Each year, we are proud and grateful for the opportunity to help hundreds of area residents find relief from joint and spine problems. Here are just a few of the many Shawnee Mission Orthopedic & Spine Center success stories - shared by patients and their doctors. This is a continuation from a feature story in the Winter 2014 edition of Living Healthy magazine.
For years, Shannon Brisendine – who is actually a long-time associate at Shawnee Mission Medical Center – assumed that her shoulder pain was something she would just have to live with. While there was no single event that injured her shoulder, she was consistently affected by the pain, which became more frequent and more severe over time.
“I used to do some shoulder exercises, which really helped for a while,” Brisendine states. “But they didn’t seem to work this time around.”
So last summer, Brisendine did some research, and made an appointment with Shawnee Mission Orthopedic & Spine Center specialist Jacob Stueve, MD. As he explains, his focus on shoulders began with his own shoulder problems.
“During my football career as a tight end at the University of Missouri,” Stueve states, “I suffered two shoulder injuries that required surgery, which got me interested in orthopedics. During my residency, I became even more fascinated with the shoulder joint. It’s more complex than most other joints, and the field still has plenty of room for innovation and improvement in diagnosis, management techniques and strategies.”
“I had heard a lot of good things about Dr. Stueve before I met with him,” says Brisendine. “But I was really impressed with how nice he was. And I appreciated that he didn’t recommend surgery immediately.”
Brisendine had considerable arthritis in her shoulder from a loss of the cartilage in the joint. “As this condition worsens,” explains Stueve, “the pain increases and motion becomes more restricted.”
“We looked at less invasive, non-operative ways of helping Shannon deal with the severe arthritis in her shoulder,” continues Stueve. “But she continued to have severe pain. That’s when we decided together that a shoulder replacement was her best option.”
Shoulder replacement is the removal of the arthritic joint surface and replacement with smooth mechanical parts to rid the patient of arthritis pain and improve their function.
To help Brisendine prepare for her surgery, she received and read a lot of educational information about what to expect from Stueve’s office.
On October 1, Brisendine underwent total shoulder replacement and is improving as expected.
“For the first month and a half,” says Brisendine, “I could only exercise with my arm from the elbow down -- nothing involving the shoulder. But by working with the physical therapists, I am improving every day. My range of motion is getting better, my strength is improving and the pain continues to decrease.”
Brisendine adds, "I really appreciate the opportunity to express my gratitude for the great work Dr. Stueve has done and the wonderful work the physical therapists do to return people to normal life."
Area resident Larry Paddy had always had bad knees, even as a kid. But after more than four decades of physically demanding labor, he was suffering from severe joint problems in his knees and hips.
“It was so frustrating, I couldn’t even make it to the mailbox anymore,” says Paddy.
Paddy’s doctor, Burrel Gaddy, MD, adds that, ” Larry was someone who didn’t know what his options were. He accepted the pain and discomfort for years because he didn’t know what could be done.”
As with all patients of the Shawnee Mission Orthopedic & Spine Center, conservative treatments were pursued first for Paddy. “We practice conservative care here at the Shawnee Mission Orthopedic & Spine Center,” states Dr. Gaddy. “The decision to have surgery is the end point of treatment, not the beginning.”
In addition to physical therapy, Paddy tried using a cane and then a walker to help him get around. Eventually though, Paddy says that he “couldn’t stand living with the pain and inconvenience any more.”
At that point, it became clear that surgery was the only solution for Paddy.
In 2012, Dr. Gaddy performed hip replacement surgery on both of Paddy’s hips, and early in 2013, performed two knee replacements.
In Paddy’s view, the procedures have given him his life back. “It’s just been a dream ever since the surgery,” says Paddy. “I’m now walking an hour a day, five to six days a week. And I really can’t tell there’s anything different with my body. It all feels so natural.”
While Paddy is eager to commend the quality of the work that was performed and the friendly, compassionate treatment he received, Dr. Gaddy is quick to point out that, “Paddy took an active part in his recovery by losing weight before his surgery, which greatly helped his recovery.”
As Dr. Gaddy explains, “It was an unwritten partnership. He should be celebrated for what he’s done, as much as for what we’ve done.”
Every job has its challenges. But when you’re also dealing with excruciating back pain, it’s tough to be at your best.
That’s the situation Roxane Stueve faced every day for nearly a decade, as lower back problems – including shooting pains in her sciatic nerve – began to jeopardize her career.
“The thing that began to worry me the most,” recalls Stueve, “was thinking that, if I feel this badly now, what’s it going to be like next year? Or in five years? I couldn’t imagine.”
Thankfully, Stueve was referred to spine specialist and surgeon, John Ciccarelli, MD, at Shawnee Mission Medical Center’s (SMMC) Orthopedic & Spine Center.
Even in medical school, Ciccarelli was drawn to orthopedic surgery. “I liked the ‘giving back’ function,” he says, “helping patients return to their quality of life."
“Of course,” he continues, “the spine presents a special challenge because it’s involved with all our movements. And unlike other orthopedic treatments for joints, spines cannot be replaced.”
In Stueve’s case, Ciccarelli states that, “Surgery is always the last and final option. But for her, none of the other treatments were helping.”
Ciccarelli diagnosed her problem and recommended a Lumbar Fusion Surgery -- fusing the L4, L5 and S1 vertebrae -- which would allow her spine to move without compressing the nerves.
Stueve states unequivocally that, “The spine surgery was literally a life-changing experience.”
Actually, the surgery was only the first part of Stueve’s comeback. The second part was her responsibility – to get up and active as soon as possible.
That’s why Stueve was “up cruising with a walker the first day after surgery,” she says. “I quickly found that while I wasn’t pain free, movement actually helped relieve the pain. As a result, I was able to resume my job duties in just over two weeks.”
From Ciccarelli’s perspective, “Roxane Stueve is a poster child for having tried everything possible before considering surgery, and then for committing herself to the fullest recovery possible.”