Shoulder Replacement Helps Jerry Gross: ‘I’m Not Limited by Anything’
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In high school, Jerry Gross played baseball. Over and over again, he tossed fastballs, curveballs and sliders. He didn’t know it at the time, but each pitch stressed his shoulder joint, eventually damaging the protective cartilage cushioning the ends of the bones.
Over the years, Gross remained active, playing and coaching basketball and other sports. With his son, he ran Jerry Gross & Son Landscaping, and he loved doing physical labor outdoors. But by his late 60s, the damage done during his years as a pitcher caught up to him, leaving his right shoulder stiff and painful. The diagnosis: osteoarthritis, the wearing away of a joint.
“My family doctor told me several times to talk to an orthopedist about a shoulder replacement, but I just kept putting it off,” Gross says.
Gross’ ability to use his right arm continued to diminish, and physical therapy and other nonsurgical solutions failed to help. Eventually, on the recommendation of a physician friend, Gross made an appointment at Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Center for Orthopedic Medicine with orthopedic surgeon Neal Stansbury, MD, of LVPG Orthopedics and Sports Medicine.
By then it was difficult for Gross to pull the cords on the lawn mowers at work. “The pain was taking away all my enjoyment of being outdoors,” he says. “My shoulder problem was dragging me down and making me feel old. I was too young to feel that old.”
Because Gross was so limited by his near constant pain, and because other treatments failed to help, Stansbury recommended shoulder replacement surgery. “When people hear about joint replacement, they often think of knees and hips,” Stansbury says. “Most people don’t even know that shoulder replacements exist or how much they can help restore comfort.”
During a total shoulder replacement, the damaged parts of the shoulder are removed and replaced with artificial material. “It’s a very successful surgery, and can give someone 10 to 15 more years with a functional shoulder,” Stansbury says. Most patients are back to normal within three months.
It’s been several years since Gross’ shoulder surgery, and he is back to the life he loves. “I’m not limited by anything,” he says. “I’m just amazed.”