Eight months ago I didn’t know anything about the shoulder or how it works. But that was before I was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff, and according to one orthopedic surgeon, the probability of surgery.
So I started doing as much research as I could. I found out that rotator cuff tears are a common shoulder problem, although some are due to trauma and some from wear and tear. Mine was the second case, caused by years of walking my large and very strong dog as she pulled on her leash. It was just after she died that the pain got almost unbearable. At first my regular doctor thought it was just rotator cuff tendonitis, but an MRI showed that one of the tendons was torn all the way through (a complete tear).
The more articles I read, the more I was determined to avoid surgery. Recovery from rotator cuff repair is a lengthy and painful process, starting with six weeks in a sling (meaning no driving) and then months of intense physical therapy. Sometimes the repair doesn’t even work, and people with constant pain have to go through another surgery. I just didn’t want to do it.
Luckily, I found another surgeon at the University of Washington who specialized in rotator cuff repair. He was up on the latest research about shoulder problems, and a proponent of trying conservative treatment first (like physical therapy) before jumping into surgery. I was hopeful and tried physical therapy for two months, but the pain only got worse and I couldn’t move my arm without cursing. So I gave in and decided to have the operation, where my tendon would be anchored to the bone.
It’s been four months now. The recovery has been painful at times, and not having an arm has been inconvenient, but after all my trepidation, I feel much better than I did before the surgery. It was worth going through. I’m glad I did it.