Linda Kolasinski
Linda Kolasinski was unsure of what to do about her chronic shoulder pain until she came across a Cottage Health pain seminar. “I knew what to do next,” she says. “I made an appointment with Dr. Pifer, and that was the beginning of my getting better.” (Cottage Health photo)

After her pain began to interfere with daily life, even making it difficult to drive, Linda Kolasinski knew she needed help.

Steroid injections had provided temporary relief over the years, but it was fleeting, and those treatments had stopped offering any significant relief, even short-term.

She didn’t know where to go for help or who to see.

Fortunately, Kolasinski heard about a Meet the Doctor seminar in Solvang with Dr. Matthew Pifer, an orthopedic shoulder surgeon affiliated with Cottage Health. At the seminar, she learned more about chronic shoulder pain and options for treatment.

“I knew what to do next,” she said. “I made an appointment with Dr. Pifer, and that was the beginning of my getting better.”

Shoulder pain can come in all forms, and symptoms can range from pain at rest, pain or weakness when reaching for something, or pain with more activity and sport. Available treatments have become increasingly diverse, less invasive and more successful than ever before, with faster recoveries.

“Linda suffered from severe arthritis with a rotator cuff tear,” Pifer explained. “This causes pain around the shoulder joint and diminishes the range of motion.”

The cartilage layer in Kolasinski’s shoulder had deteriorated, and she required a total shoulder replacement. A total shoulder replacement is a solution for those having bone-on-bone damage, possibly from osteoarthritis or a chronically torn rotator cuff.


After undergoing a reverse shoulder replacement procedure, Linda Kolasinski is back enjoying her life — pain-free. (Cottage Health image)

About 50,000 shoulder replacements are performed annually in the United States, and they fall into two main categories:

» Total (complete) shoulder replacement is the most common type, where both damaged ball and socket are replaced.

» Reverse shoulder replacement — the procedure Kolasinski required — is performed in patients with severe rotator cuff tears who develop arthritis. In this procedure, the ball and socket are “reversed” to allow for better motion.

“Reverse shoulder replacements are particularly effective for patients suffering from shoulder arthritis along with damaged rotator cuffs,” Pifer said.

After her surgery, Kolasinski spent one night at Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital before going home, and her shoulder has been pain-free ever since.

For after-surgery care, Kolasinski was prescribed physical therapy, and she was given exercises to perform at home, which helped strengthen her shoulder and improve its range of motion. After two to three months of recovery and physical therapy, she was feeling great and getting back to the life she loves.

“Cottage was absolutely wonderful,” Kolasinski said. “The difference in care I received there is night and day from other places.”