Just curious - would you do surgery again?

Posted , 7 users are following.

I had an excellent experience with stem cell treatment on my right shoulder last July. Had a tear but no retraction. Haven't had a problem since and recovery was a snap! Minor discomfort for less than a week with return to use right away with strengthening over time.

Then I fell and injured my left shoulder - tear with retraction. I really didn't know what had happened as I was able to use my left arm, it was just 'weak' and I thought sore from fall. When it didn't get better I had an MRI which confirmed the tear with retraction.

The stem cell doctor told me that stem cells have been used to repair such a tear, but it was a 50-50 chance. He recommended surgery to mechanically repair the tear. We agreed that I could always have stem cell treatment after the surgery if that would assist or accelerate the healing.

I have to say that I was not really prepared for the extensive recovery routine that this (arthroscopic) surgery requires! If I had found this site before surgery I seriously think I might have opted for using stem cell again.

I am not a weak sister, feint hearted type and actually have almost no pain after the surgery. But reality of 'immobility' and then a long PT period following has me concerned as I tend to be active and I wonder if whatever movement I do do will result in undoing the surgery. That and how uncomfortable and unsettling sleep is. I seriously wonder about my arm position when sleeping, even in a 'reclining' position.

Another thing that bothers me is how passive I am encouraged to be other than what/when I am directed to act/move. Certainly the doctor has experience with this, but I seem to have no part providing insights that I could make if I was supplied with hints as to what I can be looking for as well as limitation parameters (how little/ much?) that I could be made aware of (and provide feedback).

Yes this a bit of whine and I can and will follow thru as I am now committed to this recovery. However while many patients are content to be passive participants with this, I can't help but feel that my recovery could be enhanced by me being more supplied with limiting parameters (how much/how little to do x, y and/or z). Yes the doctor is most likely experienced in observing and determining patient progress, but if I had 'watch for these . . ." I could more effectively keep my recovery in line and moving smoothly along.

Thanks for reading and I hope others will respond with their own comments (no advice to me need thanks).

0 likes, 23 replies

23 Replies

  • Posted

     Wow that is quite a story. You have been through a lot. Somebody suggested I look into stem cell repair before I had my surgery. But I trusted that surgery was needed because I feared that my tear was really bad. As it turns out I had almost 100% tear. The doctor said it was pretty shredded. There was a lot of cleanup to do and many sutures to pull it back together.

     I also had a large calcium deposit growing on the back of the shoulder that needed to be removed .

    I can’t imagine stem cell being able to repair that? 

     But honestly I had no idea that it was gonna be this painful. I have had both of my knees (meniscus) that was very shredded cleaned up and my recovery wasn’t nearly as painful or cumbersome, or inconvenient.

     It really has been difficult. Would I do it again was your question?  

     I told both of my daughters I will never have surgery again. I hope I never have to. I had to have this repaired though, because it was so painful I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t move my arm, I couldn’t hold onto the steering wheel when I drove a car, I couldn’t even lift a coffee cup with my right hand. I’m hoping the recovery and the physical therapy is quicker than what I’m hearing. I have a friend that had it done & his was six months and he was able to move pretty freely. I’m hoping on that !  

    • Posted

      I vowed I would never go through shoulder surgery again.   But here I am.  When it gets so painful and your daily life is affected, then  I had no choice.  I was dropping things and losing strength, I couldn't sleep, couldn't do much of anything and it was getting worse.   It was a little easier the 2nd time.  I knew what to expect and knew I would be spending many hours in rehab.  So I psyched myself up and did it.   


    • Posted

      I have had HAPPY stem cell treatment of both knees - one bone on bone - and on my (right) shoulder too. Incredible recovery all times. I wish I had understood the difference between 'retracted' tear and separated tendon. With the retracted there was some separation, but apparently some tissue still connecting and perhaps adhering to bone. It might not have been the best situation for stem cells, but that wouldn't be as 'delicate' as the rotator cuff is now post surgery. Plus the stem cell group uses botox to 'immobilize' the tissues during healing. No sling?!? Oh well, water under the bridge. Just wish there had been more insight into the over all surgery & recovery process. Again, this site is about the best chance a person could have at gaining that insight - hopefully BEFORE final decision is made. 

