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Torn Rotator Cuff

  1. Tore mine a little over two weeks ago. The first week was excruciatingly painful. The pain is a little better now, but still very limited range of motion.

    Anybody here been through this? Did you opt for surgery or PT, and how long before you regained complete pain free range of motion?
  2. Twice on the same shoulder. Actually tore it for the third time as the second surgery had the shoulder held together by threads. Doc said he wasn't optimistic. Go to the doctor and get an MRI. It is the only way to determine the extent of the injury.

    Tears do not heal themselves so it depends on how bad it is.

    Some can recover fully, others never. Getting your range of motion back is more important than strength. That will come back over time.

    Good luck.
  3. I've got torn rotator cuffs in both shoulders. True, they never heal but the doctors, if they are really being honest, will admit that any procedures they do are just bandaids. Range of motion is the paramount concern. My PT said lift less weight, change my workout to minimize stress on the shoulder joint, and work the range of motion to recover. Yes it's going to hurt and yes it's going to take a long time to recover. Getting older ain't for sissies!!
  4. I had it, confirmed by MRI. Opted to avoid surgery and went with PT and pain meds.
    I ended up basically slacking off on PT and just living with it. I don’t reach up for plates on the high shelves much anymore.
  5. Thanks guys. From what I've read surgery appears to be hit or miss. And yes, range of motion is absolutely what I'm concerned with.
  6. As everyone else has said, be sure to get an MRI first, to be sure you have what you think you have.
    "Torn rotator cuff" is often used to describe a variety of shoulder issues, some of which are not actually the rotator cuff. I had a "labrum tear" eleven years ago that the doc did a great job of repairing. Not throwing any fastballs, but it's holding up pretty well. No surgery ever gets you back to where you were before the issue occurred.
    As for PT: That varies by individual. PT will not "repair" anything, only help you live with it ... when it works. I never had luck with PT before the surgery. After the surgery, it got me back in good shape. I view PT as a "post-surgery" tool.
    Most important advice I can give you: Get several opinions before you do any surgery. The doc I finally chose was the fourth doc I had seen. The other three weren't of much help.
  7. I've been dealing with a chronic torn rotator cuff for many years. When I was in my mid-50s, my orthopedist recommended against surgery because he said at my age there was at least a 50-50 chance the surgery would make things worse. He sent me to physical therapy instead. I've been to PT several times for this, so I wasn't optimistic, but he sent me to a guy who specialized in golfers' shoulders, and he turned out to be pretty good. At the end though, he told me my shoulder will never be right. He gave me stretches and exercises to do for the rest of my life and said the best I could hope for was to keep it under control. That was 10 years ago, and I was doing pretty well until it flared up about 2 months ago. I suspect I'm going to end up in PT again.
  8. Good advice on MRI: know how bad it is before doing anything.

    Wife had surgery, then PT. She got to about 80%. So like a previous post said, she now has to go on tiptoes to get stuff high (or get me to do it).
  9. I was lucky. I thought I had one about 15 years ago. MRI said I had one. I went into surgery thinking I had one. Woke up. Doc said it was just bone spurs.

    They ground them out. Then a few weeks of PT. Then some limitation of motion for awhile. Now I don't even think about it and can do anything I want to.

    Friend of mine who's a professional carpenter fell years ago. Trying to catch himself on a rafter, he tore his left shoulder very seriously. They cut him open and operated. For a long time ( I think about 3 months) he had to keep the left arm strapped down to prevent movement of any kind. Then PT. Today he's back at work and can do about anything he wants.

    Good Luck.
  10. Ask your surgeon. The better ones will do what they can to not operate.
    Most will ask you to try PT first but it all depends on the injury.
    The surgery recovery sucks. The weakened tissue for the rest of time sucks too.
    Good luck and do exactly what they tell you. No more no less. This comes from someone who hates physical terrorists
  11. I had a very old one in my left shoulder that I was living with but I got frozen shoulder in my right one and while I was down with that it was clear that I needed surgery. I had a partial replacement, went thru PT and have no pain and some limits to high range of motion but my total gym helps that. Glad I did it.
  12. You need a MRI to see how bad the tear is and find yourself a damn good orthopedic surgeon.

    I had a complete tear in my right shoulder a few years ago. It was so bad I had to have two screws installed to help with keeping it in place. On top of that my bicep tendon was also tore.

    One of the worse things after surgery was trying to sleep at night sitting up. Taking a shower and dressing yourself will be a pain for a while.

