5wks after massive rotator cuff repair and still having pain.

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My case was degenerative and required decompression of the ac joint and clavicle. I had 3 tears. Supraspinatus and bicep were complete and infraspinatus was partial. I was having progressive pain over the past year and came to the point I was unable to work. The first 3 wks after surgery was almost unbearable due to pain and little sleep sitting up in recliner. I have a sling with immobilizer. Physical therapy started 4 days after surgery with passive range of motion and has become more aggressive now. I will take sling and immobilizer off next wk (6wks) and start more active exercises. I had no pain with physical therapy until after at first that was better the next day. Now I have pain WITH physical therapy that is tolerable but after for the rest of the day and the next day i have went back to taking pain pills around the clock. Day 3 is good with no pain until the next session. I am just wondering what has been your experiences. Trying real hard not to keep my head up. Dreading the next 7wks of physical therapy. At what point did it get better for you?

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  • Posted

    PT will be painful, at least when i had it on my ACL/MCL/PCL knee repair it was painful The doctor should be able to give something to help, perhaps extended release oxycotin... since you arnt getting a large amount at a time it shouldnt be addictive and it does help. Also make sure you take your NSAID (Aleve is my preference) and ice it down. Also let your PT know how much pain you are in following... he/she may want to tone down the PT.

    From my experience, the pain from PT was worse for the first 2 weeks then was mostly just a constant ache. Wish i could give better review.

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your reply. I do have percocet as needed. History of heart attack at 42 so NSAID are not something I can take.  A constant ache is a good description for the day to day stuff.

       

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  • Posted

    Hello.  Sorry to hear about your situation.  I had an encounter in the dark with sneaky black ice on 12/26/16 resulting in dislocated shoulder and ripping off three r cuff tendons.  Two were surgically reattached 1/27/17.  I did not start PT for two weeks.  My first day of PT (third week out) was painful enough that I canceled the second day of PT and went back to the doctor.  I thought PT might have pulled out an anchor.  Thankfully, the x-rays showed everything was still in place.

    This is a difficult surgery and recovery.  You need to stay positive and keep pushing through your fears.  Communicate A LOT with your PT.  Ask questions.  Find things to laugh about during PT.  It took me a few PT appts to start yammering about silly things from my youth but once I started the PTs and I get done what needs to be done for progress to continue.  

    I am 54, and I would like to comb my hair again with my dominate hand.  I would like to stand up in the shower to wash my hair.  I would like to reach a hanger on the rack in the closet, dump bird seed into the hanging feeders, grasp my steering wheel and handle turns again.  If you/we give up, we will not regain these abilities.  DO NOT GIVE UP.  Squirt tears when you need to, then gather your wits and keep pushing through the recovery.  I am seven weeks out of surgery.  It's healing.  ROM of motion (with assistance from PT) is returning.  150 degrees with help.  I can reach near 90 without now (a couple of times).  

    Try to manage the pain with over the counter pain relievers versus the Rx.  Try to get outside into the fresh air.  I could not walk much after the surgery despite trying.  Last week I was able to walk 1.5-mile loop through the neighborhood without much concern.  Yesterday I walked the loop without the sling or my hand in my jacket pocket - no issues.  The recovery is slow.  Push through it.  You are not alone.  We have all been through the pain and doubt.  Set some short term and long term goals.  

    If you are unable to drive, see if there is someone (neighbor, family member) who will drive you for short errands.  Get out of the house and see others, engage with others.  YOU WILL BE OKAY!!

    KEEP YOUR CHIN UP!!  Post an update when you feel up to it.  Good luck and God Bless.

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    • Posted

      You win! Four I believe. I try not to ask nor look at the MRI, CT scan, x-rays. It turns my stomach Blah. I wept on and off for 13 or so days after surgery from pain. Used 60 Rx pills in 11 days. The four weeks and four days before surgery I wept out of the blue from the pain. Felt nauseated. It was pitiful. I would be at work struggling not to bawl. Those days are gone now. I'm still on FMLA looking at returning to work third or fourth WK of April. Keep plugging away. Try not to read to many articles. Focus on the success stories. 60s is the new 40s you will make it! Talk to your Dr and pt about water pt too. Change it up with bouyancy and gentle resistance if you can. Stay with it! You can do it!

