How to Choose the Best Orthopedic Shoulder Surgeon

If you’ve suffered a shoulder injury or are experiencing pain, you want to pick the best shoulder surgeon in your area. The question is, how do you figure out which orthopedic surgeon is the best for you?

The quickest answer to that question: research. Unfortunately, it’s a bit more involved than a simple Google search for “best shoulder surgeon near me.”

While that search may give you a whole list of results, there are better ways to vet the orthopedic surgeons in your area.

Tips for Researching Orthopedic Surgeons

No matter whether you’re searching for a shoulder specialist in Utah, Florida or Timbuktu, the same basic principles apply across the board.

Ask Your Friends, Family, Neighbors and Co-workers

We’re in the golden years of the digital age, where smartphones, tablets and other internet-fueled technologies are always within reach. As such, we tend to first turn to the internet to answer all of our pressing questions.

When it comes to finding the best shoulder surgeon for you, the first step is to ask the people in your life for their recommendations. The internet is a useful tool; however, first-hand knowledge, experience and opinions from people you trust can help steer your research in the right direction.

Read the Orthopedic Surgeons’ Online Reviews

Once you’ve compiled a list of recommendations from friends, family and trusted acquaintances, it’s time to hop online and see what the rest of their patients have to say. And while going straight to the source on the orthopedic surgeon’s website can be helpful, it’s important to know that some shoulder surgeons and other orthopedic specialists may curate the reviews on their websites.

That is why you should also consider each surgeon’s Google reviews, healthgrades reviews and reviews provided by your local health network, hospital or health insurer. The goal is to get a comprehensive look at all of your options while focusing on the aspects of care that are most important to you.

Questions to Ask Your Orthopedic Shoulder Surgeon

Once you’ve narrowed the field of surgeons and made your choice, there are a few important questions you should ask your orthopedic surgeon to determine if he or she is right for you.

Can this be done with minimally-invasive surgical techniques?

As technology advances, so do surgical techniques. Many orthopedic and shoulder surgeries can now be done through arthroscopy in lieu of more invasive procedures. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), arthroscopy is “a minimally invasive alternative to standard open surgical techniques and now the most commonly performed orthopedic surgical procedure… [arthroscopies] result in less postoperative swelling than open techniques and reduce pain risk of complications, and recovery times.”

While orthopedic surgery has been trending toward more minimally-invasive surgical techniques, not all orthopedic surgeons are experienced with the most up-to-date arthroscopic techniques.

Do you specialize in the shoulder surgery I need? How often do you perform this surgery?

These two questions go hand-in-hand. Many orthopedic surgeons specialize in one or more parts of the body (typically knees, shoulders, hips, spine and back, foot and ankle, and hand and wrist). Other orthopedic surgeons are more general in their practice.

It’s important to find a shoulder specialist who performs your surgery often. On average, surgeons who specialize in specific surgical procedures have better outcomes and fewer complications.

What complications have you encountered in other surgeries like mine?

Your shoulder surgeon should be willing and able to answer this question honestly and fully. Complications happen and you want a surgeon who is open and communicative about any and all risks.

Finally, get a second opinion. When it comes to finding the best shoulder surgeon for you and your injury, it’s okay to shop around until you’re completely comfortable and confident in your decision.

If you have any questions for our shoulder surgeons or questions about your injury, please do not hesitate to contact us.

12 Comments


Hi my name is Amy I have a few questions that have yet to be answered by my dr and my Orthopaedic.. Can you please help me

Reply

    Hi Amy,
    We are happy to try to answer any questions you have. It is difficult for us to give accurate medical advice without evaluating a patient first, but we will help in any way we can.

    Reply

I have distal lateral clavicle fracture from an unfortunate bicycle accident on Sunday 6-September-2020. Using the 4.5 cm from acromio-clavicular joint ligament insert guideline, as my distal clavicle fragment is about 1.6 cm (the superior/top-side) and 2.0 cm (the inferior/bottom side) in length, is it correct to determine that my fracture is lateral to the coraco-clavicular ligaments and that my medial clavicle fragment is stable? How significant is the displacement of my medial clavicle fragment? I would highly appreciate your suggestion for treatment. Thank you, Andi.

Reply

    Andi,
    The stability of your fracture depends more on the displacement of the fracture, not necessarily the location. The displacement of the fracture in relation to the other fragments would help determine how significant it is. Viewing this information on x-ray will help determine if surgery is needed or not. I would recommend seeing an upper extremity orthopedic specialist to help you choose the best course of treatment. Hope this helps.

    Reply

I am 36 years old. My muscles in the back of the left shoulder are going down. I saw this condition 22 days ago and shoulder pain around the last 2  & half months. I have consulted an orthopedic specialist & having medicine regularly. But no change.

In the meantime I did test MRI and x-ray. Now I am taking physiotherapy. Please suggest me, what I can do now? 

Reply

    Sohel,
    If the medicine recommended by your orthopedic surgeon is not helping I would recommend returning to them for further treatment. Ask them to review your MRI and x-ray results with you. It is difficult to recommend next steps without being able to review your medical records and do a proper evaluation. Your orthopedic specialist should be ale to provide next steps for you. Wishing you all the best!

    Reply

There are 3 Shoulder replacement specialists in our area.
2 of them have a fellowship in shoulders.
All 3 have a great reputation.
How might I choose “the best?”
It is hard to find many others who had the surgery to see how things went.

Reply

    Henry,
    Great question!
    There are a few things we recommend when searching for your doctor. First, if all doctors have a great reputation I usually look to their training and certification. Most of this should be available on their website. Are all 3 doctors board certified? Second, if you are unable to find a personal recommendation for any of the doctors, try reading online reviews! Although they are not a tell all, reviews usually help patients get a general understanding of other people’s experiences with the doctor. Lastly, go for a consultation. No matter what other people say and how much training is involved, it is important that you feel comfortable with your doctor. There is no harm in getting a consultation from multiple doctors to see where you feel most comfortable. Wishing you all the best!

    Reply

I need a shoulder replacement, how long would a surgery take and how long is the recovery I live in Hollywood Florida and who is the best surgeon for shoulder replacement

Reply

    Larry,
    Surgery and recovery typically depends on the type of shoulder replacement, ie: total, partial, etc.
    In general, shoulder replacement is a major operation, usually taking two to three hours, including time for anesthesia. Expect to spend a little time in the hospital after surgery. As for recovery, most people are able to resume daily activity/work with modified duty around 2-4 weeks, though keep in mind that many patients are unable to drive until around 6 weeks. Expect to not be able to return to more vigorous activities until around 6 months. Keep in mind that each person recovers at a different pace and recovery heavily relies on Physical Therapy. You’ll want to discuss all this information and time frames with an orthopedic surgeon in your area. Hope this helps!

    Reply

How can I find an experienced shoulder surgeon who is the best at bone graphs in Southern Ca? Thanks!

Reply

    Amy, Great question.
    There are a couple ways we typically recommend searching for doctors.
    1. Call your insurance provider and get a list of in-network providers in your area.
    2. Then, Try looking at the doctor’s personal website. This can give you additional information on their training, experience, specialties, etc.
    3. After you have narrowed it down, search these providers on Google, healthgrades, etc. Though reviews aren’t everything, they can give you an idea of other people’s experiences.

    Another way we suggest is to get a couple recommendations from your Primary Care Physician, then follow steps 2 and 3 again.
    We hope you find this helpful.

    Reply

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