Patient Stories

Thomas A. Martinelli, MD

What started as a pleasant, first-time horseback ride during a vacation in Iceland turned into a terrifying gallop through sleet and gale-force winds. When the horse finally threw her, Karen landed on the hardest surface imaginable: frozen volcanic rock.

The fall partially dislocated her right shoulder, but by the time she returned home to Alexandria, she thought it had healed. For the next eight years, Karen lived with recurring dislocations, progressive weakness and limited range of motion. Things got so bad she finally consulted Thomas Martinelli, MD, a shoulder specialist at OrthoVirginia. Knowing she wasn’t eager for surgery, Dr. Martinelli recommended physical therapy. “At first, I thought it was helping. But when a wave knocked me down during a family beach vacation and my shoulder popped out, I said, ‘That’s it! I’m having surgery,’” Karen recalls.

Dr. Martinelli performed minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery to repair Karen’s shoulder. This advanced technique holds many patient benefits, including shorter operative time, less pain, and faster recovery with better range of motion following rehabilitation.

Karen spent four weeks with her arm immobilized in a sling, and then began several months of physical therapy to restore strength and flexibility. Now fully recovered, she is busy keeping up with her young daughter, Rayyan, and traveling for her job in international development. Her arm is much stronger and more limber than it was before her surgery, and she’s confident it will improve to the point where she will forget about it completely.

“My OrthoVirginia experience was overwhelmingly positive and Dr. Martinelli did an amazing job,” she says. “I had minimal post-operative pain, my recovery was excellent, and the incisions are so tiny and have healed so well you can barely see them anymore. In the end, my fears were groundless; surgery was definitely worth it. I have my quality of life back.”