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    • Posted

      50s is the new 30s we are all going to make it! We may require a squirt of WD-40 to our shoulder from time to time but we will make it (all 12-18 months)! Chin up and keep on truckin'!

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  • Posted

    I am 5 months on from similar surgery. What you are describing from my experience and other accounts is quite normal. I still suffer with pain when doing certain activities driving being one of them but I have full ROM and can do all those daily tasks that I I struggled with before.

    I saw my OS last week who told me it was a good repair but to expect pain for 12 -18 months following op.

    i can live with the pain in the knowledge that eventually I will have a fully working arm.

    Its a long journey........keep the faith you will get there.

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    • Posted

      I am 51 Christine.. I too am very worried for my success rate as not knowing how old my tear was and showed atrophied muscles with paper thin tendons 6cm away from the foot plate. I was in so much pain though there was no choice. I am my sole provider and live alone. Thankful for good friends.
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  • Posted

    Hi Cheryl.  I am 67 yrs old and 11 weeks post surgery for a full tear.  I am having the same experiences as you with physical therapy.  I take a pain pill before therapy and manage those exercises with some pain and I think a satisfactory ROM.  However, later in the day and the next day, I am in extreme pain and feel like crying.  A significant amount of pain is in my biceps. I'm limiting myself to two pain pills a day, but watch the clock until I can take the next one.  In addition to the pain, I am extremely depressed.  At times, I feel rather hopeless, so I understand when you say you are trying to keep your head up.   My doctor's appt. is next week, at which time I believe he will remove some of my restrictions and I will move on t the strength training phase.  I'm also hoping he will renew my pain meds.  I'm also hoping someone will post on when the pain began to lessen for them.  I wishyou well CherylJean and hope the pain begins to lessen for you soon.  

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    • Posted

      Hello, I am 11 weeks out of repairing a "massive" tear two tendons ripped off the humeral head, third partial tear.  I started PT the third week.  I went once and canceled the next PT heading back to the surgeon's office.  I thought "for Pete's sake did the screws tear out?"  <deep sigh> new x-rays revealed everything was okay.  Back to PT but like you, suffering from bicep muscle and bicep muscle pain i.e. red hot coal searing pain bicep tendon against humeral head.  The surgeon says the bicep muscle and the bicep tendon look good during the arthroscopic repair.  UGH - frustrating!  Week 9 of PT we started more aggressive PT.  Ah, nope.  The bicep tendon pain was SO intense I could not stand it.  In fact, it sucked in the clavicle-searing pain from shoulder to sternum.  After three (m,w,f) PT sessions (with Tuesday's PT) I could not move over the weekend.  A bit tearful due to the pain.  I thought omg now what?? I canceled PT the next Monday PT and saw the surgeon on tuesday.  A 15-minute appt ended up lasting 75 minutes because I asked for clarity on the injuries and recovery.  The surgeon is good (2016 grad).  He took the time to explain, and he brought in his mentor-who has been consulted since the injury.  We ended up injecting the sheath of the bicep tendon with a lidocaine/cortisone combo.  My surgeon used ultrasound to inject ONLY the sheath skillfully.  Within a few minutes, the lidocaine relaxed/numbed the tendon.  The cortisone has been helpful.  Tomorrow starts week 12 - still feeling okay after the injection.  Stiff from increasing the exercises.  I can reach 175 degrees while laying down on my back PT table no pillow under head, while I use a cane (passive stretch).  I continue struggling to lift/reach/grab over 90 degrees while standing upright.  I would like to touch the top of my head, the back of my neck, the opposite shoulder and the small of my back at some point.  It appears that regaining the standing upright from will take longer.  I too get bummed and have to figure out different tactics to help keep my spirits up (lately music).  I go back to week 4/24 with restrictions.  UGH... stupid accident caused my injury.  Blah.  Have you and cheryjean65 explored the lidocaine/cortisone combo into the bicep sheath?  Hang in there!!  Keep your chin up!!  You will get better!!  We all will!! Do not give up!!  Good luck and Happy Easter!!  Spring Renewal!!

