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Has anyone had shoulder surgery? How was the recovery?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 02, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Not exactly a paleo question. Has anyone had shoulder surgery? How was the recovery? How long did it take you to get back to "normal" ("normal" meaning "active")?

I've been diagnosed (via MRI) with an extensive glenoid labrum tear in my left shoulder. It's likely that I've been living with this injury for many years as there is evidence of calcification of the injury. Back in my yoga years, certain poses and movements would give me trouble with that shoulder, but nothing serious.

Fast forward to a few months ago. I've been doing CrossFit for about a year and a half and really liking it. Last October, I started having a lot of pain with movements like pullups, presses, KB presses, etc. Saw a doc, got a shot, did a lot of shoulder strengthening exercises, got Airrosti rehab treatments (highly recommended), spent a lot of time working on my shoulder muscles with a Thera Cane and with la crosse balls. All that helped, but I still have a lot of pain with certain movements. Pullups are impossible, presses are painful, etc. Finally had an MRI procedure.

Having exhausted the non-invasive therapies, we're now talking surgery to repair the labrum. It's an increasingly common arthroscopic surgery procedure to abrade the torn part of the labrum and, if necessary, re-attach the labrum to the bone. I know a few people that have had this surgery; they all did fine, but I don't know anyone who has had this surgery who does (or wants to continue doing) CrossFit-like workouts and/or weightlifting. I've been reading on the web that a full recovery (to the point where I could be lifting heavy weights again) could take as long as a year. Yikes!

Sorry for the long post, but I'm stuck trying to decide what to do. If anyone out there has experience with this sort of injury, or with the surgery and recovery, or any other helpful pointers, I'd very much appreciate hearing about it.

8ce8b8fd33944e67dfd6277e7b671815

(327)

on May 24, 2013
at 05:57 AM

get better insurance, that's about all you can do. Seek out the orthopedic surgeon who you want to be treated by, look for doctors with a good name. If it's worth it you can fly out there for surgery or do whatever, but until your willing to make that kind of commitment you are going to keep running into run of the mill surgeons.

8ea84667a7f11ac3967f2ecfcad28ad8

(641)

on February 12, 2012
at 07:43 PM

My 2¢: Make sure you pick up your pain meds *before* the surgery.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on February 10, 2012
at 07:54 PM

We're all very different in where/how much pain we experience. In my case, I was very surprised at how LITTLE pain I had after shoulder surgery compared to my lifelong back pain and childbirth. It's what you have previously experienced and how your own neurological processes work that makes the difference. Hope it goes well for you!

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on February 10, 2012
at 07:52 PM

Youth is a big plus, Mario! Hope you recover fully!

8ea84667a7f11ac3967f2ecfcad28ad8

(641)

on September 25, 2011
at 07:47 PM

It depends a lot on how extensive your surgery was. For myself, I'm at about 85% after seven months, and I'm counting for at least a year before I'm back to 100%.

8ea84667a7f11ac3967f2ecfcad28ad8

(641)

on February 02, 2011
at 03:45 PM

Thanks for the comment!

92549e74c37aed4d5930b22e910dcf22

(382)

on February 02, 2011
at 03:44 PM

It was my left as well, trust is earned as you know. Some time training with it will reaffirm that trust. All is not lost.

8ea84667a7f11ac3967f2ecfcad28ad8

(641)

on February 02, 2011
at 02:52 PM

Thanks for the comment. I understand the trust thing. After getting the MRI results, I already feel like I'll never be able to use my left arm again for anything.

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21 Answers

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5
92549e74c37aed4d5930b22e910dcf22

(382)

on February 02, 2011
at 02:38 PM

I had my rotator cuff rebuilt by DR Cooper from Dallas (Dallas Cowboys shoulder guy) back in 1998. I was pretty bad off, couldn't get my wallet out of my back pocket without it dislocating. Still playing ball at the time, but with little effectiveness. They had to put a nerve block in to complete the surgery (temporarily paralyzing the arm) which lasted for about 72 hours. As soon as the sutures healed (10 days) they had me in physical therapy working on range of motion. This was one of the most painful experiences of my life. Once I had the correct range of motion I was released to start strength training at my own pace. One month after the surgery I was back to 80% strength and today it is actually the stronger of the two shoulders...

