6 Weeks Post Op

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My problems began in July when I heard a rip in my right shoulder while bench pressing 225 pounds.  After suffering for 2 months, an MRI confirmed a full thickness supraspinatus tear.  Between the time of my MRI and my surgery I managed to damage the tendon even more.  I will be at 6 weeks post op on Thursday.  This has been a rough experience.  For the first 4-5 days the pain was intense.  The doctor told me my tear was much worse than the MRI indicated (I told him it would be) and that a good deal of work was needed to get everything back together so he understood the pain.  At about 10 days things became tolerable but I am still in the sling.  If I don’t wear it to sleep I am in a good deal of pain in the morning.  I am supposed to start P.T next week.  I have heard that will be very painful.

This past weekend I took the sling off to do some housecleaning.  I didn’t lift anything and there was no “ow” moment but since then my shoulder has started to click again and the pain has been a bit worse.  I have worn the sling continuously since then and the clicking seems to have subsided but the shoulder is very stiff and sore and I am concerned that I may have done some serious damage.  Any thoughts/recommendations would be appreciated.

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  • Posted

    ICE ICE ICE!!  Slow and steady!!!  Remember the injury/recovery is temporary UNLESS you do something.  I had a crazy injury which tore three of the four r cuff muscle tendons.  Supraspinatus and Infraspinatus massive full-thickness tears- both ripped completely off the humeral head.  Subscapularis a partial tear.  15 weeks into PT my PT ripped the supraspinatus tendon off its anchors!! UGH... re-repair surgery 6/2/17.  I went to a different PT.  OH, MY GOD.  The new PT was an ANGEL from God.  ZERO PAIN and here I sit today with FULL Range of Motion!!!  WOW...  I've been through it all with the shoulder repair. I am working on strength now (on my own). I hope to start swimming again soon.  Remember you have a way to go with your recovery.  My second PT was fantastic.  I never had pain.  She worked me so hard I was sweating puddles but NEVER EVER pain.  Good luck with PT and stay focused on the result. DO NOT FORCE IT.  My first PT did not understand this...he pushed it foolishly and ripped the repair off the anchor.  SLOW and STEADY.  Ask questions.  Remember your body posture.  Drop the shoulder and pinch the blades  ICE ICE ICE and use the sling when you must.  I slept with it on for a while.  I also piled 5-6 standard bed pillows to build a wedge and cradle.  SLOW AND STEADY you can do it!!!

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    • Posted

      Thank you.  I appreciate you sharing your story.  At this point, it would be very difficult to think about going through this all over again.  I admire your determination and thank you for your support.
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    • Posted

      Thank you.  I was very emotional after the first PT ripped one of the repairs four its anchors.  I wept in my surgeon's office even though I knew what was coming, i.e., another surgery 4 months after the first.  I fired the first PT and filed a formal complaint against the first PT which is being investigated.   My surgeon and the same surgical team performed the second surgery.  The second surgery was supposed to take three hours.  It ended up taking FIVE  hours!!  Double row of anchors was used this time around to reattach the supraspinatus to the humeral head.  My neck and shoulder were bruised again.  The nerve block wore off at 22 hours at 22 hours and 3 minutes the pain was excruciating.   I used 60 pain pills for 13 days.  I packed my shoulder and neck with ice 4 to 6 times every day to cool off the pain.  I stopped the pain pills and could not use Naproxen (created raw stomach)  Ice and cold cans of soda,  frozen water bottles, gel cold packs, baggies of ice anything cold to push back the pain.  Wonderful new PT who worked with my ortho surgeon made the second recovery unremarkable.   PAIN-FREE  and complete full ROM.   I am in my 50s.  People cannot believe my range of motion.  If I can do it, you can do it.  Stay positive.  You will have highs and lows.  Work through it and remember to ice!!

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    • Posted

      Thank you.  I am making progress but it is tough being so fragile and in this much pain more than 6 weeks post surgery.  I am very optimistic about p.t.  Attitude is everything.  It is easy to feel sorry for yourself but if you can have such a positive attitude then it should be easy for me.  Thank you for the support.
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  • Posted

    At 6 weeks post op I felt the same as you and believed the op was a waste of time.  However, at 12 weeks I have been improving very slowly each week with the help of physio & hydrotherapy and daily exercises.  Whilst I do not yet have full movement (and may not ever get to that stage), I have only slight discomfort and can perform most daily tasks.  Don't give up hope-it is a long haul but keep at it.  My surgeon is suggesting a MUA (manipulation under anaesthetic) to try to improve movement but I have to say I am not keen on another GA so will continue with physio for the time being & see how it goes.  I am 67 so I guess I can't expect to achieve perfection! Good luck & keep in touch.

