Scheduled For Shoulder Surgery-dont know what to expect

Edited , 4 users are following.

Hi,

I have had shoulder pain for 5 years. Yes, you read it correctly. FIVE years!

My first orthopedic doc said I just needed PT. He did not do any images. I had pain in my right shoulder and down the front of my arm but had good ROM.

I went to PT for over 6 months and she said she did all she could and released me saying to see how it goes and call if I had more issues.

In that time I had a frozen shoulder as well.

I lived with the pain on and off until I saw another ortho (PA) in October of 2018 after finding a swollen painful bump on my bicep. The PA felt the bump could be due to a flu shot (she said she had seen this before). She ordered a CT on the bicep and it was negative (she did not have them image my shoulder). She then ordered an MRI of my shoulder but my insurance BCBS refused to pay and wanted me to do PT.

I returned to PT late October of 2018 with moderate to severe pain in right shoulder along with this new bump in my arm at bicep. My PT felt the bump and pain was from over compensating for the shoulder. I had relief with PT 2x a week but had to continue going as pressure points, pain were continuing. We were constantly chasing the pain.

In March of last year I saw another PA who did an X-ray and said I did not have a torn rotator cuff and to continue PT.

I continued PT and in September of 2019 at the urging of my PT saw a different ortho doctor (not a PA) in a different group.

He ordered an MRI and this is the result.

"Focal tendinopathy in the posterior fibers of the supraspinatus which may be related to impingement in the setting of associated subacromial bursitis and small subacromial spur."

I had a cortisone shot in October that wore off completely by mid December and even while going to PT have had two very painful episodes, one mid December and one mid January.

I saw my ortho doc last week and he said he likes to treat things conservatively but because this has been going on 5 years and PT is not resolving it nor did the cortisone shot it may be time to do surgery. It could be A) frayed bicep tendon, B) impingement with bone spur causing all this pain or something else in addition to this not seen on the MRI. My ROM is very good as is my strength leading my PT and doctor to think it is not a torn rotator cuff.

I am scheduled for surgery in late March and am dreading it knowing the pain that will come afterward but also so sick of having this pain for 5 years, I just want it to end!

Can anyone here tell me their experience with the surgery? TIA

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  • Edited

    Imagine yourself not being able to use that shoulder/arm you will have surgery on. You will be immobilized from 3-6 weeks.

    You need to prepare. There is a wonderful Youtube video by a woman who helped her husband go through shoulder surgery. She covers EVERYTHING: pain meds, how to sleep, dress, food, etc. etc. Watch that video 3 times.

    Her Youtube channel is: YouTips4u

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    • Posted

      Mike thank you so much for the information. I have Googled the information but felt hearing from people who have actually had the surgeries would be most helpful. I appreciate the suggestion of Youtips4u and will be watching the video!

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    • Edited

      Nothing matches actual experience believe me. And that woman who does the Youtips4 is a lifesaver. She was so thorough and saved me so much trouble.

      You might want to prepare like I said, either elevate your bed with books and surround yourself with pillows or use a laz-y-boy type recliner or use both the lazyboy and the bed. Check with your insurance to make sure they give you an ice machine and possibly even a Shoulder exercise machine. So many things, too many to go over in a post. That video is the most comprehensive perspective of what a husband/wife went through with shoulder surgery. I can't say enough good things about that video.

      I've been through 2 shoulder surgeries btw.

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    • Posted

      Thanks Mike. Did you have rotator cuff surgery? My BIL had both shoulders done. Ugh, cant imagine having 2. I feel for you.

      That is supposed to be the most painful. Hoping I do not have any issues there. So far I found her videos for 4 months and 7 months post operation but I had to go out. Will look some more. Need to hear about the ice machine as well.

      I do not have a recliner but my bed moves up and down head and bottom so hoping that will be a big help.

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    • Edited

      Hi, Nancy:

      Sounds like your shoulder issue is not too serious. It's not hard and fast but it seems that the smaller issues sometimes have more pain than the larger ones. I had major rotator cuff damage, spanning supra and infra, labrum, torn bicep, etc. Left shoulder was worse than right.

      Yet, from reading this forum, it seems that after shoulder surgery everyone is pretty much weak and stiff and it takes awhile to get back that ROM and strength.

      I'm thinking you may have a much easier time of it than most and that your pain will be resolved.

      The most trying part of all of this is the mental game. You need constant reassurance that things are getting better, being persistent in doing your exercises, try and keep a positive attitude, get lots of rest (hence the ice machine, recliner or inclined bed settings, maybe a tens machine). Your physical therapist plays a big part in all of this and I hope yours will not only reassure you but administer the electrostim, ultrasound therapy, biofreeze massage, etc.

      The more you prepare for all of this and work with your therapist the better. Keep us posted

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  • Edited

    It sounds like you are probably going to have a subacromial decompression which us usually done arthroscopically (key hole surgery) I went through the same thing with my shoulder several years ago; several months of PT and pain that never got better. My surgeon asked " why did you wait so long?!" The bone spur you have is probably irritating the rotator cuff tendons, thus your pain. Although the surgery will cause some discomfort, your pain should improve very soon after they reduce the spur causing the irritation. Key hole surgery has a much quicker recovery time than regular open surgery. My advise to you is to make sure your surgeon is planning to do the op with a scope. If he isn't,find yourself a different surgeon. Short of a full shoulder replacement (which I now have thanks to a skiing accident) and total cuff repair, there are very few procedures that can not be done with an arthroscope now. Good luck

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    • Posted

      st67005 thanks so much! he said the surgery would be arthroscopic. I worked in cardiology at the local hospital as a tech so luckily do understand a lot when the doctor describes everything to me. I am praying there are no surprise tears so my recovery time is less.

      I appreciate the information.

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