You have to be honest with your Doctor. Let him know your goals and what you plan on doing with the rest of your life. He will guide you in the right direction if he is worth the money.

The biggest hang up I had was the mental game. Learning to trust something that has failed you in the past.

Bottom line, the faster you can get back to training the faster your recovery is going to be.

Not a doctor, just someone who has been there before.

92549e74c37aed4d5930b22e910dcf22

(382)

on February 02, 2011
at 03:44 PM

It was my left as well, trust is earned as you know. Some time training with it will reaffirm that trust. All is not lost.

8ea84667a7f11ac3967f2ecfcad28ad8

(641)

on February 02, 2011
at 02:52 PM

Thanks for the comment. I understand the trust thing. After getting the MRI results, I already feel like I'll never be able to use my left arm again for anything.

1
4213ffb9a50400473603b70087c7af95

on February 10, 2012
at 07:21 PM

I am facing arthroscopic shoulder surgery for a torn tendon. How painful is the recovery? Do pain meds help? The surgery doesn't scare me, the pain following does. Thanks

8ea84667a7f11ac3967f2ecfcad28ad8

(641)

on February 12, 2012
at 07:43 PM

My 2¢: Make sure you pick up your pain meds *before* the surgery.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on February 10, 2012
at 07:54 PM

We're all very different in where/how much pain we experience. In my case, I was very surprised at how LITTLE pain I had after shoulder surgery compared to my lifelong back pain and childbirth. It's what you have previously experienced and how your own neurological processes work that makes the difference. Hope it goes well for you!

1
F52d34883ce8a37820dc0df04fe3cf41

(10)

on February 22, 2011
at 07:00 PM

I am a pitcher and I had surgery to repair a fully torn rotator cuff. He also repaired a torn labrum. I am redshirting this season. I want to be back fully 100% by next season. Is it possible to come back stronger and throwing harder after an injury like this?

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on February 10, 2012
at 07:52 PM

Youth is a big plus, Mario! Hope you recover fully!

1
8876109de1af3ad4504a4959cae466f0

on February 02, 2011
at 03:23 PM

DON'T GIVE UP THE CROSSFIT!!!! I had a complete tear of my rotator cuff and a SLAP lesion to my labrum, playing softball, not crossfit. I was very active doing crossfit and I am CERTAIN my coaches are the reason I returned to work so early (if that's what you want). If you have great coaches they will work with you to get the shoulder back to 100% before you know it. I was doing lying down kettle bell hold with the little kettle bell 6 days after surgery. I was doing "half" of a tgu's at about 6 weeks with an 18#, and was released back to work at 3 months. I am a police officer and when I originally had the surgery, they told me at least 4, probably 6 months. I am disappointed by the amount of time to get full mobility (because of the r.c., I think) I was doing unbanded pull ups at 12 to 15 a time, but can't do them yet because of it hurting, but I am only 5 months out from surgery. They told me 8 to 12 months before full recovery too, but I am going to make it earlier ;) I am push pressing close to what I was, 25# less, but I'll take it.

I will forewarn you that it is the worse pain you will ever feel. I had a female friend tell me she had done natural child birth TWICE and this surgery hurt worse than either pregnancy/birth. USE THE ICE!!! I also took Motrin, which isn't very PALEO, but only took it for the original prescription and very limited ibuprofen after. Good luck!!!

8ea84667a7f11ac3967f2ecfcad28ad8

(641)

on February 02, 2011
at 03:45 PM

Thanks for the comment!

1
21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on February 02, 2011
at 03:20 PM

I had three labrum surgeries. Long story short, it was a disaster. A mix of surgeon error and me messing up resulted in much worse chronic shoulder pain. That being said, everybody I know who had similar surgeries wound up just fine, and the lifting ones can still lift.

My advice would be to not stray from PT guidelines (even if your doctor instructs you too!), make sure to use the ice machine thingy after surgery, and not panic if things go a little wrong. They won't though, because labrum repairs are typically easier than cuff repairs. Unless it's a reverse Bankhart or a multi-ligament concurrent repair.