    • Posted

       Thank you for your input. I hope and pray that I don’t have to have it again. And I’m so thankful that I found this site and hearing everybodies  stories. I’ve run into three different people on the street with slings and all we do is look at each other smile, stop and say “rotator cuff surgery?“

       It’s kind of funny when you think of it but also not. One woman actually stopped and spoke with me for a while we talked about when her surgery was that she is now wearing a soft sling and not wearing the same cumbersome immobilizer that I’m wearing. 

       I asked her about the elbow pain when she finally got to straighten her arm. She agreed that was more painful than the shoulder itself. I’m on day four of my stretching exercises and gently dangling my arm. And now I’m almost completely straight. However last night I woke up all night in severe pain!

      I had to put an ice pack on at midnight and another at 3 AM. Tylenol extra strength is just not working and I can’t take anything else at this point. I do hope this gets better fingers crossed !

    • Posted

      My doctor has a different protocol I guess.  He had me  doing elbow bends and wrist range of motion exercises from day 1.  He said I could bend my elbow, just never ever move the shoulder or use any shoulder muscles.  So I have not had that particular difficulty.   Now, however, at 2 weeks, he has me doing the wall walks and pendulums.   He has been called a few unsavory names by me, especially at the wall.  ha ha   But I do them and ice it down.   Keep it up Mia...it WILL get better.
  • Posted

    I haven’t had the surgery yet because of the time commitment for rehab.  I have a complete separation of one tendon and a partial tear in an other.   My understanding is that stem cell would be of little help with the totally detached tendon. I have postponed the surgery after much reading and discussion about the rehab. By postponed I mean to either fall 2018 or spring 2019. My arm is weak but I have excellent range of motion.  I have other medical issues I need to address before making the time commitment for rehab , and a long planned trip I want to take. My understanding is that failure to repair would leave me open to increasing arthritis , pain and instability in that shoulder.  After a lot of reading  I intend to get the shoulder repaired. It’s just not right now 

    • Posted

      Don't wait please for the love of god don't wait I waited which lead me to a complete shoulder replacement at 45  you can read what i have been through in the post. the longer you wait the more muscle gets damaged the more your existing tendons stretch as they carry more of the load a trip can be re-booked you only have two shoulders  and for an everyday life, they make it kinda handy to have 


  • Posted

    in Sept of '16 i FINALLY got in for my shoulder replacement at first, it was fine the pain i thought would be there after living with everyday shoulder pain for two years the pain i felt was a new but not bad feeling it was a surgical sore that healing pain. 

    Sept 14th ( the surgery was on the 6th) i was still draining a lot of cereus fluid out of the top of my incision called my surgeon as my shoulder began to hurt much more as time went on, He suggested that i go to our local hospital see the Ortho on call and we would go from there. 

    over the next 6 weeks that i spent in the hospital, i went through 6 debridements and 7 washouts to try and bring the infection under control. After the longest most painful ( and i have been shot)  6 weeks of my life they sent me home with a PIC line for IV antibiotics i would have to take for the next month 4 times a day. 

     A Week later my wife was helping me have a shower and maneuver around all the tubing wiring and cables between the Iv and its pump she told me my shoulder was smelling very bad. i had gotten used to it i guess because i could not smell anything wrong. 

      at my 12 weeks check up my surgeon wanted to see how the concrete spacer was holding up as they had to remove all of the prosthesis during the debrides and washouts. 

    My surgeon wanted a Xray as the tech gently turned my arm to get it into position my incision exploded in a fountain of liquid blood and chunks of infected tissue being rushed back to ER to undergo yet another washout my body finally said enough and drug its three hundred pound heels in. As they put me under for the washout the amount of anesthesia required was fairly large but had also built up in my system. I remember hearing the Doc saying he was going to put me to sleep now and the next thing i rememeber it was 5 days later i was on a respirator helping me breathe hooked up to every monitor known to man. My wife through her tears hugs and not moving more than six inches from me explained that as they were giving me the propenal i stopped breathing then my heart stopped i was clinically dead for 6 mins 28 seconds according to the monitors. 

    So now sit with NOTHING in my shoulder joint two small wires from the humeral head to the scapula holding everything in place somewhat until i move and the two raw bones rub apart enough pain to drop you to your knees. Still infected what finally turned into 15 weeks of IV therapy and orally antibiotics. living in a blur of days as i am taking morphine for pain up to 60 mg fast acting breakthrough pills and 130mg of slow release tabs i take twice a day. 

    Would i do my surgery again ..... HELL NO i had limited use of my right arm before Sept let say maybe as high as 40% of normal everyday functions i am now down to less than 5% as i cannot open a door or hold a cup of coffee in my right arm no strength and the pain comes in intense waves. 

