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kmoehumphreys
January 30th, 2013, 10:52 PM
I am interested in hearing any stories or advice from people who have undergone supraspinatus tear repair. I recently suffered a 1 cm "clean tear" during an incident when I was tumbled by a rogue wave down a lava wall. The good news is I survived with no neck or head injuries, only abrasions and - the bad news - a messed up shoulder, which will require surgical repair "sooner rather than later".

I know the recovery from this is slow but can be successful. So while I am very sad I will miss several months of swimming, I am optimistic about getting back to it this summer.

Any tips? what questions should I ask the surgeon?
Thanks, Karen

gobears
January 31st, 2013, 07:26 AM
That stinks, Karen. Sounds like a very adventurous accident - glad you're ok. Hope you get some good answers and that your recovery is speedy. My dad tore his rotator cuff playing tennis a couple years ago (he's 84 now) and he's back to playing tennis now. I'll ask if he has any thoughts for you.

sunruh
January 31st, 2013, 08:41 AM
Any tips? what questions should I ask the surgeon?
Thanks, Karen

sorry to hear this.

ask how many holes will they open?

will they provide (rent or buy) a polartech ice pump unit for your shoulder?

how long will you be immobile?

what dates can you expect to start using it?

who will be your rehab center?

what is their stance on rebuilding scapula control (not strength, but control) ?

paper or plastic? :D

steve

p.s. if done very soon you could be ready for MVN nats.

kmoehumphreys
January 31st, 2013, 12:01 PM
Thanks for the questions, Steve.
And yes Amy, there is quite a story. Not exactly how I had planned to celebrate 60.

matysekj
January 31st, 2013, 01:06 PM
Sorry to hear about your injury, Karen. I'm currently just shy of 6 months post-surgery for a supraspinatus tear and repair. I'll try to give you a few quick things here, but feel free to PM or email me any other questions you may have about the experience.

In general, plan on it taking 9-12 months to get back to normal. At 6 months I am NOT ready to enter a meet yet. I had originally hoped to compete in a meet next weekend, but that ain't happening.

Also, lots of people have had shoulder surgery, but different types of surgeries have different recovery times. I saw a guy at convention last year when I was 5 weeks post-surgical and still in a sling. He said he was 8 weeks post-surgical for rotator cuff surgery. He was not only out of the sling, but was swimming several thousand yards in the morning workouts. There was no way I could imagine swimming anywhere near that point. When I saw my doctor a week later, I asked him about this. He said "I guarantee you that guy didn't have the full repair that you had". He said he probably had rotator cuff surgery where they just did a debridement, maybe taking care of some minor fraying and bone spurs, but there's no way he had the full repair where they drill anchors into the bone and sew up a torn tendon. If he did, then his doctor letting him swim at that point would be malpractice. So don't trust what others may tell you about how long their recovery took.

One thing I can recommend is that before the surgery, try daily activities with the surgical arm at your side. My surgery was on my "off" arm, which makes it easier, but still wash your hair with one arm, try to dry yourself off with a towel using one arm (this is pretty difficult), brush your teeth with the other hand, try to use buttons and zippers with one hand or tie your shoes with one hand, etc. Try to get used to these things before your arm hurts like ***.

My schedule included:

- Immobilization in a sling for 6 weeks. The first or second day after surgery a home health care person came over and showed me how to take it out of the sling once or twice a day and do some simple hanging arm circles and hand exercises. Even simple movements like this H U R T like crazy at first.

- I slept in a recliner for the first week or so, then moved the recliner into the bedroom and moved back and forth from the bed to the recliner for another 2 weeks or so, depending on how much time I could stand laying down in bed. There's no way you can lie flat at first.

- I started walking for activity 2 weeks after the surgery. It still hurt, and walking around with the sling tended to hurt my back, but I needed to do something.

- I didn't get one of those ice water sleeve/pump systems, but I would have killed for one if it was available. Ice is your friend.