1
531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

on February 02, 2011
at 03:13 PM

Broke my collarbone back in 2007. At the time, I was eating SAD and I attribute that in large measure to the break, which was quite bad. I began eating gluten-free during the recovery period, which lasted six to nine months. Actually, there was still pain a year later, but the worst of it was over. Today, there's nothing left but the scar. (And also the titanium piece, which is still in place.) I believe if I'd gone even further with the dietary changes at that time (e.g., no grains, etc.) my recovery would have been quicker. As it was, I didn't get to that point until about a year ago.

0
3ee4366bcca8328b093a5744fd49fad2

on May 24, 2013
at 04:28 AM

how do you get your name off of this web site ?

0
Efc292c765d391517d32ab6696dfbf70

on May 14, 2013
at 02:12 AM

I have had two shoulder surgeries on my right shoulder,i had a full thickness tear about 4cc, rotator-cuff, i had the first surgery on Dec.17th 2009 the doctor dropped the bicep tendon which is in my arm pit now, i re-ripped it falling off my pickup, i grabbed the side of the p.u. bed, i had the second surgery on 7/23/2010 by a different doctor who does nothing but shoulders,i showed him that tendon in my armpit, he said that is a proceeger that is done, but ,he doesn't do that, so i thought he would put it all back together, after the second surgery, the tendon was still in my armpit and they paralyzed my diaphrgam, a week after surgery i ended up in the ER, i couldn't breath, that lasted along time,the doctors told me the longer it stay paralyzed, that it might not come back, that was the Block that caused it,i think it is back now, but the shoulder is not healed, the tendon is still in my armpit a year ago i went to a different surgeon and he said it is tore, i don't know how ? and that he would like to cut the shoulder and add cadaver tissue to repair it, i said what about this tendon, he said he doesn't know what that is, so i told him i cannot take another half-fast surgery, i want a surgery that Eli Manning would get, he didn't care for that to well, these guys are crazy, i have been to three other surgeons and going to my forth Thursday, some said leave it alone, or take it has long as you can,they said i am too young for a rebuilt ? i am 58 years old, this is been going on three years now how much more ? My question is.. can this be repaired, or should i just live with it ? my bicep is numb all the time and that tendon is digging in my armpit all the time, i don't know what to do ? i would be thankful for any help, steve

8ce8b8fd33944e67dfd6277e7b671815

(327)

on May 24, 2013
at 05:57 AM

get better insurance, that's about all you can do. Seek out the orthopedic surgeon who you want to be treated by, look for doctors with a good name. If it's worth it you can fly out there for surgery or do whatever, but until your willing to make that kind of commitment you are going to keep running into run of the mill surgeons.

0
4b35374b5c5cb1fec933f7f09c1551e2

on April 30, 2013
at 11:26 PM

I just had a labrum tear repaired April 24th 2013. I got 7 anchors in there. I've had back surgery with 8rods 16 screws in dec 2009 and the pain from my shoulder is by far much worse.how long is it going to hurt like this? Meds, ice don't help. Any ideas on how long or what I can do?

0
560ff82e132a33720b078660e10d260c

on April 29, 2013
at 09:56 PM

depending on how bad your repair was, this can be a life changer for up to a year and a half for those who lift more than 30 or 40 pounds each day. I do all the adduction/ inside and outside turns with elbow still at side, then limited range bench 20 then 30 pounds, 14 reps. Then military 20 pounds. its getting there but it takes time.

0
1af77ec8051c8499aeaf98c644d8bf59

on April 17, 2013
at 03:04 PM

hI hAD SURGERY 3.5 MONTHS AGO FOR 2 PARTCIAL TEARS ROTATOR CUFF & TWO LABRUM TEARS a SLAP TEAR 2 AND A SLAP TEAR 3. i HAD 4 ANKERS PLACED. i HAVE A JOB WITH HEAVEY LIFTING SO i AM NOT WORKING AT THE MOMENT. I LIFT THROUGH OUT A 12 HOUR SHIFT 40 T0 90LBS. MY CONCERN WILL I EVER BE ABLE TO GET ALL MY STRENGHT BACK? I AM 57 YEAR OLD FEMALE WHO HAS BEEN STRONG AND ACTIVE ALL MY LIFE. I WOULD LOVE A HEADS UP ON THIS SINCE WORKMANS COMP HAS DENIED IT BUT NOW AFTER THE SURGEON SAID YES IT HAPPED AT WORK THEY WANT TO SETTLE. i CAN ONLY LIFT 2 POUNDS AT THE MOMENT. AND DONT KNOW IF I CAN EVER GET BACK TO MY JOB AGAIN. WORRIED . Y. HEALTH CARE WORKER