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your post henpen.  I go to the surgeon on 4/21 and will ask about the lidocaine/cortisone injection.  The therapist can feel a knot in my bicep and tries to rub it out during therapy.  I feel that my spirits would improve if I can rid myself of the bicep paine.  I can slowly (with some pain) reach the top of my head.  One of the restrictions I have is no movements involving resistance.  Using that arm to wash my hair and wiping countertops is considering resistance.  Of course, I haven't had to worry about using that arm to wash my hair yet.  LOL.  

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    • Posted

      I can honestly say at 7wks and a couple days was magic for me. It was like okay i am going to make it. I am 10wks 3 days now. It was only getting better with minimal pain until I took a spill of a step stool and landed on my arm. Went to ER next morning after being up all night in pain and icing q 2 hr...CT and xrays were good thank my lucky stars...not sure what will happen now as I am bruised and rom is painful. STAY OFF THE STOOLS...DON'T CLIMB!

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    • Posted

      OMG!!  Are you going to see the surgeon?  Find out how far back you are now?  Let it rest.  Ice and anti inflam pills, pain med.  Baby steps going forward.  UGH-my stomach flopped reading your post = /  NO more CLIMBING!!!  No rollerskates, no ladders, no bikes nothing... Careful on stairs, etc.  Sheesh.  Glad you are okay.  Post an update after you see the specialist.  Good luck!!  
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    • Posted

      Hello, Have you looked at (shoulder) diagrams online?  I find that looking at the illustrations help me visualize what is happening.  Somehow understanding what is going on inside makes me feel more empowered.  There is also a very good online article bostonshoulderinstitute.com ARCR (Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair) Protocol (Brigham and Women's Hospital.  It's a 34 page easy to read with illustrations, question and answer document.  It might help.  Good luck and post an update after your appt 4/21.  Keep your chin up!!  You will make it!!

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    • Posted

      I went to physical therapy and they were speaking with surgeon. They are afraid I did tear the rotator cuff repair.  Unable to reach my arm up at all. They tell me CT's and MRI do not show the repair. Will just have to see what happens in the next couple weeks and if I regain anything. It is very painful. I am so so blue

       

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    • Posted

      OMG!  I feel so bad for you. This would be horrible the worst nightmare. I don't blame you for feeling blue.  I hope you begin to regain your range of motion and the pain goes away. I will be thinking of you. Please keep us posted.  

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    • Posted

      Keep your chin up.  You will be okay.  It sounds like you smashed the hell out of the shoulder and things are swollen up again.  That doesn't necessarily mean the repairs have failed.  Your doctors should be able to determine if the repair failed.  Three weeks into my recovery I thought that I pulled out the screws.  My specialist took three new x-rays which clearly revealed that the screws were fine.  At nine weeks I had the lidocaine/cortisone injection which has helped tremendously (bicep tendon).  Keep your chin up.  Manage the pain.  Go back to the doctor for another exam.  You will be okay.  You will be okay.  You will be okay.

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    • Posted

      Henpen, thanks so much for the article.  It was indeed informative.  I wish that I read it weeks ago, rather than after my therapy yesterday.  After yesterday's therapy, I was in a tremendous amount of pain and still am over 24 hours later.  The pills aren't even touching the pain and this morning, I added a couple of extra strength tylenol.  I feel my therapist is too aggressive, particularly with the behind the back stretches and the manual manipulation.  I am thinking of discontinuing therapy or finding another one.  I only hope the therapist didn't screw up my surgery. The therapist has me doing things not recommended for a couple of more weeks, according to the article.  Fortunately, I see my doctor on Friday. This much pain at 11 weeks doesn't seem right.  sad   .  

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    • Posted

      I said the same thing about the article!  You do have the right to talk to your PT and your doctor.  They need to be on the same page.  The three of you need to be a team.  Ask lots of questions. Tell your PT that you can do this, but you aren't able to do that at this point.  There is discomfort, and then there is the pain.  Talk to your doctor about the exercises being done, show the doctor (I did).   Did your doctor send you to PT with a written protocol?  If not, why not???   You then take a copy of the written protocol to PT.  Take the article into PT and doctor's appt as a conversation starter.  Explain your concerns and ask the doctor questions regarding your treatment.  KEEP YOUR CHIN UP!!  You are going to make it!!  Good luck and post again when you are able too.  Chin up!!

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