- The sling came off at 6 weeks. For weeks 7-12 I still was not allowed to raise the arm above 90 degrees or lift more than 5 lbs with it. Starting at 6 weeks I got into the pool and did a little bit of kicking with the arm held at my side. That took a while to get used to doing. I also did my arm exercises in the water (preferrably a hot tub) where gravity is less of an issue.

- I've done PT from 3-6 months out, starting out 3x / week and working down to 1x / week. I graduate next week, but still need to do the exercises on my own. The stretching they do in the early days is painful, but it gradually gets better. I have pretty much full range of motion now, but it does still hurt at the extremes.

- At this point I'm doing around 2500-3000 in the pool when I go (used to do 4-5K per workout). I'm limiting myself to no more than 1500 or so freestyle per session and the rest is either kicking, breaststroke or sculling drills. I did get some tendonitis in the supraspinatus a few weeks ago when I went 1500 or so every day for 4 days in a row - that was apparently too much back then. I'm just now starting to swim again after a week and a half off to let that calm down. Oddly, just before stopping swimming it seemed that breaststroke was also a leading cause of the tendonitis along with the freestyle. As I tried to swim it a little faster, the shoulder would hurt a lot at the start of the breast pull.

- I'm planning to swim at nationals in Indy in May, which will be at the 9 month point. I'm not sure if I'll be able to do any IM events there though - may have to stick with breast and free, and don't expect to swim well. At this point I can't even imagine swimming butterfly, so we'll have to see when that desire comes back to fill up the IM. I can do some easy backstroke now, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Anna Lea just came back to my office and gave me your phone number, so I guess I'll be calling you soon to for more details.

One "good" thing about the surgery - you get cool pictures of the tear like the ones attached. They show the actual tear before and after the repair. Click on the pictures below to enlarge.

71057106

kmoehumphreys
January 31st, 2013, 02:31 PM
Great answers and advice. Thanks. The more I research this the more I come to understand why some people might choose to live with the disability rather than go through the surgery and long rehab. Since I hope to have 30+ years of activity ahead of me, I am working on getting my mind wrapped around the challenge ahead. I have always liked a good challenge, so we shall see.

Atlantic
January 31st, 2013, 02:47 PM
Hi Karen - glad you didn't hurt your neck or back. I am so sorry about your shoulder. The post from matysekj contains excellent advice. Early this spring I had a small labrum tear "cleaned up" and had removal of bone spurs, arthritis and scar tissue. I slept on our couch. I had my right shoulder repaired - so I slept on my left side while somewhat leaning towards the back of the couch. Have plenty of pillows to make you comfy. I was also offered the ice system at my Dr's but after shock of the sticker price of surgery - I was not interested in spending another $300. So, I went to my local mega sports store and purchased a sling designed to hold 2 gel ice packs to your shoulder. It was made out of a thick lycra and had Velcro to secure it in place. I purchased two more packs so I didn't have to wait for packs to freeze. I spent $20. It was great. Ice as much as possible and take your meds like clockwork. I am now doing 3000 yard workouts and playing it safe because I too want to go to Indy. :) Don't try to rush getting back into the water - take your time and heal well. Good luck to you - please PM me with any questions! Take care!

Karlene
January 31st, 2013, 03:31 PM
Hi Karen,
My surgery was 10 years ago and seems similar to Jim's. I had one biodegradable screw and one permanent metal staple inserted. My surgery was in early Feb. 2003. All of Jim's points are well taken. Surgery was on my non-dominant arm and you can't lift anything heavier than a teacup. I was single at the time and figured out how to do all sorts of chores like taking taking out the trash or changing the cat's litter box by using my good arm, legs, and torso. You get very creative. DEFINITELY get the icing sleeve that wraps around your shoulder and attaches to an ice-filled cooler that pumps continuous cold water around the joint. It's worth whatever the cost may be. Started Codman pendulum exercises within a few days of the surgery and some other basic movements. Rehab will be painful. Mine was aggressive and I exceeded my surgeon's expectations on recovery time. Initially I walked briskly with arm in sling just to do something active. Back in the pool at about 6 weeks with arm at side doing kicking and one arm swimming. Eventually progressed to sidestroke and elementary backstroke. The first competitive stroke I could swim was breaststroke which is sort of a cruel joke when the evil stroke is by far your worst one. Next came backstroke. I did manage to swim at LC Nats six months post surgery. Only backstroke and my biggest fear was the crowds in the warmup pool banging into my arm. It was a small Nationals and I was fortunate to place 2nd, 4th, and 5th. By 10 months out I was swimming all four strokes and was faster. By the next year I was almost back to my previous speed.

