PGA Golfer, Joey Snyder Recovery from Frozen Shoulder

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Joey Snyder PGA golfer, has been playing golf ever since he was six years old. Having spent much of his young life practicing his swings in the backyard of his family home, it was always his dream to one day be a PGA Tour Professional. Hoping to one-day play along side some of the greatest champions of the sport, he lived and breathed golf so that he could eventually reach such heights.

Joey has played at every level in golf—junior, amateur, high school and college and has won at each level. He played college golf at Arizona State University and was lucky enough to be a two time All-American champion and a part of the 1996 NCAA Championship team at the Honors course. That summer he also won the Porter Cup Amateur tournament and was ready to turn pro.

Since turning pro in 1996, Joey continued to excel and gain momentum in the sport he loves so much playing on many different tours including the Asian tour, the Canadian tour, the Nationwide tour and finally as a PGA Tour golfer in 2005. On the PGA Tour, Joey Snyder PGA golfer, was one of a very small number of rookies to really make a name for himself.  In one year, he made over a million dollars through his winnings and sponsors. He had 3 top 10’s while being ranked in the top 10 in overall ball-striking.  During this same year, Joey played 31 tournaments and was reaching pinnacle achievements in his career.

Towards the end of 2005, Joey began to develop significant chronic neck and shoulder pain and that eventually led to a frozen shoulder (also referred to as a stiff shoulder). Because he did not want to break up the momentum and the progress he was achieving on the PGA Tour, he brushed off the pain and hoped that with some rest it would eventually go away. As with most over-use injuries, his problems only continued to get worse and his dreams of continuing as a PGA golfer came to a screeching halt.  Still early in his career, and in only his second year of PGA golf, Joey was injured to the point where he could no longer play and the chronic neck and shoulder pain was not going away. This started a long journey that would lead to some heartache and questions about the future.

As with all professional golfers who swing day in and day out, the arm is very susceptible to over-use from the repetitive motions that could lead to an injury such as frozen shoulder. During his specific quest to figure out a diagnosis, Joey went to a countless number of doctors over a two-year timeframe and did not touch a golf club.  For anyone who has a great passion in life, the time spent away from that passion can feel overwhelming. For this Arizona boy, one week of not playing golf was a long time, two years felt like an eternity.
After exhausting the medical route by seeing some of the best neurosurgeons in the country, along with spine surgeons and a slew of shoulder doctors, Joey was left without a concrete diagnosis and he felt his dreams slipping away. For his frozen shoulder, he decided to try non-traditional medicine by looking into chiropractic treatment, applied kinesiologists, rehab specialists, acupuncturists and pain management doctors, but none could relieve the chronic neck and shoulder pain that was being generated from Joey’s injured shoulder.

It was in August 2009 when Joey had a conversation with a fellow golfer and friend that his course would soon be changed.  It actually turns out that this friend noticed that something was off in Joey’s hip. Joey was eventually referred to Dr. Marc Philippon, a pioneering hip specialist, who corrected Joey’s hip and later introduced him to his partner, Dr. Peter Millett—an introduction that would finally not only answer many of Joey’s prayers but completely change the course he had been traveling on for so long.

“Dr. Millett and I were introduced in March of 2010, literally four years to the day that I played my last round of golf on the PGA Tour.  I think the coincidence of the date was definitely divine intervention and that our meeting was the start of something special,” said Joey.

Dr. Millett wanted to obtain a new MRI on his right side immediately. Ironically, throughout this journey, Joey had had more than 7 MRIs on this very shoulder.  Not one of the top doctors he saw could find anything remotely wrong by looking at these scans.  Joey knew this was a standard request for an orthopedic doctor to make, but based on previous failure to diagnose anything—he did not have high hopes.  He says he was stunned when the morning after having the MRI, Dr. Millett confidently confirmed a diagnosis:  Joey did in fact have symptoms associated with a frozen shoulder, but more, he had a thickened capsule in his shoulder, also known as GIRD for glenohumeral internal rotation deficit, that was leading to a nerve entrapment of the axillary nerve (quadrilateral space syndrome) and a frozen shoulder.  He was absolutely sure he could fix it.

“From that moment on, I knew I was in the absolute best hands and that Dr. Millett was literally the answer to my prayers.  Not only is he an extremely talented physician and surgeon, he is an even better person.  I truly felt as though he understood where I was at in my journey to fix my shoulder and return to the physical levels I needed to be at in order to compete in a professional sport.  When Dr. Millett performed the arthroscopic surgery to treat the capsulitis, he ended up removing a ton of scar tissue that was entrapping my axillary nerve, he repaired my bicep tendon and re-attached it into my upper arm bone, he removed an inflamed bursa sac and finally performed a capsular release. All of these procedures were needed and necessary in order to fix my condition,” says Joey.

Staying in Vail for one week, Joey underwent intense rehab.  Dr. Millett sent him home with a specific and structured rehab regime that Joey has followed to a T in rehab in Phoenix.  Just a few short weeks post-op, Joey testified that he no longer had shooting pains down his right arm, chronic neck and shoulder pain, and he no longer experiences frozen shoulder, frozen neck and or headaches in his jaw or eye.

“It’s an incredible end to a very long, frustrating and often times maddening journey.  Dr. Millett did what no other doctor was able to accomplish and I am forever indebted to him and his team.  For the first time in my 4-1/2 year journey, I see a light at the end of the tunnel and have confidence that I am on the road to recovery. I am finally able to hit golf balls again and the thought of being able to chase my dream again has me elated.  Dr. Millett and his spot-on diagnosis and amazing surgical skills have changed my life,” says Joey.

In closing, Joey Snyder attests that the personal relationship he formed with Dr. Millett and his crew is something that is untouchable in the medical industry. “I truly feel like part of their family and they are all just really cool. I have confidence this injury is behind me and that confidence comes from a doctor who knows what he is doing and is ultra confident himself. For a guy with a wife and four kids, he is amazingly calm and friendly all the time. All I can say is he is a stud!”

While clinical studies support the effectiveness of these procedures, individual results may vary. There are no guarantees of outcome. All surgeries involve the risk of major complications. Before you decide on surgery, discuss treatment options with your doctor. Understanding the risks of each treatment can help you make the best decision for your individual situation.  Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits. Only your doctor can determine the appropriate treatment for your situation. The clinical information and opinions, including any inaccuracies expressed in this material by patients or doctor are not necessarily those of Peter Millett, MD and should not be considered as substitute for medical advice provided by your doctor.