    After I was in physical therapy for about 5 to 6 months, I started going to the YMCA every day and going in the pool and just do range of motion without getting overboard. The therapist didn't want me going before they were afraid of me falling. But my stubborn ass went and my recovery just got easier and easier. Also used the physical therapy rubber bands to build my strength back.

    2 years later, no pain, no problems but it does get sore in the cold wet dampness which is expected.

    Good luck to you Sir
  13. This is all true and pretty much mirrors my experience with a work related injury. Be very careful that you don't damage the other side during recovery. I recommend an ice machine after surgery.
  14. I thought I did... terrible pain and punishment for being stupid. Dr got me an MRI and no tear, no real damage...just a strain.

    My sympathies for those who have done worse, I would imagine the pain level for actually tearing it is a few levels up from my painful strain.

    Go see a specialist as soon as you can.
  15. I severed the rotator cuff in my left shoulder.

    They went in, repaired all they could repair. Had to "relieve" (cut/disconnect)a bicep tendon that was almost torn from the labrum. The rotator cuff had been severed and retracted to wherever it retracts to and there was nothing they could do.

    No pain now, but I can't raise my left arm straight up or out to the side.

    Do what the PT says.
  16. I had a "punctured" rotator cuff caused by a bone spur. Hurt like hell. I suggest finding the best orthopedic surgeon at the best teaching hospital who has done the most repairs. Have the surgery to avoid future loss of motion. (Loss of motion in the future can cause an untold number of unforeseen problems. E.g. Can't reach your firearm. Can't catch yourself from slipping. Can't deflect a falling object. Can't pull yourself into a boat. Etc., etc., etc.)

    Key to any rotator cuff repair is doing the PT. Do EXACTLY what the physical therapist instructs and not one rep more or one rep less. Do that and you'll recover. Slow and steady is the key.

    EDITED TO ADD: The recovery is not painless, but it IS manageable. Most important of all though is that it is FINITE.

    Best of luck to you, Reniram
  17. Had a complete tear to my right rotator cuff. MRI showed 27mm tear. Went in for arthroscopic surgery, doc got in there and found a full lear, plus a torn labrum. He had to go in the old fashioned way to repair the damage, plus had to resect the biceps tendon. Surgery was 4 years ago and I still have range of motion and pain issues.

    Get the MRI, at least you'll know what you're dealing with. My guess in mine tore the rest of the way at some point after the MRI. If you can get away with just PT you'll be a lot better off. The pain after the surgery in pretty bad, and the rehab is also pretty miserable.
  18. Have one in each shoulder. Did the left about 14 years ago and the right 10. Opted out of surgery after talking to a few that had it and being told it's a waste of time. Did some PT and put up with the pain for a few weeks. One doctor was correct that it gets better with time as other muscles compensate for the injury. Every now and then I'll do something that reminds me it's still there.
  19. Both. Surgery on both. Probably the most pain I have ever experienced. In my case I feel it every day. Realize that it is never the same as before. I doubt rehab will work if it is really torn.
  20. I slipped on some ice and fell on my right shoulder. Doc couldn't sow them back together, wouldn't stretch enough. Did the PT ,helped some but after 4 years there is still some pain and motion is limited. Won't be pitching for the Yankees any time soon.
  21. Oh yeah, I've been there (2 surgeries).

    The shoulder joint itself is not a per se ball-and-socket joint. IMHO, beside the elbows and ankles, the shoulders are the most complex joints. The rotatory cuff tendons keep the humerus correctly aligned with the scapula. The muscles connected to those tendons need to be CORRECTLY worked-out daily in order to keep that joint safe. Rehabilitation attempts before surgery is the call 95% of the time. Until you have one or both, do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT move your arm/shoulder around trying to "find the pain." Doing so can aggravate and worsen the injurie(s) to the tendons/muscles.

    I had two surgeries mostly due to my insurance company not ponying up for a quality MRI at first. (Yes, I was surprised to find out there are different levels of MRI's and these are based on the price paid.) Besides the low quality MRI, which had the first surgeon short on time allotted for fixing all the he found was wrong once inside, he then decided to only fix what he knew was wrong FROM THE MRI in order, I think, to avoid liability from me or the insurance company.

    If you go the surgery route, tell your doctor and the radiologist to do the best MRI possible.

    Good luck.