Be forewarned that the MRI may not show full extent of your damage. Based on the MRI, my surgeon said the surgery would be about an hour and I'd be back to swimming in about 3-4 weeks. Once he scoped the shoulder and looked around, surgery took almost two hours and it was about 3-4 months before I was doing anything that resembled real swimming.

My surgery was when I aged up to 50 so we must be the same age. While it's a bummer to miss out on your age-up year, you can totally recover and swim almost as fast as before. I currently train about 4,000 meters five times per week and my surgical shoulder feels great (knock on wood). Good luck with your surgery and recovery.
Karlene

swimslick
January 31st, 2013, 03:41 PM
Just over 12 weeks out after surgical repair for a torn/avulsed labrum (Bankart tear). I started kicking just under 6 weeks out and still am today, but hopefully I get clearance for breaststroke next week. There is a meet in late April that my coach thinks that I'll be ready for (ie, perhaps a short breaststroke and/or free event) but I'm skeptical. If I am able to attend, it will be 24 weeks post-surgery.

Lots of good info above...my experience thus far is similar. It was hard to get answers for many questions I had before the surgery, because they couldn't really say what the full extent of the damage was without getting in there first. Luckily for me, my damage was also "clean" and fairly minimal (only needed 3 anchors, which is considered minimal for repairing an avulsion - but that is a lot more than just a clean-up). I'm not sure if a 1cm tear in the supraspintatus is considered minimal or severe (perhaps a good question to ask) - but that will likely affect your recovery time.

Since in recovery, I've found that getting my strength back as been easy compared to getting my range back. They tightened me up real good, but I'd say I'm at 70-80% range right now. I've actually been keeping a blog throughout the whole process, so if you want the full details feel free to check it out by clicking on my info.

I will also emphasize the icing component. I did have the pump system and was pretty much hooked up to it for 3 days straight after the surgery. I do believe it helped a LOT, but watch out for freezer burn! Also, get some new fins and a snorkel, and be prepared for your legs to be in pain ALL the time. :)

ALM
January 31st, 2013, 05:37 PM
Jim's surgeon, Dr. Derek Cuff (yes, that's his real name), did a study to test out two different theories regarding appropriate physical therapy during the first 12 weeks after surgery.

"Prospective randomized study of arthroscopic rotator cuff repair using an early versus delayed postoperative physical therapy protocol," by Derek J. Cuff, MD, and Derek R. Pupello, MBA

He gave me permission to post his paper, which appeared in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery, in our forums. It is attached to this post.

If I understood his explanation, the outcome of the study was that it is better not to do much physical therapy during the first 12 weeks post-op.

Anna Lea Matysek

ALM
January 31st, 2013, 10:57 PM
A couple more comments after reading Jim's full post above.

First, about the ice bag - we bought one at Walgreen's. It was worth the $12.00 or whatever it cost. It's much more durable than trying to use plastic bags. I think we bought the medium size and Jim wished that we had bought the larger size.

Also, I think that almost all of Jim's swimming yardage at this point is still with fins, so make sure you have a couple of pairs that you like.

Anna Lea

sunruh
February 1st, 2013, 12:36 PM
If I understood his explanation, the outcome of the study was that it is better not to do much physical therapy during the first 12 weeks post-op.

well i totally blew that!

SLAP tear surgery on 6/16
swimming with it on 8/12 granted slowly and using full fins
on 9/12 went from full fins to burners
10/18 got rid of the burners
raced on 11/20 and did 2 TopTenTimes in the 50 and 100 fly scm.
i think the results show me doing pretty well at the Clovis Nats :D

swimslick
February 1st, 2013, 02:00 PM
If I understood his explanation, the outcome of the study was that it is better not to do much physical therapy during the first 12 weeks post-op.

