Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

I have a sad tale to tell about my shoulder. I tore the rotator cuff in a big way when I fell on the ice last winter. They said it was a massive tear but that it could be repaired. Well, I went ahead and had the surgery but it didn't work. Three months later and an MRI showed the tear had reopened and was getting bigger. I wasn't in any pain, but I was losing motion and the full use of that arm. To make a long story short, I had yet another surgery (my third operation on the same shoulder). Things have gone from bad to worse. The tear hasn't healed, the arm doesn't work, and I don't know what to do next.

Answer:

What is your surgeon advising? Usually the physician who has followed you through all the procedures will have a proposed plan of care or at least some options in mind. Even with a massive tear and two revision surgeries, there may be some treatment that could relieve your pain and restore some of your motion and function. It could be that a rehab program might benefit you. A program of joint motion, muscle strengthening, and conditioning exercises might help return some of your function. A fourth revision surgery to repair the damage may or may not be in your best interests. Your surgeon is the best one to make this determination. He or she will view the imaging studies (X-rays, MRIs, CT scans) and compare them to what was found at the time of the first three procedures. That information along with the results of a current clinical examination will provide what's needed to move forward with treatment. It's possible that there was other damage done to the shoulder when you first injured it that is complicating the results. Studies have shown that the more surgeries done on one shoulder, the less likely the chances are for a successful result. You aren't out of options yet! Depending on your age and the condition of the shoulder joint, soft tissues, and underlying bone, you might be a candidate for a total shoulder replacement. Again, your next step is to consult with your surgeon and possibly even get a second or third opinion. Gather all the information you can before making your final decision. Dana P. Piasecki, MD, et al. Outcomes After Arthroscopic Revision Rotator Cuff Repair. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. January 2010. Vol. 38. No. 1. Pp. 40-46.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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