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    • Posted

       Thank you.  This is very good to know.  I was not prepared for the pain or for the length of recovery.  Now I understand.  The last thing I want to do is go through this again so I intend to take it very slow.  
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  • Posted

    Did you also have a reposition of the long-neck of your bicep tendon? It one of the two tendons attached to your biceps muscle, and it runs underneath the supraspinatus rotator cuff. If you did, you need to keep your arm quiet for about six weeks so that scar tissue can form and secure the tendon in place. If that part of the operation fails, then you end up with a Popeye the Sailor bicep, which is only attached with the short neck tendon. You should stay in your sling for the six week period as this scarring occurs.  Because you will do nothing but passive ROM your arm will be stiff and sore. I started PT immediately after surgery, doing the pendulum swings and squeezing the ball. Passive ROM by PT with TENS and cold packs lasted six weeks, when Passive Assistive ROM occurred. That lasted six weeks until I was able to do some active ROM. Weights did not happen for about 15 weeks post-op. It has been over six months since surgery and I have what feels like impingement in my surgical shoulder with internal arm rotation. It awakens me at night and I still sometimes need to sleep in the recliner. I also got olecranon bursitis of my elbow from repetitive motion (exercise) so had to back off the exercises that affected the elbow. I have been told the crunching in my shoulder was scar tissue that I had to break through, but that is a difficult thing to do when I am trying to not move my elbow very much. The whole process is slow and tedious, frustrating and painful. It takes much patience and can take up to a year to heal and finally be what you had hoped it would be, Some days/nights are okay, others are horribly painful. If you are really concerned you have pulled the rotator cuff out of the anchors, talk to your doctor. Get a repeat MRI, though they will tell you that it won't tell them much. God bless you as you heal. 

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    • Posted

      Thank you for the reply.  If I had that procedure to my bicep tendon it is news to me.  I was told I had the tendons in the shoulder reattached with 3 anchors.  I have been especially good about keeping my shoulder in the sling since I first heard the clicking again on Saturday and the situation seems to have improved.  I now only hear intermittent clicking.  The shoulder has become much more sore and painful so I am now taking 3-4 hydrocodone per day to manage the situation.  I start p.t. on Tuesday and I am a bit concerned because of my pain level but I will give it a try.  I had no idea how difficult this recovery was going to be....I had a 2 level cervical fusion in 2013 and that was a breeze compared to this.  It is comforting to connect with others who understand and can provide reassurance and support.  Thank you.
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    • Posted

      I had a double AC fusion too, but that was in 1989. A biproduct of running an ICU unit and having to lift heavy patients. If you think your neck might be causing some if the arm discomfort, after the anchors (i had 8) and the supraspinaus scar into place, then a little very light cervical traction can help. And I mean light. Maybe 5-8 pounds of over-the-door traction once a day.  I would not do that until after the 12 to 18 week. It helped the pain in my central  posterior supraspinatus. 

      Only do the few exercises they gave you until you go to PT and there they will start you only on passive ROM. Don't ever go beyond your tolerance for pain. Pain is saying, "You can stop what you are doing now".  

      This is by far the most painful surgical procedure (i took care of open heart surgicals for years and their pain levels do not even. Ome close to the pain levels a rotator cuff repair inflicts on a patient), and the recovery is slow and random. Some days you think, "Hey, I am doing well today; I must be on the road to recovery and each day will be better". Its not. The very next day, or seversl days later you might feel like you are regressing, and the new pain you feel may discourage you. I think it is part of the process. Give it one year!!!

      I have used lidocaine patches on my arm and on the scapular area when it gets unbearable, but that was after the five  holes and  incisions had healed. They have been my lifeline. Also, PT has put on kinetic tape to roll my shoulder toward the back. Since you can't do strengthening exercises this early  (rowing machine for instance) you need to always try to hold the shoulder ball back and downwards using your lats (in your back and between your scapulas) and seratus muscles (under your arm). 

      If you are on Oxycodone be sure to not get constipated. Use doctor's protocols to assure you are poohing. Oxy and other narcotis slow the motility down in your gut and the result can be very uncomfortable. Hang in there. It will get better. My warmest regards!!

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    • Posted

      Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to me and sharing your story.  I do appreciate it.  I admit I was not prepared for the pain or the difficult recovery.  Part of the problem was that the doctor did not realize how bad the tear was until he got inside but it was primarily just ignorance on my part.  Yesterday was the 6 week mark so I have put the sling down.  Last night I missed sleeping in it and the shoulder hurt quite a bit this morning so I may put it back on tonight.  Overall I think I am doing well but I am very impatient.  I am going to gradually start trying to get back into my old routine.  At least now I can go to the gym and do 20-30 minutes on the elliptical machine with no sling.  Of course I won’t do anything with my arms-not ready for that yet.  

      Thank you for the support and the advice.

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