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Surgery For My Shoulder

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I saw my orthopedist yesterday for a follow-up on the MRI that I had 2 weeks ago. I actually received the report and the CD of the actual MRI last Saturday but I wasn't clear as to what the actual diagnosis would be. There was a lot of medical terminology in the report and I was able to do some research on my own so I could ask appropriate questions yesterday. Keep in mind that researching on the internet can only take you so far without knowing what certain combinations of conditions create.

I had two doctors working with me yesterday. One doctor was a sports injury specialist and trouble shooter for difficult cases (like mine) and the other doctor was a shoulder specialist. I started out with the shoulder specialist and ended up with both doctors in the room with me. It was really interesting to see the way they looked at my MRI and to hear their subsequent discussion. Much of the discussion was way over my head and the shoulder specialist apologized for excluding me and talking in a way that I couldn't understand. The result was that they gave me 2 choices for possible treatment.

The first choice was another steroid shot under the AC joint. The second choice was surgery. Thank goodness I had done some research!!! I asked if the AC joint had grown a hook on the end. The answer was yes and there was also a bone spur. My research told me that once the AC joint grows a hook on the end, the space under it is compromised and narrowed. This causes the bone to rub and tear the rotator cuff which is located under the AC joint. (This is the simplified version of a long explanation) My question to the doctors was, that if we inject under the AC joint, will the space get bigger and prevent further tears to the rotator cuff. The answer was no. I then commented that if it won't make the space bigger, and the compromised, narrowed space was damaging the rotator, what would be the purpose of having the shot. The doctors said that it might reduce the pain. I asked if the shot would dissolve the bone spur and they both said no. Then I said that the problem could only be fixed with surgery. The problem shooter doctor replied, "You are correct, but sometimes people want a non invasive solution." The shoulder specialist said, "In this case, I think a shot wouldn't work and she would be right back in this office within 2 weeks with the same issue."

I made the decision then and there, to have the surgery. Then the two of them dropped the bomb. Since I have a small tear in the rotator and they saw a shadow in another area that could be an additional issue, I may require a more complex surgery. The doctors did some strength testing and some additional poking and prodding. They were surprised at how strong my arm is despite the injury. They determined that the shoulder hadn't frozen at all yet. This is thanks to my wonderful physical therapist who refused to give up on me despite the pain that keeping the joint from freezing brought me.

The final plan is to start with arthroscopic surgery. They will shave the hook off the AC joint, remove the bone spur and arthritis, enlarge the space under the AC joint and examine the damage to the rotator cuff. If the examination shows any issues that need to be fixed, they will do regular rotator cuff surgery.

The arthroscopic surgery will keep me on the sidelines for 6-8 weeks - allowing time for the bone in the AC joint to heal. If they have to do regular rotator cuff surgery in addition to the AC joint repair, the recuperation time is about 6 months. Of that six months, approximately 6 weeks will be with my arm tied to my side to prevent any movement in the shoulder while it is healing.

I was thankful that my doctors were very frank with me. I know that it may be a painful recovery but at least they will fix the problem and stop the pain. (It has taken over 4 years to get a complete diagnosis to multiple part problems.) I am thankful that my neurosurgeon is working with my orthopedists to finally get me fixed. My surgery is scheduled for March 12. To all of my Spark friends, please understand that I will not be very active on SP for a while after my surgery. I will miss everyone and will be back as soon as I can.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    It sounds like you're in very capable hands! Sending positive vibes your way that all turns out well w/the surgery & recovery!!!
    1776 days ago
    As usual, you have been a good medical consumer and one smart cookie!! Glad you did all the research and were prepared to make the right decision. Best wishes on a good outcome and fast recovery. Glad you'll be at the SP team dinner. Let me know if there is anything special you want me to do to cover our team -- or anything special I can do for you personally. I usually have a day off in the middle of the week now if you need errands run or anything. Wishing you well, Marsha
    1783 days ago
    1784 days ago
    Wishes for a speedy recovery!
    1784 days ago
    Read your update. Good luck! Living a healthy lifestyle is beneficial in so many ways and you just captured one of them. Being able to assimilate a lot of information and knowing how your body works so that you can make the best decision for you is one of them. Good luck. Keep us posted on your progress. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers as you navigate this!
    1784 days ago
  • L*I*T*A*
    praying all goes well with your up and coming surgery.......
    may your recovery be uneventful...
    blessings and hugs......lita

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1784 days ago
    I had a fall and tore a rotator cuff several years ago. I had surgery to repair it and they also took off some arthritic deposits at the same time. It was all able to be done with a scope and I had 4 small incisions about half an inch long. I was able to go home that same day. Recovery was about 6 to 8 weeks although the first few were a bit limiting because it was painful to move that arm. Physical therapy worked miracles though. I will say I can can tell when the weather is going to change since that shoulder aches a bit! It was well worth going through the surgery since I was having trouble sleeping and I couldn't raise my arm over my head before that. Good luck.
    1784 days ago
    So glad you did the research. I hear those shots hurt and as it wouldn't help, what's the use wasting time. They did those shots in my spine twice once going through the tiny hole in the tail bone. They didn't work and had I waited longer to see a back surgeon, I would have been in a wheel chair.
    1784 days ago
    Hope your surgery goes well and the same for the recovery!!
    1784 days ago
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