The orthopedic team at University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center can get your shoulder back in the swing of things

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John Martin “Marty” Leland, MD, a double board-certified orthopedic surgeon at UH Geauga Medical Center, specializes in treating, and relieving, shoulder pain. (Photography: Benjamin Margalit)

By Ken McEntee

John Martin “Marty” Leland, MD, compares a rotator cuff to your favorite pair of jeans.

“You take good care of them. You don’t crawl around on your knees or anything. But after a few years, just from everyday wear, you eventually get a hole in the knee,” says Dr. Leland, an orthopedic shoulder and knee sports medicine surgeon at University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center. “More than 60 percent of people over the age of 60 have some tearing of their rotator cuff without having had any injury or trauma. And some of them don’t even feel any pain.”

Your rotator cuff is the group of muscles and tendons that support your arm bone in your shoulder socket. If someone in their 30s or younger tears their rotator cuff, it’s almost always from a severe injury. But people in their late 40s and into their 60s commonly have partial or complete tearing of their rotator cuffs from normal wear and tear, Dr. Leland explains.

“Some people don’t even know they have tearing because they don’t have any pain,” he says. “Those who do might experience a nagging pain—usually down the outside of their arm rather than in the shoulder joint itself. Some people have difficulty raising their arm.”

People who have such pain often assume they need surgery.

Not necessarily so, Dr. Leland says.

“I like to start out treating just about everyone non-operatively to see if we can make them better and make the pain go away,” he explains. “Before I even order an MRI, I usually start people out with anti-inflammatories like Advil or Aleve and prescribe physical therapy to work on range of motion of the shoulder and strengthening the rotator cuff. A powerful anti-inflammatory injection in the shoulder is recommended as well. Usually, just treating the inflammation will be enough, then it’s basically a situation where they can just call me if they need me.”

Those who continue to have pain will likely have an MRI done to determine if there is a complete tear in the rotator cuff. Surgery, if necessary to repair the rotator cuff tear, is typically done as an outpatient with a relatively quick recovery time, Dr. Leland assures.

“Twenty to 30 years ago, I would hear horror stories about how shoulder surgery was worse than childbirth,” he says. “It’s not like that anymore. With the use of anesthesia and special blocks to numb the pain for a day or two after surgery, patients may have some discomfort after surgery, but it’s really not extremely painful. Typically, it’s very successful in terms of getting people back to normal doing all the things that they want to do in their daily lives.”

Surgery is always performed arthroscopically though small incisions that are less than a half-inch long.

UH Geauga Medical Center, Dr. Leland says, is an ideal place to have shoulder surgery done.

“We are a community hospital with a wonderful feel to it,” he says. “Everyone here, from the greeters at the front door, to the pre-op and post-op nurses, to the rest of the staff, really cares about the outcomes of our patients. We don’t treat people like numbers here.”

Dr. Leland is one of the few orthopedic surgeons in the region who is double board certified in both orthopedic surgery and orthopedic sports medicine.

If you experience shoulder or arm pain, you can schedule an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon by calling 216-983-PLAY. You can learn more about UH orthopedic and sports medicine services by visiting UHSports.org. UH Geauga Medical Center is located at 13207 Ravenna Road, in Chardon.

Categories: Health & Wellness