  22. Both my shoulders have been redone. The recovery time for the second one was far better because I started working it earlier than the surgeon suggested. Nothing insane just normal movements. Both surgeries were worth it to me and within a year I had all of my strength back.
  23. I tore both of my rotator cuffs in '83/84 while in Germany... both skiing... one on a high icy mountain in Austria and the other near the bottom of the hill on my last run in the Black Forest... caught an outside edge, and boom down before I knew what happened.
    I never had any surgery but went to the doctors over there and after I got back. I've been going to physical therapy when it gets to hurting and I tend to not use an arm too much. I don't want things to atrophy, so I keep active and I've been exercising the last two years to build up my muscles and strength, especially in those areas.
    I've never stuck with the exercises shown me by the therapists, but now I do my own with pushups and 10-lb dumbbells.
    There's a retaining wall about 5 feet high on the south side of my lot and I used to just hop up a bit put my arms down on the top of it and push myself up. Well about 2 years ago I went to do that and just about did a face plant on the top of the cinder block and cement wall... twice!
    I decided then to do something about that with exercise including pushups and all kinds of leg lifts and some floor stretching. Later I added dumbbells and worked up to 10 pounds with lots of arm and chest-strengthening exercises. Along with the stretches before my treadmill use, I added a bunch of others, including kicks and punches. I even bought a 15-lb purse-type weight to strengthen my body for bowling. Two years ago last Thanksgiving I pulled a hamstring in my left leg during the start of the second game and had to stop.
    I want to try bowling again some day as I had kind of given it up because of my torn shoulders.
    I'm going to be 74 in June and I want to stay in shape and be able to defend myself, too, so I do practice kicks and punches and am pretty agile for 73+.
    When you get "rehabilitated" enough to start some kind of exercise program, keep it up and strengthen the muscles in the shoulder areas.
    I didn't care for the exercises the PT gave me to do with rubber strips and doors, but I'm doing well with my chosen regimen every other day with usually 4 miles on the treadmill while watching streamed TV. I thrown in 1-1.5 minutes at 6mph, but walk at 4mph except for cool down.
    Other than exercise at PT and a lot of MRI's over the years, the most treatment ever offered was by one Navy doctor to trim some of the sharper bits, but I never had anything done.
    I discovered after the injuries that poling while skiing caused "discomfort" and water-skiing-type activity could be painful, too. Also improper... dead-weight hangs from a pull-up bar weren't good ideas, either. :D
    After PT or whatever you get done, develop an exercise program that you can keep up and stick with it.
    When I do my stretches and pushups, I start in bed after Wifey gets up. My shoulders crunch a bit, but no real pain.
    Good luck with your rehab and treatment.
  24. Get an MRI! Without it you just don't know, and depending on what they find, inaction can mean the difference between being crippled and getting back to semi normal. I tore mine on the 4th of July, was prescribed some steroids for the inflammation, and it felt better, so the wife and I climbed on our Goldwing and rode about 3500 miles over 2 weeks. When I got back, it was hurting again, to the point I was having trouble sleeping. Went back in, more steroids, and an MRI. Of 4 main tendons that make your shoulder do what it does, I tore 3, badly. The doctor told me if we (I) had waited another few weeks, it would have been unrepairable. I got lucky. I had the surgery, still in physical therapy, but the strength is coming back, and the range of motion is improving every week. If you're looking at surgery, research the doctors in your area. Mine has the bedside manner of a toad, but is absolutely brilliant as a surgeon, and anyone who has used him will say the same thing. You want great, not nice, although both would be awesome. Good luck.
  25. I had my right shoulder surgically repaired in my early 60s. My surgeon specialized in sports medicine and was once a team Doctor with one of the NFL teams, early in his career...I felt pretty lucky about that. Pain was minimal and I had twelve sessions of therapy. My secret was that I did a lot of Glock .40 cal. shooting in the weeks after surgery...kind of kept things loose in my shoulder ;-) After the fact, I asked the Doctor if it was OK to shoot handguns again, and he said give it about 6 months to heal. I guess shooting wasn't the brightest idea, but I had no problems from it, and my shoulder now works like it is supposed to.
  26. Tore a labrum in my shoulder some years back, Dr wanted to fix it but I declined and just rehabbed it myself and after a year it was fine. Now earlier this year I started having range of motion issues that continued to get worse and Dr diagnosed it as a frozen shoulder and said the likely cause was not fixing the first tear. I’m learning to live with the ROM issues but it just hurts really bad at night and affects getting any rest at all. Life sux after 50.
  27. Take L-Glutamine. I tore mine a few years ago and I healed up after about a month. I was told that hospitals give it to burn patients to help accelerate healing. :dunno:
  28. There are surgeons and there are surgeons. My wife got run over by a horse, actually hit by a horse and tossed several feet in the air. Fractured humerus, completely torn rotator cuff, and most muscle anchors avulsed.. Two plates 13 screws and a lot of PT and she is about 95% on ROM and 80+ on strength. She was fortunate enough to get orthopod who had trained in East Germany and as a result of cultural deprivation they had developed some very skilled surgeons. Wish some of our homegrown had similar training.
  29. I injured my rotator cuffs in both arm last July while weight lifting. No tears but extremely painful for about 6 months. PT helped get me back and I've been lifting again (light weights, nothing over my head) since just before Christmas. Only occasionally keeps me up at night.
  30. Have had both of my shoulders done over the past two years. As others have said, find a good surgeon that will do only what he needs to and everything he should do while in there.

