Shoulder injury is common in the NFL, as any diehard sports fans can testify.  The video showing such injuries may be so graphic that many fans even wonder if the player will ever return to form, especially for NFL quarterbacks.

A new study has found encouraging news. Orthopedic shoulder surgery shows an overwhelming success rate among professional athletes:

The new study included 60 players who had shoulder stabilization surgery. Ninety percent of those who had this procedure successfully returned to play, defined as playing in at least one regular season game. The return rate was 82 percent for those who had open surgery and 92 percent for those who had minimally invasive (arthroscopic) surgery

These are numbers which should please anyone who plays, or is invested in, football on a competitive level. They also serve as a reminder that shoulder surgery is a safe and effective way to relieve pain and reclaim movement, no matter if you are a weekend warrior or a professional linebacker.

To learn more about shoulder surgery in San Diego, contact my practice today.


Frozen shoulder, otherwise known as adhesive capsulitis, is a painful and paralyzing shoulder condition. Although it can take weeks or even months to fully develop, most people find the initial symptoms concerning enough to seek help.

The simple truth is that this is a terrible ailment that can take upwards of a year to resolve.  Patients with diabetes and/or hypothyroidism, especially women, are particularly vulnerable to this problem.  It may start as a result of a simple slip and fall or other seemingly insignificant shoulder injury.  The pain is extraordinarily high and profoundly limits life style.  Often times the patients find that they cannot sleep through the night, they have pain reaching behind them for hygiene or dressing, and they have pain reaching overhead.

But what kind of help is considered the most effective course of treatment? I have written before about the vast benefits of shoulder exercises for orthopedic pain, and about the growing consensus that pain relief can be covered at home nearly as well as it can at the hospital or clinic. Now researchers have found good evidence that simple exercise can be a “drug” all its own.  In this study exercise was used as a treatment measure in various settings.  After dividing patients with frozen shoulder into three groups – some patients were placed in an exercise class; a second group were to perform individual physical therapy; a third group were to perform individual home exercises.  Researchers found the most dramatic improvement among the group exercisers:

They discovered improvement in the exercise class group from a mean Constant Score of 39.8 at baseline to 71.4 at 6 weeks and 88.1 at 1 year, as well as a significant improvement in shoulder symptoms in the Oxford and Constant scores compared to the individual physiotherapy or home exercises alone groups.

This is a good sign that getting out of the house and remaining active can help to “thaw” a frozen shoulder, and may also prevent further recurrence of the problem. If you’d like to learn more about the latest advances in shoulder pain management, please contact my San Diego orthopedic shoulder surgery offices today.


Orthopedic shoulder surgery can be an effective remedy for acute injury or for chronic pain and stiffness, but it’s a tool of last resort. Given the time commitment and lengthy recovery period, most patients would much rather try other strategies to avoid time in the OR.

The Web abounds with stories of shoulder pain sufferers who sought pain relief without medical interventions. This latest from the Los Angeles Times does a nice job of covering the full menu of options available to people in most cities. The highlight for me? This quote, which describes the basic problem of postures and inactivity that have become a national epidemic:

“What we are doing today does not support our eons of evolution,” said Heath Reed, a licensed massage and yoga therapist who practices in Phoenix. “There is no way our biology can keep up with technology. The lack of movement at all is our first problem. The secondary problem is our dysfunctional movement.”

I encourage you to read the full piece for a nicely balanced discussion of various interventions such as massage, exercise, physical therapy and Rolfing. Some additional tools to consider include Alexander technique and Feldenkrais.  And when you’d like to get checked out by an expert San Diego orthopedic surgeon, contact my offices today.


Calcific tendinits is an extraordinarily painful shoulder condition that deposits calcium crystals into the rotator cuff tendons.  This leads to subacromial bursitis.  A recent study was performed to determine whether shoulder pain from calcific tendinits could be relieved without surgery, through a technique known as shock wave therapy.

Tufts Medical Center researchers reviewed 28 clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of the therapy, which can be performed in a doctor’s office, and found that it was effective for a specific form of the condition where calcifications were present on an imaging scan of the tendons. The researchers also found that high-energy shock therapy worked better than the low-energy method, according to the results published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

This is a preliminary finding, but one which could eventually change the lives of many patients who suffer with the abiding agony of rotator cuff pain caused by calcific tendinits. Although the FDA has yet to approve shock wave therapy for this purpose, further trials are already in the works.  Currently shock wave therapy is used to treat achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis.

In the meantime, contact your San Diego orthopedic surgeon to learn more about the best options available today.

© 2023 Dr. Robert Afra – San Diego Orthopedic Surgery Shoulder – Knee – Elbow