Tips on Choosing the Best Shoulder Surgeon for You
It is often assumed that shoulder surgeons are orthopedic surgeons who, in addition to five years of orthopedic surgery training, have completed one to two years of shoulder surgery fellowship training. However, general orthopedic surgeons, who have not completed such shoulder surgery fellowship training, are able to perform shoulder surgery. Depending on your comfort level and needs, you may want to inquire about your shoulder surgeon's fellowship training.
At a minimum, you should check with your state medical board to make sure the shoulder surgeons's license is valid and whether he or she has faced any disciplinary action.
You will want to choose a shoulder surgeon who is fellowship trained and board certified in orthopedic surgery. Unlike hand surgery subspecialty, there is no board certification in the subspecialty of shoulder surgery. The field of shoulder surgery involves non-surgical and surgical treatment of orthopedic shoulder conditions and injuries. Orthopedic shoulder specialists are fellowship trained shoulder surgeons who have completed their shoulder fellowship individually or in combination with another fellowship. For example, my fellowship training at the Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center included the entire upper extremity (fingertip to shoulder).
Shoulder surgery involves interdisciplinary approach to shoulder care as the treatment success depends on the shoulder surgeon's technical skill and knowledge, post-surgical shoulder therapy, occupational therapy, and the treatment and management of an underlying medical issue, which may have been the cause for a particular shoulder condition. For example, I have successfully treated patients with frozen shoulder, a very painful shoulder condition. However, in addition to me performing the surgery, the treatment success was a direct result of patient compliance and physical therapy.
Some of the most common shoulder surgery conditions seen in my office are: shoulder arthritis, shoulder fracture, frozen shoulder, shoulder impingement, proximal biceps tendon tear and rotator cuff tears.