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Shoulder replacement surgery helps firefighter alleviate pain

David Blake, a weightlifter and assistant chief with the Martin Fire Department, developed a lingering pain in his shoulders that worsened until he couldn’t sleep at night.

He’s always been active. He joined the Martin Fire Department in 1987 and helped his colleagues earn some of the top finishes in statewide firefighter challenge competitions. He also performed in bench press competitions in the late 1990s.

“I kept hurting my shoulder and kept pushing it,” Blake said. “I never went to the doctor. Maybe I should have, but I didn’t.”

The lingering pain began in early 2000. “It never got any better.”

He experienced three years of intense pain, and when it became so bad that it kept him up at night, he visited Dr. Adam Smith with West Tennessee Bone & Joint Clinic. An X-ray during the first appointment showed that both shoulders were deteriorating – though his right shoulder was causing the most pain.

“He explained all of my options very well,” Blake said. “He’ll listen to you and answer every question you ask. And he gets down to a level that you can understand.”

They decided to treat the pain with cortisone shots in the beginning, but Blake said shoulder replacement surgery was the only cure.

On May 26 last year, Blake went to Jackson-Madison County General Hospital for outpatient surgery to replace his right shoulder. He went home the same day.

“I didn’t have to stay in the hospital, and that was great for me.”

Blake completed a regimen of physical therapy over six weeks to rehabilitate the joint, and it strengthened as it healed. Now, he is able to do some of the things he used to enjoy – bow hunting, for example. “I couldn’t shoot before surgery.”

He said his experience with West Tennessee Bone & Joint Clinic has been good, and he has already referred a couple of friends to Dr. Smith. He also said he’s grateful for Dr. Smith’s work. The procedure changed his life, he said.

“I have no pain, and it’s stronger than my left shoulder. It’s been great. I feel like I’m a happier person without all that pain.”