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Old 29 October 2015, 12:54
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Torn Rotator Cuff - Surgery: Yes or No?

I have put this in the fitness forum. Could not decide whether it should go here or in the medicine forum.

So I have a torn rotator cuff. My decision is now surgery or not. I know there are many variables I need to personally consider to make that decision, but I wanted to ask if anyone here has had this same type of injury and elected for surgery - or not. And what advice you may have based on your experiences.

Also, if any med professionals have anything they would like to share, I would very much appreciate it.

For xthread points - IronCross - this is what I am now dealing with for not addressing my shoulder issues properly 20+ years ago.
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Old 29 October 2015, 13:23
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I would just go ahead and get it fixed. I hate surgery and doctors the whole gig. But if you don't take care of it now and do the rehab you will be worse off for it. Especially with a joint like the shoulder, all those tendons and stuff are carrying more of the load and could get hurt as well.

I'm not a medic or anything like that. Just a guy who has broken his fair share of bones, torn ligaments, torn tendons, sports hernias. Just get it fixed. If you don't want the pain pills they will inevitably offer you , go to Walgreens or CVS and pick up a bottle of percogesic. It's an OTC pain remedy. Works wonders.
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Old 29 October 2015, 13:47
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I've had it done on my left shoulder. Healing was a bitch. 8 full weeks in a sling. Then physical therapy twice a week after for 3 months.

Totally worth it.

The right shoulder needs work too (torn tendons). The difference in strength between the two shoulders is amazing.
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Old 29 October 2015, 15:07
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Why wouldn't you get it fixed? Just wondering why you would debate it at all.
I've dislocated both shoulders. The pain and "loose" feeling i had after that was annoying as hell. Bottoming out on pullups was a gamble. I threw a baseball like a girl after that. After a couple years of toughing it out, I had the surgery (15 years ago) and I dont regret it one bit. Still kinda throw like a girl though. Really.
The physical therapy with mine was painful as hell. I remember the PT guy stretching my shoulder out so bad i wanted to cry. In the end I have 90% of the flexibility I used to. Havnt had one dislocation since.
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Old 29 October 2015, 15:13
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I've dislocated my shoulder and torn the rotator cuff -- same shoulder.

In my case, the recommendation was PT, not surgery. I recovered 97% of the ROM of the arm, probably more since then.

Never had any serious problems, although it does still occasionally get sore.

If I had to do it again, I don't think I would have felt compelled to get surgery....
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Old 29 October 2015, 15:14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crapstash View Post
Why wouldn't you get it fixed? Just wondering why you would debate it at all.
I went through physical therapy for mine. Half of the people there from 12 years old to 73 were about 50/50 with any improvement after surgery. Several of them were only at 10 to 15% any better off than they were prior to surgery.

Personally, I think it's hit or miss on the benefits unless it's to the point where you can't physically raise your arm above your waist or lift anything.

My dad has complete tears in both cuffs and didn't know it until he had a complete physical and asked why his shoulders had been hurting as of late...he is 69 and in the construction industry. Never knew he had tears. From the scarring, it looks like they have been torn for 20 or so years. He has been functioning like that without the loss of any mobility.

There are times surgery may not be the best answer.
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Old 29 October 2015, 15:23
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I tore my rotator cuff and refused corrective surgery. Over the years I've managed to recover about 95% ROM and strength, but I also manage to re-injure the same shoulder every year or two, usually with a SLAP tear that puts me back out of commission for a while. If I had it to do over again, I'd have had the surgery.
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Old 29 October 2015, 21:32
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I delayed getting mine repaired for 8 years. Surgery went well, phys therapy and I wish I had done it earlier.
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Old 29 October 2015, 23:08
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I got cut on my left shoulder 20 months ago. While I am still not where I was pre-injury, ROM and strength are much better than pre-surgery.
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Old 30 October 2015, 00:18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crapstash View Post
Why wouldn't you get it fixed? Just wondering why you would debate it at all.
My desire is to avoid surgery unless absolutely necessary. I teach martial arts and conditioning part time so it's a big decision for me if the surgery doesn't go as expected.
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Old 30 October 2015, 00:20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SOTB View Post
I've dislocated my shoulder and torn the rotator cuff -- same shoulder.

