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Advice about shoulder surgery

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  • #112578
    David Ice
    Participant

    I found out this afternoon that I most likely will need immediate shoulder surgery. One tendon is torn nearly in half, and another tendon is also significantly torn. The weird thing is that there was no “incident” or “event” that I can remember that could have caused it.

    Does anybody have any experience with this in terms of pain levels, recovery time, physical therapy, and how long you have to lay out from playing harp?

    I am supposed to see an orthopedic surgeon on Wednesday, but was warned I should plan on “immediate surgery.” Any advice and/or encouragement would be much appreciated!

    David Ice

    #112579
    Sherj DeSantis
    Participant

    No advice on that surgery David, sorry, but will keep you in my thoughts for a speedy and problem free recovery. I will say I had a deeply buried, 20 year old ganglion cyst removed from inside my wrist, and I was amazed at how quickly my wrist healed, and how long the anesthesia lasted after the surgery. I didn’t feel it until about 3 days after the surgery, and it was manageable pain. Not comparable I know, but I hope you will find your surgery goes as positively as mine. Many Blessings. Sherj

    #112580
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    David- I had rotator cuff surgery about 20 years ago. In my case, it took three months for the arm to work normally again, and I had to go through grueling physical therapy. But it worked fine, and the shoulder has almost 100% range of motion and no pain. Do you by any chance lift weights? Could that have led to this?

    #112581
    kay-lister
    Member

    David – SO sorry to hear that you will be having surgery! Your recovery will most likely be a GOOD three months. During that time, do EXACTLY what you are told to do or NOT to do. That is your major healing time and so many folks start feeling better and then push themselves to do things that they are not supposed to do and that’s when things get screwed up. The surgery is just to put the pieces in place so to speak and the time afterward is when things are healing, fusing, etc. TOTAL healing time for most surgeries are up to one year, but you will be back to harping LONG before that. You just might feel little twinges an “Lightening strikes”, and little “Attention getting” twinges during that year. I’ve worked for a surgeon for 11 years now and I hear what the doc tells the pts. as far as their post-op situation will be. Again, just do as you are instructed and things should heal quickly. GOOD LUCK AND KEEP UP POSTED!

    Kay

    #112582

    Physical therapy is key to recovery from injury or surgery, and can truly work miracles. Wishing you a full, swift and complete recovery, David.

    #112583
    Lynne Abbey-Lee
    Participant

    Sorry to hear this, David. Just think of all the wonderful arrangements you will write while you can’t play! A completely different situation, but I broke my shoulder four years ago. As others have said, physical therapy is the key, and as Carl mentioned, it will be grueling. If you are so instructed, don’t be afraid to take pain meds before a session. It never made me loopy, just allowed me to do all the work with the therapist without crying “uncle.” Kay’s advice is also very good. I did my home PT exercises on both sides, to strengthen my naturally weaker, unaffected left arm/shoulder. I am happy to say that I have no lasting effects whatsoever, which probably involves some luck as well. Good luck to you, and best wishes for a speedy (record-setting, even) recovery!

    #112584
    Gretchen Cover
    Participant

    David,

    I presume you have had MRIs and Xrays to determine the problem. Here is what happened to me: I live in Florida was told last year I had 2 bone spurs and needed shoulder surgery. I smartly got a second opinion. I actually flew from Florida to Johns Hopkins to see the orthopediast who works on Baltimore Orioles players and Baltimore Symphony musicians. I found the name through internet searching. It cost me an airline ticket, cab fare and the doctor’s visit. It turned out that despite my excruciating shoulder pain I had “no detectable problem.” He said he sees the mystery problem I had frequently with pitchers and violinsts who cross their arms across their body – same motion as playing bass on the harp with the left hand. I did physical therapy and eventually my problem cleared up without surgery.

    Bottom line – do not do surgery without a second or even third opinion. Also ask whether the problem can be resolved by arthoscopic surgery or will you need traditional surgery. What about recovery? Ask LOTS of questions and get answers.

    Best to you making a very difficult decision. I wish you a speedy recovery if surgery is your only option.

