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Retired Physician Executive Regains Mobility & Arm Use After Long-Awaited Shoulder Replacement Surgery

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May 8, 2024

“I wanted to know who was the best, and I found him… Not only is Dr. DiPaola competent and an expert, but he is also confident. You know you are in good hands. He’s really a great doctor, and I actually have fun when I go. He’s just a very kind, friendly and fun person. It’s hard to find that mix.”


Bob HeadshotAs a 61-year-old, retired physician executive, Bob Mennella is very active, and loves weight lifting, hiking and walking. He served many years as a physician executive in the pharmaceutical and diagnostics industries. He has been happily married for 40 years, and is a proud father to one 30-year-old son and a daughter-in-law. Throughout his adult life, Mennella has dealt with widespread chronic osteoarthritis, which he attributes to being part hereditary and part due to escalation through powerlifting his entire life. He developed a bone spur in his shoulder and was told before 2010 that he needed shoulder replacement surgery. Receiving cortisone injections since the 90’s, he convinced himself to wait until he was 60 to have the surgery. He did just that, and Matthew J. DiPaola, MD, performed his replacement surgery on April 6, 2023. Mennella has since shared his experience, from before and after his surgery, in hopes that his story may help other patients make a more informed decision for their own treatment:

What brought you to UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine?

I had friends from medical school who would inject me [cortisone shots], but I was constantly told I was going to need a replacement. I researched and found Dr. DiPaola. I wanted to know who was the best, and I found him. My wife actually looked up the American Shoulder and Elbow Society and said: “There’s only two guys in the area, and one of them is yours!”

What was the recommended treatment?

What happened was that Dr. DiPaola put the X-ray up and said, “You’re long overdue.” The bone spur was taking over the whole joint. I could not lift my arm up to 90 degrees.

How has surgery changed your life?

I can use it! I can use my arm. We weren’t sure how much mobility I would get back because I waited so long, and I had less than 90 degrees mobility when I met him. Now I have between 140 and 145 degrees on a good day. I can get things out of the cabinet. Before, I was basically letting the arm hang to my side and using my left side for everything.

Are there any other activities you can do again since having surgery?

The biggest change for me is I can sleep and not have severe pain.

How long was it before you noticed a difference after surgery?

After about a week or two, they said it would hurt, but I was back to where I was. After 24 hours, I took no pain meds, and he let me go home the same day. It was probably within two to three weeks that everyone kept asking me if I was in pain, and I would say, “No, I’m not.” After about a month or two, I did not have any pain whatsoever at rest. There was a little bit during physical therapy, but none at rest.

Do you still have any current limitations?

How much I can lift. I do not go beyond 25 pounds, and I take it very easy when working out. I am lifting weights with the right arm, but very lightly. I am avoiding things that feel like I am pushing it. I still do the stretches I learned in physical therapy every day.

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

He is such a nice guy. He cares so much, and he is fun. All of his staff and the front desk team are fun. Not only is Dr. DiPaola competent and an expert, but he is also confident. You know you are in good hands. He’s really a great doctor, and I actually have fun when I go. He’s just a very kind, friendly and fun person. It’s hard to find that mix.

What advice would you give to those dealing with a shoulder injury?

See Dr. DiPaola now. Don’t play games. Get it done early, and get it done right. Bob Mennella and his wife