An in-depth interview with Dr. James Shaffer – Part 2 of 4

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Dr. James Shaffer, board certified orthopedic surgeon

Dr. James Shaffer, Shoulder Surgeon


Dr. James Shaffer was recently interviewed on WEEU’s “Health Talk” program.  Here is the second of four excerpts from the interview, full of helpful information relating to shoulder treatment and surgery.


Question:  What is the #1 shoulder issue you see in your office?

Dr. Shaffer: Rotator cuff disease is the most common issue I see in my practice.


Question: What can cause rotator cuff issues?

Dr. Shaffer: It can be a variety of things. Some people have a specific traumatic event. That’s relatively infrequent, but typically that’s a younger patient who perhaps dislocates their shoulder and tears the rotator cuff or otherwise has some sort of specific injury. Most of the time it’s a wear and tear problem, where with age the tendon wears out and they end up with a tear in the rotator cuff that probably starts small but eventually over time these tears get larger.  Eventually, that can progress to a tear that cannot be repaired and finally to arthritis of the shoulder as a result of that tear.


Question: For a patient with rotator cuff issues, what can be done to manage the issues short of surgery?

Dr. Shaffer: Most of these issues, if it’s short of a major tear, can involve an anti-inflammatory component and a mechanical component. Certainly, for the mechanical component that’s going to require physical therapy. In terms of the stabilizing function of the rotator cuff, the position of the shoulder blade and a patient’s posture, those things are almost always a problem to some degree and need to be dealt with through therapy, but often times people have a lot of pain in their shoulder so they’re hesitant to go to therapy, that they might struggle when they first get there and so we also have to attack that pain and usually that’s with something the directly goes after inflammation.



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