticed they were limiting the number of people allowed in the hospital.

My only concern was that I am 70 years old, but that didn’t affect the surgery or recovery.

My Surgery Experience

My surgery was done on July 23 with no problems. Dr. Werner and all other doctors and nurses that came in my room were very professional and kind. They explained what they would be doing and asked if I had any question or concerns.

It also made me very comfortable that my daughter was in the room with me until I was taken into the operating room. Dr. Werner updated my daughter right after the surgery and spoke with both of us in the recovery room.  

A few days later, the anesthesiologist contacted me to make sure I was doing fine and not having any problems. I appreciated his reaching out to me.

After two weeks, my pain was gone! My range of motion was also much better.

I am so thankful to Dr. Werner and all the doctors and nurses who assisted him with my surgery. I am now able to be active with my grandchildren and continue volunteering.  

Having Shoulder Pain? Here’s My Advice

Having Joint Pain?

If your joint pain is stopping you from enjoying activities, it's time to see a doctor. Check your pain level with this quiz.

I would advise anyone considering this surgery that if you have tried other options and they haven’t worked, consider surgery. Make sure all your questions and concerns are answered. Have a family member be with you to also ask questions. If your surgeon feels this surgery will help you, then seriously consider it.  

It was definitely the best thing for me, as I now have my quality of life back. My range of motion is already 100 percent better and my pain is gone.

I continue to go to physical therapy to build back my strength, but I can already do all the things I couldn’t do before. I can’t thank Dr. Werner and the UVA staff enough for all they did for me.

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