    My surgeon told me last week as i am scheduled for another debridement next week Wednesday the 7th if he has to remove much more infected bone i am going to lose my right arm they will not have a choice they will amputate. as the shoulder and the arm is dead weight. He is worried about the infection spreading into my chest and with this strain of staph it would kill me as i have no defenses left.  

    Thanks all for letting rant and get some of that off my chest ....... All i can say is i am scared REAL scared of what he is going to say wed after the procedure  but the only thing i can do is roll with it and try to get better 

    If you're of the type to pray i will take all the prayers i can get 




    • Posted

      Yours is the NIGHTMARE that all of us - surgeons included - dread and wouldn't wish on anyone (except a few selected politicians - lol).

      I had to wash down my shoulder area with a very caustic cleanser evening & morning shower of my surgery date. I ended up with a rash on the 'washed' area, but NO infection - phew!!

      You sure do have my prayers and may Wed. prove to be the beginning of a recovery for you.

      (PS I had a sister in law who had a 'useless' arm (polio as child) and she trained the other arm into doing everything we can imagine - including being an amazing artist.)

    • Posted

       Excuse my French but, holy s**t what a nightmare. That is the most gruesome horrific story I think I’ve ever heard. I can’t believe your doctor didn’t know it was infected didn’t have you on massive amounts of anabiotic’s and wasn’t checking on you every week. I can’t imagine the pain. I think I will not complain anymore after that story. That made my stomach turn and I actually had to stop reading at one point. 

    • Posted

       I am assuming you had been opened up, correct? I have  4 small holes in my shoulder the largest being  the size of the head of a pin !

      My doctor checked me after 1 day,  one week.. then 3 weeks!

       I was on anabiotic‘s for the first 10 days. I didn’t have drainage, I didn’t have anything going on.

      ( I think the only thing I had was my armpit smelled because my arm was in the sling and closed all the time)

      That was it!!

      I think I am very lucky. In my area where I live, there are the top surgeons in California. I think I got a good one, no I know for a fact I got the best one.  

    • Posted

      Darren, that is horrific. All I can say is I'm sorry and you will be in my thoughts and prayers that you don't lose your arm.

    • Posted

      Prayers for your surgery and recovery Darren.  You have been through a horrible ordeal.  
  • Posted

    Passed over the 1/2 way point a few days ago and am finding sleep easier though still not as deep or comfortable as before surgery. I'm still not thrilled that a better insight (ultra sound?) isn't used to really determine how the operated on areas ARE doing.

    • Posted

      I also wish there was a way to tell  that everything is okay.  Some days, like today, it really hurts down my arm and in front of my arm and I worry I did something to it.  It's a very stressful surgery, trying to find a way to cope with the sling/immobilzer, trying to do things with just my non dominate arm, trying to sleep, dealing with the pain.  I'm a  month post op and starting to feel the depression sinking in.  I'm just tired of it all.  Seems like I've been  dealing with this shoulder pain forever and I'm so ready to be done with it.

    • Posted

      Grammie-  I hear you!!!!  I’m six weeks today postop. My immobilizer was discontinued 4 days ago. And I’ve been given some stretches to do. I’m still waking up at night having to ice my shoulder because the pain is excruciating. And that’s after taking 1500 mg of extra strength Tylenol. Nothing helps. I just want to good nights sleep. The muscle in the front of my arm, the back of my arm, and where you get writers cramp whatever that muscle is called? Those muscles are constantly in pain almost more than my shoulder. I don’t understand why & I asked my doctor & he just said it’s normal!!! Ugh

       One thing that helps the pain for me is making sure the knots in my shoulders are massaged multiple times a day. If I can’t have somebody do it for me then I roll on a lacrosse ball on the wall and it releases the tightening that’s pulling on everything. Being able to stand in a hot shower was wonderful but once I got out I was trying to figure out how to dry myself off. With one hand. I agree with you it is the worst surgery and I hope I never have to have it again. I was completely unprepared for how long this pain was gonna last. I start PT next week! Hope that helps!

    • Posted

      I am so  sorry you are having that pain in your arm, but it makes me feel better to know that maybe it is normal.  I was getting worried I did something I  shouldn't.  i have been using a heating pad on my arm in the evening before bed.  Seems to loosen those muscles up so I sleep pretty good, relatively speaking.   2 more  weeks  until PT.  I am actually looking forward to that so that I can get on that road to recovery.

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