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My surgeon says he can't operate on my shoulder – can I get a second opinion?

Q) Until recently my two main hobbies have been walking and making patchwork quilts. Now I've been told I have considerable osteoarthritis in one knee and will soon need a replacement. The surgeon assures me that I'll be able to go walking again, although I'll probably be limited to short ones. The same surgeon has confirmed the presence of osteoarthritis in my left shoulder, which wakes me up four or five times each night when most of the fingers in my left hand go numb. The surgeon says he can do nothing for my shoulder. Knowing the condition will probably worsen with age, must I simply accept this, or should I press my GP to refer to a neurological specialist? The thought of largely losing both my hobbies fills me with dread.
Betsy Breuer, Lancaster, Lancashire (Summer 2005)

A) Your case nicely illustrates that everyone is different. This is the reason that it's impossible to draw up ‘standard’ advice. Not only will your individual circumstances be taken into consideration but also other factors such as your age and any other illness you have. I think you should aim to get back to walking after your knee operation providing everything else is fine. As to your shoulder, you need to consult again about this, as it's unlikely that osteoarthritis of the shoulder is the cause of your hand symptoms. You may have a trapped nerve in the arm or the neck.


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