TRUE PERSONAL PATIENT STORY OF A SHOULDER ARTHROSCOPY
I am a retired 54 year old male in excellent health considering that my life for many years involved long sedentary
hours as an investment banker. I'm not sure when or why my right shoulder problems began. There was no accident
or tennis problem that I can recall. In fact, I am left-handed. Gradually over time, however, it became painful
for me to put on a suit coat, sleep on my back with my right arm above my head, sleep on my right side, lift my
right arm above my head to pull open the moonroof of the car, or lift a bicycle up to place it on the overhead
hooks in the garage. I tolerated the discomfort until I realized that the problem was degenerating not improving.
I estimated that I was limited to about 60% movement in my shoulder without incurring pain.
Through a referral, I met with my orthopedic surgeon for an examination and had my shoulder x-rayed and MRIed.
My surgeon then recommended arthroscopic surgery based on the findings of a partial rotator cuff tear in my shoulder
and my symptoms. The surgery was performed on December 7, 1998. I checked into the hospital at 7am and left about
noon although I recall being under anesthesia for about two hours. (Someone must pick you up after the surgery
since you are pretty groggy.) It was determined through the surgery that my shoulder impingement had been caused
by a bone spur, bursitis, and torn cartilage.
I rested at home for 24 hours, met with my surgeon on December 10, and kept my arm in a sling for a week. The stitches
were removed a week after surgery and amounted to one stitch each covering three very small incisions of about
1/4" each. (No notable scars have remained.) The shoulder was ginger for that first week but not painful unless
I tried to move my right arm higher than 45 degrees from my side.
I began physical therapy on December 15 and continued formal therapy there twice a week until the end of January
1999. I was determined to make a success of the operation since I had been told by friends who had had similar
operations on knees that a commitment to the rehab process is vital. However, despite conscientiously doing the
recommended exercises daily during the first two weeks of rehab, the movement in my shoulder had not even returned
to its pre-operation level. I became a little concerned because the operation had not produced immediate results;
but, I was being too impatient. Increased movement soon started coming in greater increments. Approximately 6 weeks
into rehab, I crossed over the point where painless movement in my shoulder exceeded what it had been before the
operation. That was an important benchmark, and the shoulder got even better. After I stopped physical therapy
treatments, I began a regular exercise routine at a fitness center to build strength and increase movement in the
As of this writing, May 1, I have regained a whopping 95% of the original movement and 100% of the strength in
my right shoulder. I have absolutely no problem sleeping on my right side, lifting a bicycle overhead, etc. There
is still a small discomfort in putting on a suit coat, but the feeling is more of a stretching than the sharp pain
I used to feel. I continue to work out the shoulder at least every other day and believe that there is continuing
Overall, I am extremely happy with the results of the surgery. My surgeon was very forthright from the outset about
the issues and expectations related to surgery of this nature as well as the importance of a patient's dedication
to the post-operative rehabilitation process. In our case, I believe that the great skill of the surgeon and the
dedication to rehab by the patient have both contributed to the success of the surgery. My strong and painfree
right shoulder is the proof in the pudding.
For more information about rotator cuff tendonitis and tears click here:
Cuff Tendonitis and Tears
Diagram of Normal Rotator Cuff
Shoulder arthroscopy operating room picture
Bursitis and scar tissue inside shoulder