    First was circumferential labrum tear (read detached all around) and rotator cuff torn in two places. That one was a ***** for the first 9 weeks. Arm strapped to my side, sleeping on my back only, passive Pt only, etc.. but got better quickly after I could start doing active PT with resistance. Was back in the gym doing pull ups by month 5 and using ~90% of pre surgery weight by the 9 month mark. Had a number of bone spurs that he took down - probably the most painful part of the recovery - bone takes a while to heal.

    Second shoulder was a cake walk. This was was torn rotator cuff in two spots as well - likely caused by the over use and similar bone work as the opposite shoulder. Doc thought that the spurs were causing impingement and “rubbing” holes or abrading the cuff making it more likely to tear. Was doing resistance work within 4 weeks and back to ~90% of pre surgery weights in the gym by month 5....much faster recovery without the labrum.

    As others have said, do the PT religiously. Every set, every rep, every day...makes a world of difference. Stretching PT is just as important as resistance - maybe more so to get range of motion back. Don’t be afraid of the surgery - sure it’s difficult but nothing a normal person can’t get through and when done you’ll be glad you did it. 6 months of difficulty or a lifetime of limited capability, poor range of motion or loss of ability to do the things you love.

    One final comment is that the longer you wait the more difficult recovery becomes due to additional damage you may cause over time and your ability to recover the older you get.
  31. Sister did this, didn't take care of it, and ended up with a "frozen shoulder". Had to go in for surgery to fix it, the frozen shoulder, and then the dreaded rehab.
    Take care of it as quickly as you can.
  32. I had surgery a few years back. The PT will be brutal but necessary.
  33. I use a lot of supplements that supposedly help with joints... pharmaceutical grade Youtheory Turmeric with black pepper extract and the Osteo Bi-Flex glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM complex with other stuff and Hyaluronic Acid.
    My shoulders don't bother me in sleeping, unless I try to "hug" the pillow. I usually sleep on my back or my side... stomach not so much.
    I wear a splint on my right wrist for carpal tunnel. The left was "released back in 1990, but never got the right one done. I can't imagine using my left hand for everything!
  34. Thanks for all the thoughts. Seems this isn't uncommon at all. Nearly three weeks in the pain and range of motion are much better, but nowhere near normal. Time to quit being a hero and see a doctor.
  35. I started having left shoulder problems in 2017 - impingement syndrome - couldn't lift my upper arm away my chest (abduction). I never had any trauma to my left shoulder. So I stopped doing overhead presses and seated fly exercises. (i've never been a big weightlifter, just 10-12 reps with fairly light weights). I did 8 visits of PT in 2017 and did home exercises. Then in 2018 started getting weakness and couldn't do pushups or keep my left arm out straight from my body for over 30 seconds. I had a couple biceps injections that gave temporary relief. Over the past couple of months the weaknesses got much worse and the joint became more stiff.

    Got an MRI in late December that showed big bone spurs under the distal clavicle and acromion, a big tear in the supraspinatus, and damage to one of the biceps tendons. Had surgery on January 20 and will be in a sling until March 4 when the rehab will begin. The intraoperative pics showed the big supraspinatus tear and the biceps tendon looked like the end of a mop, so the surgeon cut it and reattached it to the humerous. On the good side the pics showed that the head of the humerus and the labrum were in good shape without cracks, divots, or bone spurs.