Anna Lea Matysek


I actually did a bit of research on this prior to surgery. What my brief meta-analysis found is that there isn't really a consensus on which is better: PT ASAP or PT later. A few studies found that patients who started PT ASAP generally felt better / returned to normal functioning life sooner, but it did not affect the long-term outcomes. That said, my doc wanted me to start PT within a week after surgery (which I did).

msgrupp
February 2nd, 2013, 10:50 PM
[QUOTE=matysekj;281464]Sorry to hear about your injury, Karen. I'm currently just shy of 6 months post-surgery for a supraspinatus tear and repair. I'll try to give you a few quick things here, but feel free to PM or email me any other questions you may have about the e

One thing I can recommend is that before the surgery, try daily activities with the surgical arm at your side. My surgery was on my "off" arm, which makes it easier, but still wash your hair with one arm, try to dry yourself off with a towel using one arm (this is pretty difficult), brush your teeth with the other hand, try to use buttons and zippers with one hand or tie your shoes with one hand, etc. Try to get used to these things before your arm hurts like ***.

I really agree with the suggestion of trying (before surgery) to do things with the uninjured arm. My best friend was an electric toothbrush. One suggestion--get a bunch of EXTRA LARGE t-shirts to wear while in the sling. You can fit the sling UNDER the t-shirt while still getting the good arm out. My sling itched like crazy and I had to wear a pillowcase (literally) between the skin on my back and the sling. Front closing bras are also a good suggestion.

Had 6 shoulder surgeries so well experienced. I have a slight rotator cuff tear in my non-dominant shoulder but the doctor feels I have too much motion to bother with it. Bothers me sometimes but not enough to want to do surgery.

Make SURE you get the cooling cuff (either cyro or some of the newer technology)--it will make all the difference in your healing and how you feel!!! One of the newer devices is called a Hyperice. Most insurance companies will cover the cost of the cooling unit if ordered by your surgeon (you come out of surgery already in one in many cases). If not--check in advance---I purchased a complete cryo-cuff for my knee for under $30. The day before the exact same model went for over $100 (missed out on that auction)---next day or two--got one for 1/3rd the price! Used but still cheaper than the co-pay and my doctor was unable to order one as he isn't a surgeon. Forgot to mention--I was bidding thru Ebay. Check there to see what you might be able to get without insurance if your doctor doesn't rx one for you.

kmoehumphreys
February 2nd, 2013, 11:48 PM
Thanks for all the great suggestions. More preparation means less anxiety for me!

O_DeeDee
June 18th, 2018, 01:48 PM
Hello Karlene, So your surgery was for a supraspinatus tear? How many cm?

ForceDJ
June 18th, 2018, 10:16 PM
I'm sorry that you got this injury. During my recover, I read that rotator cuff surgery is one of the top three worst surgeries to recover from. You'll be sleeping in the recliner for weeks, if not months. PT will suck, and feel more like torture. But do as much of whatever they tell you to do (on your own at home), and you'll recover a lot quicker. But...the one thing that I never thought of, and no one mentioned to me before the surgery...were the things I do with that hand/arm that I wouldn't be able to do during recovery. Simple things like brush your teeth, comb your hair, drive your car, wash your backside, etc. And I hate to mention this, but no one else did...and it was diffficult for me...wiping after taking a poop. Had I realized that before...I'd have practiced a little bit before the surgery. Sounds dumb, and gross...I know...until you have to do it. Otherwise, I think you'll do just fine. Since you're a swimmer, you'll be itching to get back in the water...and that will expedite your full recovery. Good luck.

Dan

Allen Stark
June 19th, 2018, 01:38 PM
Hopefully I'll get out of the sling this week. I evidently had less pain than most, but the doing everything one handed is getting old. I know that getting the sling off doesn't mean I can actually do anything with my left arm, but at least I can get in the pool and kick.

Karlene
June 19th, 2018, 05:48 PM
Hello Karlene, So your surgery was for a supraspinatus tear? How many cm?

Danielle, I'll respond to you via email.