Chris Taylor, Colorado

2013 – Left Shoulder CAM Procedure
2020 – Left Shoulder Total Shoulder Arthroplasty

Surgeries by: Dr. Peter J. Millett, Shoulder Surgery and Sports Medicine Specialist

Chris Taylor met Dr. Peter J. Millett and his team nine years ago when he was having extreme shoulder pain. He said he most likely injured his shoulder at the age of 18 or 19 when he played college football. Like many college-age athletes, Chris said he was “bulletproof” and didn’t really do anything for his injury. He didn’t take care of it properly and developed a few bad habits to compensate for the injured shoulder.

Years later, Chris was in overwhelming pain. Imaging studies with xrays and an MRI confirmed that his shoulder joint was worn out, and the joint had degenerated to bone-on-bone. Dr. Millett diagnosed Chris with severe, end-stage osteoarthritis of the shoulder, which can be one of the most debilitating and painful forms of arthritis. Shoulder osteoarthritis is characterized by the deterioration of the articular cartilage (a slippery substance on the ends of the bones that helps the joint glide without pain) along with changes in the bone and soft tissues of his shoulder.

Chris did not want to undergo a shoulder replacement at such young age, so after discussion with Dr. Millett he elected to undergo a CAM procedure (Comprehensive Arthroscopic Management)  – a joint preserving procedure that Dr. Millett helped pioneer for young athletes with advanced arthritis, as a means of delaying full shoulder replacement surgery. The CAM procedure helps patients who wish to avoid total joint replacement and provides an alternative which also allows them to stay active.

During the CAM procedure, Dr. Millett used a variety of minimally invasive arthroscopic surgical techniques and regenerative technologies. He removed loose cartilage and damaged labral tissue smoothing out the joint. He re-shaped the ball of the ball and socket joint, making it round again. After the CAM procedure, when the ball is round again and the scar tissue has been eliminated, mobility is restored. The most important aspect of a CAM procedure is to remove the large bone spur (typically present in osteoarthritis of the shoulder). This decompresses the axillary nerve and alleviates pain.

Chris said that Dr. Millett told him the CAM procedure would help delay a total shoulder replacement by approximately 5 years. However, Chris was able to delay his replacement by 7 years, even with his high level of activity. He said he was very happy with the CAM procedure and that he was able to delay the full shoulder replacement for even longer than he anticipated.

Over time, the osteoarthritis unfortunately progressed in Chris’s shoulder. In 2020, when he returned to Dr. Millett, together they decided it was time for Chris to undergo a total shoulder arthroplasty. Dr. Millett replaced the worn and damaged bone and cartilage with plastic and metal implants. A metal ball was used to replace the humeral head, (top of the arm bone) while a polyethylene cup became the replacement of the glenoid socket. Because of Chris’ young age, Dr. Millett used a bone preserving type of shoulder replacement that can be more easily revised in the future shoulder Chris wear this out too. Dr. Millett also cleaned up bone fragments and other debris in his shoulder as part of the shoulder replacement to restore full pain-free motion.

Chris explained how the total shoulder replacement was an easy recovery. He explained, “With the CAM procedure, the recovery took 10-12 months.” He said having the CAM procedure was completely “worth it” and that the surgery combined with the work he put in with physical therapy put off his total shoulder replacement for another 7 years.

The recovery from the total shoulder arthroplasty was, for Chris, surprisingly easy and he didn’t experience a lot of pain. He still had to do the physical therapy in order to regain his strength and range of motion. Two years later he tells us he’s doing more with his shoulder than he ever imagined, and maybe more than Dr. Millett would advise! He’s able to consistently do 12-15 pullups, 25-40 pushups and lift 300 pounds – daily. He is working on pressing weight overhead and has no pain whatsoever! Chris has been cleared to box but has voluntarily given up basketball, football, or other sports activities that might jar and injure his new shoulder. Chris is happy to have been cleared to do all of his other sporting activities.

Chris tells us that his experience with Dr. Peter Millett and the team at The Steadman Clinic was flawless. Dr. Millett had a clear and concise rehabilitation plan, geared specifically to Chris and what he wanted to accomplish post-surgery. He had a great experience and was helped by great people who are skilled at their jobs. He’s grateful to Dr. Millett and his team at The Steadman Clinic for helping him live his best, active and pain-free life.

– Special thanks to Chris Taylor for sharing his story!

Peter Millett MD, Orthopedic Knee Elbow Shoulder Specialist
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