It wasn't that long ago when Dallas teacher Tommie Hylkema had to support her arm just to write on the board in her classroom.
After years of renovating houses and working on a farm, Hylkema's shoulder had simply wore out.
“I couldn't do household chores,” said Hylkema, who used to live in Double Oak. “Everything I did had to be with my left hand. I couldn't even pick up a bag of dirt.”
Hylkema received an injection to help with the pain, and that lasted about six months. The second injection only lasted a week.
But a trip to Dr. Ian Wilkofsky of Orthopedic Associates in Flower Mound proved to be just what she needed. Wilkofsky talked with Hylkema about shoulder replacement surgery, a procedure that at one time was invasive and not done often.
But a new procedure has made it a more attractive, and less painful option for those with severe arthritis or shoulder pain.
The procedure is called Simpliciti, which Wilkofsky said is the only FDA-approved stemless shoulder replacement operation.
“The reason it's harder than hip or knee replacement is because you have to gain access to the socket,” Wilkofsky said. “But as knowledge of the anatomy gets better, it becomes a more common procedure.”
Wilkofsky said advancements have allowed shoulder replacement surgery to take place with less pain and a shorter recovery time.
“They used to use a stem that went halfway down the arm,” Wilkofsky said. “That stem went further into the bone, so you lose blood. Plus the geometry of the shoulder is harder to match. But with new implants, rather than going into the bone, we use three small stems that take up less space. If you do it later, you still have bone to work with. And you don't have to match the stem to the person. You tailor it to match it to the person's anatomy. So it's faster, there's less blood and it hurts less because there's less surgery.”
Wilkofsky said typically patients remain in a sling for about a month, and by three months they can resume certain activities such as playing golf and lifting weights.
Hylkema said after a 12-week recovery period, she has no limitations, and the only pain she has experienced is muscle soreness from physical therapy.
“After the third day (after surgery), I was on no pain pills,” Hylkema said.
Wilkofsky said not every surgeon performs the newer surgery.
“A lot of them don't want to switch,” Wilkofsky said. “But the proof is in the pudding for me.”
Wilkofsky said the procedure is still considered relatively new.
“In the orthopedic world, once things catch on, they're copied,” Wilkofsky said. “It's becoming more common because people are living longer.”
Hylkema said she's glad the new surgery is available.
“I heard horror stories about the old way,” Hylkema said. “It looked brutal. But now with the new implants, I didn't have to.”