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Dave O’Neill Is Now Able to Sleep & Enjoy an Active Lifestyle Without Shoulder Pain

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“The best part was that one week after surgery, it felt better than it had prior to surgery. I am…
May 15, 2024

“The best part was that one week after surgery, it felt better than it had prior to surgery. I am now sleeping a full night, at least seven hours. When I bike ride, I don’t have any shoulder pain anymore. I have not played volleyball yet, but I anticipate it will be fine. I have played pickleball and have felt fine.”


Dave OneillA vibrant and active 66-year-old, Dave O’Neill recently retired from a company that manufactures shipping cartons, after 44 years of working in the office there. He is married and has a daughter who lives close by. Relishing in retirement, O’Neill and his wife like to enjoy little side trips and biking, and he enjoys playing volleyball, pickleball and other sports.

Due to high use and a gradual buildup of arthritis, O’Neill dealt with increasing discomfort in his left shoulder over the course of the last 10 years. It was making it very difficult for him to sleep at night. He tried non-invasive treatments like physical therapy and steroid injections, but those did not help for very long. Eventually, he was referred to Matthew J. DiPaola, MD, who performed a total shoulder replacement for O’Neill in September 2023.

Recently reflecting on his journey from before and after the surgery, O’Neill shares his experience in hopes that it might offer insight to other people who are dealing with similar shoulder issues:

What was your shoulder injury and when did it occur?

It wasn’t really an injury; it was a gradual buildup of arthritis. I would say it was over the course of 10 years and gradually got worse and began to bother me. I pitched hardball all through high school and college. I’m right-handed, but it was my left shoulder that needed replacing. That being said, I also sleep on my left side with my arm under my pillow, so I’m sure that had something to do with it.

What made you seek UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine for your treatment?

Well, the pain did — especially when sleeping. I’m active. I ride my bicycle, I play volleyball and all sorts of things. It hurt when I played, but I could play through it. But when it was hurting while sleeping, there was no sleeping through it. I remember one night, in particular, when I woke up in the middle of the night in tears and said, “I just wish they would amputate this because the pain is just that bad.” I couldn’t move it.

Were you referred to us by a different physician?

I have had plenty of experience with Dr. Bisson in the past, and Kelly Jordan, PA-C, had been giving me injections over the last few years. It worked for a while, but it seemed like each time I got one, the duration it helped would be shorter and shorter. After one injection, it seemed to not work after only two or three weeks, and Kelly said it was time to meet with another doctor.

What was the recommended treatment?

I tried physical therapy, but that didn’t help. We started doing steroid injections. I then had total shoulder replacement in September 2023 with Dr. DiPaola’s office. I went into my first appointment with Dr. DiPaola, and the first thing he asked me was “How are you sleeping?” I knew right then I had the right guy. I told him: “I’m not really sleeping. I am sleeping 10 minutes at a time, maybe two hours at a time.” He turned to his student and said, “That is the first question you ask a patient because if they are not sleeping, their quality of life is going to suffer.” That’s when I knew I had the right guy.

What was the best part of your experience with Dr. DiPaola?

That very first appointment. As I was leaving, I scheduled surgery. I didn’t need to think about it. I knew it wasn’t going to get better on its own. The best part was that one week after surgery, it felt better than it had prior to surgery. I had the shoulder replacement at Buffalo General, and I went home that same day. Since then, I have been very diligent with physical therapy.

Are there any activities you are back to doing?

Yes, sleeping. I am now sleeping a full night, at least seven hours. When I bike ride, I don’t have any shoulder pain anymore. I have not played volleyball yet, but I anticipate it will be fine. I have played pickleball and have felt fine.

How has surgery changed your life?

Mainly by improving my sleep. I am better rested for each day. Also, the lack of pain in my shoulder. It is great not having to go back and get shots every two months.

Are you doing anything to avoid reinjury?

I still have therapy bands tied to the banister at home, and every time I walk by, I make sure to continue to do the exercises. I have also avoided weightlifting. The bands are the main thing I have been doing. I would have continued therapy, but I ended up having my knee replaced by Dr. Phillips during treatment.

What advice do you have for other individuals with a shoulder injury?

Get it done. Don’t wait. It isn’t going to get better on its own. Be diligent with rehab, and you need to do the exercises at home too. Just going to therapy alone isn’t enough.