View Full Version : Rotator Cuff Tears After Surgery ?

09-18-2006, 12:09 AM
Does anyone remember before BT1 went down that we were discussing that many of us seemed to be having shoulder problems? I recently had an MRI done of the right shoulder. I have a rotator cuff tear and need surgery. I saw a surgeon last week and he seems certain that there is a tear in the left shoulder as well. I recently had a steriod shot into both shoulders for pain. I have developed arthritis in the AC joint as well in the shoulder, but feel maybe it is the log rolls that create these tears after the surgery. How many here find they are having problems after surgery with shoulders? Just curious!

09-18-2006, 09:07 AM
Hi Gloria. I had both rotator cuffs torn after surgery. I also had shots in both shoulders. My left healed with out surgery. My right had to be repaired surgically. It was the most painful of all of my surgeries. Despite going to therapy 3 times a week and struggling with exercises, my shoulder was frozen and had to be released again by surgery. I don't know if this could be related also, but I had the ulnar nerve in my left arm repositioned and also carpal tunnel release in my left hand. Try to avoid shoulder surgery if you can-it is almost unbearable.-Linda

09-18-2006, 12:08 PM
I am so glad I canceled my surgery! I was all set to go then backed out. I wouldn't have been able to even unlock my front door while rehabing, due to positioning. My hand/arm is already weak from nerve damage, add surgery to it and I would have jumped off a bridge.

I started taking some anti-inflammatories, not the cox-2 things, and it really helped with the pain so I vetoed the surgery since that was the main reason I was doing it.

I'm sure some day I will have to have it done, but I'm in no hurry. Mines a full tear too! Yikes.................


09-18-2006, 12:08 PM

Thanks for the reply...I thought there was discussion about this...I was told that there is no way the rotator cuff will repair itself, that new literature proves this out and they want me to allow them to do surgery. They told me where my tear is that it will not heal that with PT the tear will only get worse and scar tissue will form and I will be living with pain forever. I cannot determine if they are trying to scare me or telling me the truth. I have been to two docs and two have told me the same thing. I am making a call after noon to a third for yet a third opinion....I have had two shots into the right shoulder and it has helped with that one and one into the left and that shoulder is doing much better. Truthfully, unless the pain comes back, I am not going for the surgery...My body cannot take any more pain, but the shoulders were so painful I was ready to rip my head off too...It was getting the shots that helped with that pain....


09-18-2006, 01:40 PM
Gloria, I do not believe a Rotator Cuff tear can totally heal. I had a partial tear in mine from a fall I had back in 1995. The Orthopedic Surgeon I saw said he would rather treat the tear conservatively and with PT. Well, I did that and it still took almost a year until I could raise my arm above my shoulder height without pain.

In 2002 or so the pain in that shoulder was going from being a nagging pain to one that would keep me awake at night. I put up with the pain for another year or so, prioritizing getting Open Release Surgery done on my Carpal Tunnel on the right hand first. Finally in late 2003 the pain was so bad I finally went back to the Orthopedic Surgeon, (same one) and he wanted to operate, but I hesitated and got cortisone shots, which only helped for a very short period, after my second one I agreed to the operation.
My MRI showed I still had the same tear from 1995!! But most of my pain was now a large bone spur.
The operation went well, only three small holes in my shoulder, the Doctor "shaved" the tear away and ground out the bone spur. That was in early summer of 2004 and I am doing fine with that shoulder now over two years later.
I would recommend getting the tear repaired, regardless of if it is arthroscopic or they have to open the shoulder up for repair.


09-18-2006, 04:05 PM
Hi Gloria. I had 2 surgeries in February, and I have a rotator cuff tear in my right shoulder. I don't know about the left, I have no pain there as of yet. I see the doctor next Monday to find out what my options are. From my research, they will do injections, PT and then surgery. For a tear, I think the only thing that truly helps is surgery. But, based on my last experience under the big lights, I'll wait until my arm is about to fall off LOL. Could it be that they move us around like sides of beef? Ai yi yi....


