Reverse Shoulder Replacement Surgery

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Produced by Dan Ryan for St Mary’s Medical Center

After 49 years of running his sprinkler business and a lifetime of indulging his passion for fly fishing, Jon Gartz’s joints were wearing out. “My left shoulder started causing me a lot of trouble. Every morning I would wake up with total pain. I couldn’t really function. I couldn’t do the physical work my business requires, and I couldn’t raise my arm like I need to while fishing. I tried the shots, I tried therapy, I tried to just get through it, but there comes a point when you say, ‘I’ve got to have something done.’”

Jon was examined by an orthopedic surgeon who recommended reverse shoulder replacement surgery, but he wanted another opinion. “The reverse procedure seemed like a final solution that would still result in some major limitations and I didn’t want that.”  So, after talking to several people who had had a similar injury, Jon was referred to Dr. Mark Luker at SCL Health Medical Group/Rocky Mountain Orthopedics.

After a thorough examination and review of Jon’s x-rays and MRI scans, Dr. Luker suggested that he consider traditional anatomic shoulder replacement instead. “Surgery was clearly the best course of treatment for Jon because his disease was so advanced and he already had nonoperative treatments that weren’t meeting his expectations,” Dr. Luker explains. “He had enough rotator cuff to work with, wanted a higher level of function and was willing to take a little extra risk to get a really good outcome. So together, we decided the standard shoulder replacement procedure would give him the best chance at getting his life back.”

“Dr. Luker took the time to discuss my options, and it just made sense to do the standard shoulder replacement with some repair to the rotator cuff,” Jon says. “He and his team were fantastic. They explained exactly what was going to take place and all the possible outcomes that I could expect. We made the right decision and I’m very pleased with the results.”

Dr. Luker adds that it truly is a team effort. “Nobody can do this by themselves. We’ve been doing this at Rocky Mountain Orthopedics for 22 years now and my team works very hard to figure out the best course of treatment for our patients and deliver the right kind of care efficiently, effectively, and safely. Jon has high expectations of what he wants to be able to do and our goal was to return him to that place where he can be confident in doing those things.”

Jon says that what he had before surgery was mainly pain. “I couldn’t do the things I really wanted to do like working or rowing a boat or fishing or just being able to lift things. Now I can do all those things.  I’m very happy with what Dr. Luker and his team did for me.”

“It is really gratifying for me to see Jon return to the things he likes to do, especially fishing, because we share that passion,” says Dr. Luker. “It’s one of the great joys of being an orthopedic surgeon:  seeing patients get back to the activities they really love.”

“I just thank Dr. Luker from the bottom of my heart for what he gave me, Jon says. “Because fly fishing means everything to me. If I don’t have that, it’s not a very good world for me.”

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