    #112585
    lam-wk
    Participant

    David, you are quite worried as a shoulder problem may affect your life as a musician. Indeed it seems you are not alone on this matters as shared by others here. Did you suffer a rotator cuff injury caused by repetitive over-activities? There could be many causes of pain such as Frozen shoulder, rotator cuff injury, degeneration and other causes.

    The following chart from American Academy of Family Physicians may help you better communicate with your doctor:
    http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/health-tools/search-by-symptom/shoulder-problems.html

    Your doctor may need to have more detailed assessment and order further tests such as X-ray and MRI to make a diagnosis and manage accordingly. Some condition may just need rest, ice and simple pain killers while others may need physical therapy. Surgery is only one of the many options. Your doctor may discuss the pros and cons of each options based on his or her assessment.

    Here is some information from American Academy of Family Physicians which may help you understand more:
    http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/exercise-fitness/injury-rehab/shoulder-pain.html

    Remember that information from the discussion does not replace the communication with your doctor. Remember that shoulder conditions are generally curable with appropriate diagnosis and management. Hope you get well soon.

    #112586
    erica-powell
    Participant

    Hi David,

    I feel like you have had a lot of wonderful advice but I wanted to just share my last few months with you. I broke my collar bone and needed surgery (6 screws and a plate). It was a painful procedure but was in the best surgical hands. I was SO happy I did surgery. The doctor said he had patients will movement after 2 weeks and after 10 days I could move my arm. David, I was playing my harp 4 weeks out of surgery. However, I could not do the heavy lifting. Just know that if you HAVE to have surgery, you will want physical therapy but sometimes the doctor doesn’t always prescribe it. Now it has been two months since surgery and I sat through a 3 hour rehearsal last night of Star Wars music. I felt great and was able to move the harp on my own.

    I wish you the best of luck. Hope all goes well and they take good care of you!
    Erica

    #112587
    jeffrey-mcfadden
    Participant

    Well, I’m between the MRI and my next visit with the Orthopedist, and share your fear. My medical provider is the Department of Veterans Affairs, i.e. VA, so there is no cost to me but the waits are long. I had my MRI two weeks ago and it will be over a month before my next appt. with the doc to find out what the MRI showed. Lots of pain, and I’m afraid harping may be a contributing factor, although I’ve torn my shoulder up considerably in work-related injuries over the years too.

    #112588
    jimmy-h
    Member

    Second opinions are never, ever, overrated. But, be careful you don’t go shopping for the answer you wanted because most times they doctors will agree. Don’t expect your shoulder to ever be the same, your goal should be return of as much function and pain control as possible. Most of your recovery will be with physical rehab, so make the most of it. The surgery just gets you to where the Physical Therapist can have something to work with.

    Also be aware some surgeons do more shoulders than others. Knee’s and Hips are bread and butter to most Ortho surgeons. I’d fire up the google machine and research who the local specialists are. And, if there is a local professional sports team (football, basketball, BASEBALL) then try and figure out who their team doctor is. They all have injuries, but some have more shoulder injuries.

    I’ve taken care of shoulder patients, but it’s been a while. Your arm is going to be put into an immobilizer sling most likely and remain that way for a while. Start practicing life skills with your other hand now, even if you don’t have surgery. And, please let us know how it goes. I’m wishing you a speedy recovery.

    #112589
    Sherj DeSantis
    Participant

    David,
    We haven’t heard so just wondering, how is the shoulder? Hoping you are well on the road to recovery! Sherj

    #112590
    kay-lister
    Member

    Sherj – I was thinking the same thing just yesterday. David – hope you are well!

    #112591
    David Ice
    Participant

    Hi All,

    Mea Culpa for not posting recently. I am doing very well. I went to a shoulder specialist and he felt that it was bursitis, and not any torn ligaments. He gave me some exercises to do, and the pain levels have dramatically dropped. I still feel twinges at night, especially if my arm is in a strange position (I share my bed with 3 dachshunds who manage to completely take it over every night) but overall I’m much better, so I’m hoping and praying that doctor is right. He said that it IS bursitis because if I had torn tendons, the pain would NOT get better or ease up, and mine has.

    #112592
    Sherj DeSantis
    Participant

    Great news David! Thanks for letting us know. Sherj

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