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Swinging Back into Life

In her backyard, Sharon McCarthy swings her driver, testing out her balance and power.

For the past few years, the avid golfer had to live with excruciating pain every time she hit the course. But this winter, she’s looking forward to having a chance to play nine or even 18 holes during her Arizona vacation with the freedom of a new shoulder.

“I’m ready to golf,” she says, trying out her swing. “Life is so much better today.”

A growing pain

The retired nurse had been having trouble with her left shoulder for over five years. At first it was just an occasional twinge, but eventually the pain from arthritis in the joint got so bad that over-the-counter pain relievers weren’t helping anymore. Physical therapy and treatments like cortisone shots didn’t give her any relief.

“I continued to play golf and do everything I wanted, but the pain just got worse,” said the 69-year-old Sioux Falls woman. “I got pretty good doing everything with one hand.”

Limits to life

Sharon could no longer lift her arm above her head, making simple jobs like making her bed or putting dishes away in the cupboard almost impossible. She had to prop her arm on the countertop to even curl her hair. Her golf clubs stayed in the closet.

“I was to the point where I was miserable and not able to do anything,” Sharon said. “It was time to replace that shoulder.”

The retired nurse did some research into the surgery, reading about the procedure and consulting with a friend who had undergone the surgery to put in a prosthetic shoulder joint. She consulted with Dr. Jason Hurd, of Sanford Orthopedics & Sports Medicine who answered all her questions.

“He was really helpful and I felt good about what he was going to do,” Sharon said. “There was no doubt in my mind that this was the right decision for me.”

Fixing the problem

In June, Dr. Jason Hurd did the procedure to replace her arthritic joint surface with a metal ball attached to a stem and a plastic socket. She followed the surgery with physical therapy with Sanford Teamwork Physical Therapy twice a week for four months.

“It was not a piece of cake,” Sharon said. “You work hard at it and do everything they say so you’ll get better.”

Soon she was feeling so much better that she began sneaking her clubs back out for a few “test swings” in her great room, just to see if she could do it. The shoulder felt good, but when the doctor told her to let the clubs sit for another month, she followed directions, she says.

“I was good and put them away until the shoulder was finished healing,” Sharon says.

Before her surgery, Sharon had been gradually limiting her activity. She realized that she had been stopped from doing the things she wanted to do, because she’d be unable to put on her own coat or even buckle her own seatbelt if she sat in the wrong spot in the car.

“You just don’t realize how much the constant pain has affected your life until it’s better,” she said.

Today, Sharon is looking forward to her annual trip to Arizona. This year she’ll have her golf without the pain.

“It’s hard to believe the difference I’ve seen in just a few months,” Sharon said. “I tell people I’d do it again without hesitation.”

Posted Date: December 2011