    Maybe I should have gone to the doc and got a x-ray when the impingement syndrome started as those bone spurs may have irritated the rotator cuff. Anyway, I wear my sling at the gym and ride the exercise bike and get sympathy and encouragement from those who have had shoulder surgery before. My wife is a nurse, takes good care of me, and keeps a close eye on me and my shoulder.

    My advise is to get medical attention, get the x-rays or MRI needed to obtain a diagnosis. and then get started with physical therapy or surgery. Good luck in your recovery.
  36. Slight tear left rotator cuff Jan, 2019 falling skiing. MRI confirmed a 5 mm tear, not all the way through. Was very painful range of motion overhead or behind my back like reaching for seatbelt, long sleeve shirt behind my back, reaching overhead ie. daily activities.

    Let it go to see if would recuperate. By spring, I went to PT. Had to get a shot midway through the course of PT treatment to be able to complete the therapy. Modest improvement during PT.

    I am not too sensitive to pain. But by summer I thought I am going to have to have surgery ... can't accept the limitations and pain that I had. I did not have surgery.

    Over longer time, doing the PT exercises and other weights at the gym, I gradually got stronger and pain went away. So it took more than 9 months for most of the improvement.

    Now at 12+ months, I have ~ 95+% range of motion with an infrequent minor twinge in some positions like arms directly over head or reaching behind my back. I am careful but don't baby it.

    Only exercise I used to do and now skip at the gym are the military (overhead) shoulder presses. I never did high weights but I backed weight off a little and do more reps. Good luck OP!
  37. I wonder if stem cell therapy would help?
  38. Nine month update: no surgery after consulting with my doctor who recommended I continue the stretching regimen I had started. The improvement has been slow, but steady to the point where my shoulder is at 85 percent normal. To say I'm happy is the understatement of the year. Thanks to all who replied to this thread with suggestions and comments. It means a lot to me.:cheers:
  39. Tore mine 4 years ago, riding a dirt bike in the desert. Age doesn't necessarily come with wisdom.

    Never had the surgery and I am mostly recovered. There are certain moves that remind me (rolling over to smack the alarm clock is the one that always gets my attention). I tend to support with my off-hand if required to reach across my body with my left arm. I am not even vaguely tempted to have a doc do anything to it now.
  40. Never considered that might be a possibility. How would you go about getting stem cells?
  41. They did stem cell therapy on my knee. They micro-fracture the head of the bone that goes into the joint by drilling small holes into it. It allows the stem cells to leak from the holes and if everything works, grows and recreates a barrier on the joint.

    It works best the younger people up to mid 30s. I was mid 50s when they attempted mine and it failed.
  42. tore mine 4 years ago. Doctors couldn't do surgery because it was torn too much and couldn't stretch the ligaments far enough to stich back together. I was 65 when I did it. had to go through PT. It was a *****, hurt like you wouldn't believe. Still don't have much motion in my right arm. GET THE SURGERY.
  43. I had surgery an bye the time I had it an recoved it took 14 months. I ended up with frozen shoulder. I lost a lot of movement/strength after surgery wouldnt do it again. Think my other shoulder is giving me problems now also. My surgery was originally for bone spurs and arthritis an found the tear while taking care of those.
  44. I didn't tear mine, i destroyed it. Three surgeries later, i still don't have full movement.
  45. I had rotator cuff surgery 11 years ago. Mine was a bad tear. Surgery fixed it, but it was a long road to recover. Do what the PT folks say. I wore that sling for 6 weeks. I am fine now, just have to be careful doing some things. Good luck and let us know how it goes.
  46. Both mine are torn, I just suck it up, live with a little pain. Secret the surgeons do not want to tell is sometimes over time they self heal. PT is the way to go, surgury is NO GUARANTEE of nothing but the doctor doing the procedure paying for his or her high dollar car.
  47. Mine healed on its own. I still get twinges, but I have a full range of motion.

  48. Sometimes they heal, but it's like have Cataracks, if you go to the grave with em you have cheated some eye surgon out of fees.

    I have minor Cataracks, do not interfear with me seeing. I know what I have, I do not know what I will have if some great person with M.D., following their name screws up on me.

    Being blind is no big deal unless it is me being blind. Hope you get my point.
  49. I've had both. Still feel it like a tight squeeze on both but no real pain. Had mine done by the surgeons that treat Duke athletes. They said both were as bad as they had seen. I know it hurt like hell for a long time.