A New Adventure Awaits- Rotator Cuff Surgery

I went to a followup with my Orthopedist yesterday. This was also the first time I saw him after my recent fall.

He concluded after a lot of manipulation and “push on my hand this way, does that hurt?” that I had further torn my rotator cuff. He had been on the fence about whether to fix it, but this pushed him over the fence. Time to repair it or it will just keep getting worse. So surgery will be on June 14th. Interestingly, as I was getting ready to post this I came across one by fellow bloggers London Shoulder Specialists: “When Is Surgery Absolutely Essential For Rotator Cuff Injury?”. I qualify based on their criteria under ” Lifestyle considerations”, as an active individual. They describe this as “getting back into the sport they love is essential”. In my case it’s not that so much. It’s more “because doing the activities he loves, he keeps falling on the damn thing and making it worse”, which I guess we can call the “clumsy oaf” criterion.

Fortunately this is an arthroscopic fix. My surgery will be similar to what is shown in the video in the link. I’ll first get the inspection, and debridement if needed. But I’ll get 4 screws into the acromion, with an x-shaped sutures connecting them.

Compared to hip and heart valve replacements, piece of cake! It’s outpatient surgery, then I’ll be in a sling 4-6 weeks. Doc says you feel good a lot sooner than that and will be chomping at the bit to take the sling off. But it keeps you from doing something dumb like instinctively grabbing something heavy at a bad angle on the surgery side.

After that it’s months of PT to get full ROM and strength back. No sweat, I’ve worked around worse limitations than this. Don’t worry if it sounds like I’m being naive about this, my Mom had this surgery, and I know what she went through, and I’ve talked to friends who have had it recently, so I know rehab is a lot of work. But I’m kind of experienced at rehab. I’m excited about getting back better functionality in this shoulder. It has actually bugged me for years. I think I might have torn the rotator cuff about 15 years ago: I was doing a chest press with heavy (for me) weight and actually heard a tearing sound from the right shoulder. Freaky! It has bugged me doing certain activities ever since. For example, I can only do push ups until the upper arms are horizontal. If I do chest to the floor the shoulder hurts. I think I have just made an existing tear worse with my two recent mishaps.

So no paddling for a few months, strength training left side only, and no biking outside at least for a few weeks. I’ll get in as much as I can between now and June 14, then it’s back to the trainer and cardio machines at the gym. Also brisk walking. Given my recent history of clumsiness I think I’ll avoid hiking until the shoulder is 100% rehabbed. This would be a good time to work hard on balance too.

In my last post I mentioned that my weight had crept up recently because I didn’t monitor it during my recovery from the broken collarbone. No problem, I thought, I’ll just bump up my exercise volume, which I enjoy anyway. But events seem to be conspiring against that.

But I’ve been through a similar situation of needing to lose some weight without doing a ton of exercise. In early 2017 My doc was unhappy with my triglycerides and also thought I needed to lose about 15 lbs. I couldn’t exercise my way out of it, because my aortic stenosis was advanced enough at that point that intense and high volume exercise were both not a good idea. That was when I got better about nutrition, especially being extra strict about avoiding junk and sticking to minimally processed healthier foods. The weight came off steadily over a few months. It is time to repeat that process. The fact that I’ve already lost a chunk of the weight, and I’ve got 3 more weeks to do so until the surgery, helps me not to be too worried about it.

This time an important lesson needs to stick: stay healthy and maintain your weight through good nutrition and a reasonable amount of physical activity. More activity is fine for fun or adventure, but it should never be used as a crutch for weight control.

6 thoughts on “A New Adventure Awaits- Rotator Cuff Surgery

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