09-19-2006, 10:07 AM

I am wondering too if they move us around like sides of beef...I have been reading and rereading my operative reports this week while trying to organize things. I think the first thing they do in securing our bodies to the operating table is tape our shoulders to a board of some sort. If they do that and they are twisting our bodies, I am wondering if they are not twisting and pulling on that area while it is secured...I am certain things must happen that we are not aware of when we are out too...They certainly do not do it on purpose, but it just happens ....Don't you wonder too how you get back into that bed when it is all over? I always ask them that and they just smile...but how the heck do you get back into that bed? I know for cetain I scooted over onto a hospital table and I wake up in a bed so there must be a lot of tugging and pulling on our arms...I often have bruises on my ankles and arms...


I have seen two upper extremity specialists now and both told me that the literature and studies show that the shoulder tear will not heal and will only get worse. They feel if I wait,I may make things worse so the sooner they get in there to fix it, the better. They were honest in that it is a brutal recovery and PT is not easy, but they feel I need to have it done so I think I am going to bite the bullet and have it done. I do not know though if I should have my thumb done first...My thumb and wrist are making my life more unbearable now. The steroid shots no longer work in that area, but the steroid shots did work for the shoulder, though the right needed two shots almost one right after the other.

The shoulders were so painful I hated to move in the morning and was having trouble with doing my hair, make-up, dressing, opening doors, just moving in general. I actually started to cry to my PM doc about the pain and he hates crying. They made me go to the trouble though of cervical MRI's first, thinking it was cervical in nature. There are changes there so it was good to look there, but I knew it was shoulder. I do not know why they do not trust us to know our own bodies.

I have put off my PT for the lumbar spine thinking I could combine the PT for the shoulder and spine at the same time, but I am thinking I will do aquatics for the lumbar spine and save what PT I have now for the hand and shoulder...What a pain! I am told if scar tissue develops it is the worst pain ever to live with and they will not operate on scar tissue and old tears. The specialist I saw in Philadelphia wanted to know if it was a fresh tear or an old tear...I have to think this might have been from surgery...or they way we log roll to move and get up...

09-19-2006, 12:22 PM
Hey Gloria,

I just wanted to satisfy your curiosity as to how you are moved when you're out cold after surgery. There are a few ways to move patients, but most often in the OR/Recovery area they use two items, a draw sheet and a slide board. sliding boards - a smooth board with tapered ends made of either wood or plastic that is used to help someone get from one sitting surface to another. draw/lift sheets - a regular flat sheet placed under a person in bed can be used to move them. If the sheet is strong enough it can also be used to lift and transfer the patient. If you'd like, I can walk you through the process step by step, but just so you know, no one is tugging on your arms (or they shouldn't be) to move you (they're placed across your chest to prevent them from being smooshed).

In some cases, specialized equipment is used to move morbidly obese patients. 'Hoyer' lifts - a hydraulic lift that consists of a metal frame and a heavy canvas swing. It is capable of lifting and suspending a patient for transfer. This device is used to prevent injury to the patient and staff.

Hope this helps some. I would imagine shoulder injuries would be more likely in cases where the arms are held in surgical slings (such as during C-spine surgery), but are probably not a super common occurence.


09-19-2006, 12:47 PM
Gloria, just remember that my tear was a 8+ year old tear, I think that qualifies as an "old tear". But, even though mine was shaved off for the "fix", the Surgeon was prepared to open up my shoulder to surgically repair the tear if necessary, but I guess since it was just the old tear there he decided to shave and clean up the area instead. Lucky for me, since my shoulder was marked out for cutting open and that would have been a 6 month to a year recovery, whereas the arthroscopic surgery was 2 months more or less to basically a full recovery....


09-19-2006, 06:23 PM

You are right....now I remember when I had my discogram they told me not to move they would do all the work....They used some sort of a board and just slid me right onto the bed. That is the only time I ever remember being brought back from surgery though...and I did have to cross my arms one over the other....I am certain they are very careful with us...I think we probably do more harm to our bodies with the log rolls and pulling ourselves up from the bed.

I woke up from sinus surgery sitting up in a chair in the recovery room. I have to say that was really weird...

