Frozen shoulder after rota cuff repair

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I had a surgery nearly six weeks ago for rotator cuff repair, bone shaved and bursectomy. Three weeks post op at my Physio appointment, my therapist raised concerns about my lack of movement and high level of pain, she referred me back to the surgeon, I had a 19 day wait to see him, when I did see him I explained the areas of pain/concern ( the tip of my shoulder, half way down my arm between shoulder and elbow and my shoulder blade) he told me the pain way caused from the internal sutures and once scar tissue had formed the pain would subside, I saw the surgeon again on Monday, I again raised my concerns, this time after examining me he told me the pain in my arm was from tiny bone fragments from where he had shaved my bone had traveled down my arm!!

Low and behold I then saw a specialist shoulder Physio the following day who has told me its none of the above but acute Frozen shoulder. I am totally at the end of my tether and any feedback would be welcomed

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  • Posted


    Now, I'm going to assume your Physio has thoroughly examined you, but did they test your movement by trying to move your arm for you i.e. with your arm relaxed?

    A frozen shoulder typically means a therapist canot move your arm for you. If the arm can be raised by the therapist, then it's less likely to be a frozen shoulder.

    The bone fragment thing sounds like a lot of hot-air. As I understand it - and I'm not a Dr - your shoulder is gently distended (inflated with) saline that passes through the joint in order to carry away any fragments like that. Unless these can be verified on ultrasound, it sounds like a fob-off. Sadly surgeons do this.

    Ask your Physio to contact your surgeon's office (secretary) and explain their findings. This will be easier if your Physio knows your surgeon.

    Good luck and sorry you're having to endure this.


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    • Posted

      Hi Nick

      Thank you for your input, the Physio did a thorough examination, and took the weight of my arm and attempted several movements, before making his diagnosis, he also examined my arm and felt around the area which is extremely painful, he thought something was not right and sent me off for an xray, this came back ok.

      I am awaiting a call back from the surgeon to discuss exactly what is going on, and intend on asking him the question as to why he failed to diagnose frozen shoulder the day before the specialist Physio did.

      I'm seriously beginning to wonder if they know what they are talking about.

      Thanks again


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    • Posted

      Suzanne, I find that surgeons tend to fob you off after they have done the op and seem to lose all interest. I really despair sometimes of our medical profession.
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    • Posted


      I totally agree, I think the surgeon feels his job is done, I think his ego is very bruised due to the fact that I have complained, he made it very clear how "hurt" he was!! I think the post op care is awful, well below standards set out.

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  • Posted

    Post operative Frozen Shoulder is not rare.

    However, as I'm sure your Physio has advised, you need to take care not to retear it. Look after it while you get the frozen shoulder investigated. FS can be surgically treated.

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  • Posted

    I had the shaving off job, thought they sucked the debris out as they went along ???

    I had lots of pain, and asked why ,as there was no sewing involved. Apparently

    bones feel pain. I did the physio route, and then had accupunture ,WHAT A 

    DIFFERENCE, ask for it. 

    I have to confess, the bones travelling down your arm, a bit hard to swallow.

    If it's any consellation , I had mine done last October, and I still get pain 

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  • Posted


    I'm so sorry to hear your situation.

    I got frozen shoulder (FS) due to a car accident and being in an upper plastic body 'cast' which caused me minimal movement of my shoulder while in recovery.

    I was on major pain meds from the injuries caused in the accident and they did not touch the pain caused by the accident. Those injuries included a crushed T6 vertebrea in my spine causing a need for 2 rods and 12 screws to support and allow recovery, 4 broken ribs, a concussion, a broken ankle and permanant nerve damage to the foot connected to the brojen ankle causing lifelong neurothopy. Needless to say I was on some pretty good pain meds and still am due to the back injury and neurothopy.

    I want to be clear about the level of pain that FS causes therefore felt the full description of my accident and meds I am on warrants mentioning.

    Even on the meds I was taking it did not touch the pain caused by the FS.

    When I first started having pain and lack of movement I thought it was another common injury athletes get that I had before and was able to work out on my own with a list of at home physical therapy workouts given to me by my family physician. So i tried doing those therapy workouts on my own, like before, but after about 6 months no fact much worse!

    I was now in about a year since symptoms started and I was in agony.

    I could not sleep. Laying on that side would cause me to verbally groan in pain. Laying on my back the pain still severe so I could not sleep. If I accidently barely touched my arm or shoulder against a wall or do going around a corner a literally bent over and cried out in pain. I could not lift my arm, by this time, no more than a couple of inches from my side and could not manipulate movement towards my back at all.

    I finally spoke with my Dr and he thought it could be additional nerve damage from the back injury to my spinal cord. (This was also my fear long before which is why I put off saying anything for so long. I had 2 additional surgeries within 9 months after my accident due to things the trauma doctor found when I was brought into the trauma unit that could not be put off so I did not want anymore surgery! )

    He scheduled a nerve test and the results were conclusive...I had severe FS.

