Question:Six months ago I had a rotator cuff repair. My doctor says it was a "success" because I'm pain free now and sleeping at night. Even though I'm 77 years old, my idea of success is playing racquetball again. Who's right?
You both are! Success can be measured as many ways as there are people to measure it. The surgeon may look at the stability of the shoulder and status of the healing tissues and say, "It's a success."
Some patients may think pain relief is enough. Others, like you, want a higher level of function. You measure the results in terms of how much you can do and how well you can do it.
It's also true that two patients with the same problem having the same operation can end up with different outcomes. This could be based on their level of activity before the operation. There could be complications or health issues for one patient but not the other.
Many patients today expect to get back to their previous level of activity after surgery. Most often this is possible but it does take time. Let your doctor know what you consider a "success" so he or she can help you get there.Robert H. Brophy, MD, et al. Measurement of Shoulder Activity Level. In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. October 2005. Vol. 439. Pp. 101-108.
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