In truth, I think I probably hurt my shoulders carrying bookbags with papers and books from teaching...and then the constant writing on the chalk boards. My daughter told me her science teacher was just talking about his shoulder surgery in class the other day. Everyone has this preconceived notion that teaching is such an easy job...We sit all day and only work from nine to three...summers off...When in truth, it is a very stressful, taxing job, that is probably responsible for most of my health problems. I taught next to the music room for two years. It was insulated with friable Asbestos. I have pictures of it and called OSHA or the kids would still be breathing it in...The kids would pick it up and throw it at each other...I worry most about that...

09-19-2006, 07:06 PM
No shoulder problems here and its more then 3 months post op!!

Just Jacquie
09-21-2006, 09:28 AM
Hi Gloria! Glad that we're starting to re-gather some of the 'old gang'! I am haviing awful shoulder/arm problems oon my right side, and using the computer as much as I do at work isn't helping! I had a torn rotator cuff, rt shoulder, after my MVA in '99 that started this whole mess that I'm in w/ my spine. I had gotten a steroid shot, and then I had done some PT, and brought the arm basically back to normal - my ROM had been AWFUL beforehand. (no pun intended!) Anyhow, that was iin '99, and now my rt shoulder is acting up again - I also have carpal tunnel in right hand. I just don't know where I'm going with this, but I just thought I'd throw my hat into the ring, so to speak!

Linda, good to see you here, too - it's weird missing folks that you never met! Have I got a load of news to tell you all - I will probably post a 'what's been goin' on thread from home sometime (and hurt my arm some more :rolleyes:) Back to the salt mines - TTYL!!

Hugs, Jacquie :)

09-21-2006, 11:30 AM
Hi Jacquie, it is ever so nice to see all the names that are popping up on this BT2 forum. I feel so at HOME here and now more and more folks are finding their way here!
My pain is NOT any better so I will be popping around some myself. I just don't post much on the CP forum, due to my pain being so small compared to MANY here on this forum. Of course pain is pain so we all need each other for support and sometimes just (((((((BIG OLE HUGS)))))))))) Gaye :)

09-21-2006, 12:30 PM
Hi Jacquie and Slogo,

Yes, it is weird to miss people you have not met...but know the names...some not even a real name...an acronym or a nickname..or whatever we have chosen for ourselves...It is nice to see us all finding our way back! ....:D

09-22-2006, 10:18 AM
No rotator cuff damage here but after surgery I had tennis elbow in both elbows. I contribute this to the strapping down. They were supposed to do it while I was still awake but knocked me out so fast I had no idea what happened. After six to eight months the pain in my arms finally subsided.

05-25-2007, 11:19 AM
I'm out of the habit of checking this site since the crash. I participated in this discussion before.

Two months after decompression (without fusion) of C4-5, 5-6, 6-7 on the left only, I began to have weakness and spasm in my neck and shouiders. Then I began to have pain around my right collarbone, followed by searing pain in my right shoulder, atrophy of that area, and nerve pain in my right arm.

It got so bad that eventually I could not lift my arm. An MRI showed extensive shoulder damage. Therapy for my shoulder didn't help and caused severe nerve pain throughout my upper body. My shoulder surgeon declined to do surgery, saying this could not all be coming from my shoulder.

During this past year, my entire upper body atrophied. My skin sways around my withered arms; I'm unable to do any arm exercise. I have asked one doctor after another what caused this atrophy, and have never had an answer.

It's been a year since the rotator cuff tear and shoulder damage were diganosed. I've been to something like 6 or 7 doctors, mostly surgeons.

Some say the problem is my spine, that my spine shifted after surgery, putting pressure on C6-7 on the right; and what I have now is cervical radiculopathy. Some say the problem is entirely in my shoulder.

The doctor who strikes me as being the most honest, a rehab doctor, says there's no way to say for sure what precipitated the shoulder damage, but he suspects the problem is in both my spine AND my shoulder.

NO doctor has been willing to do surgery since there's no consensus on what the problem is, so I've been left like this: in constant pain, becoming more and more disabled.

Does anyone have any light to shed on any of this? :eek:

06-14-2007, 09:02 PM
Not long after my surgery I developed tennis elbow in both arms. I am convinced this was from the surgery strapping they use to keep you still. I was supposed to have it done before I was under but no way...I went fast.