    I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon and he immediately suggested bypassing normal start treatments such as steroid injections due to the severity of my case and the fact that I am a Type 2 diabetic. He felt that my FS had progressed so far along with no signs of it warming up on its own that I would be unable to handle the pain to try and do just therapy with steroid shots. He suggested to go directly to surgical assistance and have manual manipulation under Anesthesia and arthroscopic surgery to remove scar tissue causing the FS of the scarred shoulder.

    At this point I was in so much pain I did not even think about it...I scheduled surgery the next week.

    Depending on your severity, if you have FS, surgery most likely would not be your doctor's1st choice and rightfully so.

    In any case, the most important thing with FS recovery is the physical therapy.

    It is long and very painful recovery.

    You will cry the 1st day... the therapists said grown men do all the time and I know a few tears flowed out on me.

    That being said...therapy is the most important part of recovery, it is lifelong and requires dedication to continue the process at home.

    Once you have FS you are VERY susceptible to getting it again not just in the same shoulder but can get it in the other one. For some reason this occurs quite often...the jumping of shoulders.

    It has been 18 months since my surgery and I am about 90% recovery which is about max of what was expected. The pain has gone except for some aches if I overdo it but that is pretty minimal.

    Good Luck to you. I honestly hope it is not FS but something easier to repair, less painful and not something that is lifelong to take care of. I wouldn't wish FS on my worst enemy it is that bad.

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  • Posted

    Hello Suzanne yes that excuse is about as good as leaves on the track when the trains are delayed

    I have also had the op with the bone being shaved and keyhole at the same time,when I signed the consent form the surgeon did tell me that FS is very common especially when there is intervention they do not know why some people get it and some done not, I to am now Frozen the physio therapist sent me back to the consultant who gave he a steroid injection in both shoulders as I also need the op on the right arm , injections have not worked and in a couple of weeks he will put me under and manipulate the arm and shoulder,it got to a point where the physio therapist could not make any headway 

    The pain from the op was massive you cannot under estimate how many drugs you need to take but it does get better slowly it will heal and then it's a different path to recovery we just need to be patient my op was May 25 Iam desperate for the right arm to sort its self as then I can have the right shoulder done and then I will see the light 

    positive thoughts 


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  • Posted

    I have just found this forum and finding the posts very interesting.  I have had a shoulder problem for a little under two years, and tried conservative methods first to try to remedy it.  I originally had a an ultrasound scan which showed no evidence of full thickness or significant partial thickness rotator cuff tear, just mild/moderate supraspinatus tendinosis and moderate subacromial bursitis.  I subsequently had two injections, both of which gave temporary relief, but after a further x-ray was then advised by the consultant I saw to have open SAD surgery. Although I was understandably reluctant, he assured me it would give relief, and as it was becoming more bothersome with pain radiating down to my elbow and very disturbed sleep, I felt I had no option.  I had the surgery 6 days ago and he tells me it went very well.  However, there was a rotator cuff tear that was not detected (3cm) and this was repaired.  On speaking with him after the procedure, and also the physio at the hospital, the advice I have been given is not to wear the sling.  The referral letter I have been given for passing on to my local physio outpatients clinic says 3cm rotator cuff tear repaired - stable with all ROM - no restrictions to movement.  I even called and double checked with the hospital and apparently this is the consultant's method of re-hab.  He says it avoids frozen shoulder.  However, after reading so many experiences from patients, and advice from experts, this seems to be the complete opposite to the general advice.  My concern is of course, that I end up with more damage than I started with.  If it was just the post op pain and the inconvenience of being unable to drive for a while (I have a follow up with the consultant in 3 weeks) I would feel better, but it's the uncertainty of how to proceed from here.  Has anyone else received similar post op advice?
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    • Posted

      You're right to question this.

      I have had both open and keyhole repairs and Tge advice for open is to do more early mobilisation.

      If I were you I'd wear the sling for 5 weeks. Take the arm out three times a day and rest it on a table top with your elbow bent. Gently sway your body but don't move your arm. And don't let your arm come across your body as this will stretch the repair. Your just trying to gently mobilise the shoulder.

      Ask your physio if not sure. I'm not a doc nor a physio

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    • Posted

      Thank you.  I am pretty much going along with what you say and erring on the side of caution. I think my heart would like to follow the consultant's advice, and therefore the physio attached to the hospital, but my head tells me I could well regret it further along the line.  I have reasonable mobility and the pain is manageable, and I know the local physio outpatients dept will be in favour of using the sling.  I haven't received an appointment date yet but I guess they are of the opinion that its a bit soon for physio.  I guess I have to try to be a bit patient.
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