In my case, the recommendation was PT, not surgery. I recovered 97% of the ROM of the arm, probably more since then.

Never had any serious problems, although it does still occasionally get sore.

If I had to do it again, I don't think I would have felt compelled to get surgery....
This is the route I am hoping to take.
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Old 30 October 2015, 01:12
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I have a tear in my left shoulder. It was workmans comp, and after the bullshit run-around, I finally was able to go to my ortho doctor group. The shoulder doc told me that the tear was minimal, but it hurt if I slept on it, and my ROM was about 75%. He put me on a PT routine, and I'm back to about 95% ROM. Fortunately, my doc is of the mind set that surgery is a last resort. Every once in a while I tweak it and it bothers me for a day, but I've heard horror stories about the surgery and recovery.
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Old 30 October 2015, 06:32
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Have you had an MRI? What tendon(s) are involved? What is the size of the tear? Any biceps tendon or glenoid labrum involvement? All of this will impact whether conservative treatment (ie PT, no surgery) will work. I've rehabed firefighters, cops and martial arts guys w/ small tears (less than 1 cm, partial thickness tears) and had them return to full duty. I would definitely get more than one opinion, and try to find an ortho who only does shoulders, not a one-stop-shop "I can fix everything" cutter. Hope that helps.
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Old 30 October 2015, 06:53
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I have broken, dislocated and torn my rotator cuff all in my left shoulder, and not at the same time. The rotator cuff was a couple years back and I have had pain and lack of mobility ever since. My Dr. Recommended that I have a replacement because in his words, " you have the shoulder of an 80yo man".

After much PT, both with a Physical Theripist and on my own, I am back in he gym lifting. I still cannot bench heavy (limit so far is 250) because of pain, I am pushing on. The constant pain has almost subsided and I have almost 95% mobility. Thanks to advice from members here I did not do surgery.
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Old 30 October 2015, 07:22
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I would definitely get more than one opinion, and try to find an ortho who only does shoulders, not a one-stop-shop "I can fix everything" cutter. Hope that helps.
This is great advice. The Ortho group I went to had a specialist for each joint. All had heavy involvement in our local sports teams. I found my Dr. using a local metropolitan magazine's Top Dr. listing. While some of that is marketing fluff, I've had great results using the list as a starting point for selecting Drs.

The importance of MRI results should not be downplayed here. Mine showed two full torn tendons, torn rotator, and a partial tear in another tendon. Bone spurs too. My right shoulder has two partial tendon tears, so I've put that off but it is getting worse with time. I'm right handed so I don't know what I'd do with getting some strange for 8 weeks + .....
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Old 30 October 2015, 09:36
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I was fortunate. My doc, formerly an ortho for an NFL team, is simply awesome. She had this to say, and I am paraphrasing: "if it's torn, it's torn. PT and the gym will buy you time, but nothing makes torn tissue magically reattach. If you don't have surgery now, and you lead an active life, you will have to have it at some point. If you don't have an active life, maybe PT and the gym is enough."

I had the surgery and never looked back. It was right for me.
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Old 30 October 2015, 09:37
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That's the kind of functional goal PT's love to write: "Patient will be able to wank it bilaterally". Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 30 October 2015, 10:00
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I didn't get surgery until the clicking, catching, and pain became too frequent. Recovery took a while and I'd say ROM is about 95% or better. PT after surgery is key to get flexibility back in my opinion.

The other shoulder that fully dislocated twice never had surgery and PT fixed it or made it viable to me.
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Old 30 October 2015, 10:19
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Just had the surgery 3 months ago. Full tear of the Supraspinatus, Re-attached biceps tendon and some widening and clean up and widening of the gap (can't remember the formal name).

6 weeks of the sling, minimal PT the first six weeks (once a week with ROM stuff) weeks 7 - 12 2 times a week ROM. Just got the clearance to start strengthening.

I gotta tell you it won't be fun....particularly as active as you seem to be now. The first 2 weeks is basically pain pills and living in a barca-lounger because you can't lie flat out.

I did start doing some serious walking as soon as I could but watch out if you have knee issues....the in-ability to swing your arm normally throws off your balance and gait...which aggravated the knee.

and then there was the yellow jacket incidence.....
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Old 30 October 2015, 10:26
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Bingo - sub acromial decompression? Good luck with it. You're over the hump at this point.
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