0
62c4dbe3b9fbd6292843683efa998a20

on March 11, 2013
at 09:55 PM

I had torn labrum & torn rotator cuff surgery on 1/3/2013. I was concerned about the pain but after living with the pain for the past 22 years when I hurt it in the Marines. The surgery was a piece of cake. Of course everyone is different but I can't be happier. Wore the sling for 4 weeks and slept in the recliner. By the way got the flu on my 3rd day from recovery, not fun. I used the ice machine for inflamation and did take my pain pills for a couple of days. I started PT 3 weeks after surgery. Majority of the pain I had is from the physical therapist stretching my arm and shoulder. This is understanable as the arm was immobile for so long. I have talked with a few people which had either the labrum surgery or the rotator cuff surgery. Everyone heals differently. I think your pain level depends some on your threshold and how long you have lived with the pain. I have made every PT session and will not quit until the PT says okay.

0
Bc62bd9fdd4a9424df61a3254be1ab59

on February 20, 2013
at 01:05 AM

i had arthroscopic surgery on my lift soullder 5 months ago and i still have alot of pain all the time day and night but really geting wors while i try to go to sleep some time its keeps me awake all night i like to know is how long it will take to be normal back will be great to have some information

0
Df84cebe3e00b32979ced451653817ad

on February 18, 2013
at 06:17 PM

Sorry to hear about your position,though I must say it's not uncommon for people like us. We love to work on the major muscles, but tend to neglect the minor ones. (IE we do snatches, thrusters, and handstand pushups, but neglect strengthening our rotator cuffs)

For me, it was about as messy as you can get without shoulder replacement. And it's not for sure that we're not going down that path in the future.

Complete labral separation from the glenoid, a piece of my glenoid was actually broken off and floating inside my shoulder, slight nerve damage as a result, a partially torn biceps tendon, and a torn rotator cuff.

My orthopedist spent 7 hours doing open surgery to put humpty-dumpty back together, that was August 2012. Now it's Feb 2013, and I'd say aside from a wicked scar (and the most pain I think I've ever felt in my life, and that was my second shoulder surgery, and I've been shot before in Iraq) I'd say I'm about 90% flexibility (about where I was before my surgery, but without the shooting pain) and about 50% strength. Where I used to be able to do 20-25 dead hang pullups, now I max out at about 12-15. I JUST now started back at my box, doing modified workouts like M100s and lots of lower body stuff.

My biggest suggestion? Is don't treat physical therapy like you do crossfit. It's not about lifting the most you can, or progressing the fastest you can, it's about strengthening the weakest muscles in your body and slowly breaking down the scar tissue. Keep your movements smooth and slow, don't jerk and pull. Isolate the shoulders or back depending on the exercise, and make sure you're being smooth. To coin a motto we use in the Marines "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast." Don't rush it. That rotator cuff is a LOT weaker than even your atrophied deltoid.

Some good things to do post op? Do the PT the way the PT tells you to when he tells you to. Another one that helps are every 1/2 hour take several DEEP breaths, hold them for 5-6 seconds, and then let them out slowly. This way you don't lose your precious VO2MAX when you're recovering. (Might be anecdotal, but my Ortho suggested this, and I did it - I only lost about 5 seconds or so off of my 5k run time after 4 months.

Eat nutritious foods. Keep in mind that you're going to be more sedentary than you're used to, so plan accordingly. Probably not necessary to eat 3-4000 calories a day being you WILL be sitting on your couch for the first couple of weeks. Drink lots of water, and get lots of rest.

Ice is your friend. 30 minutes every two hours. I bought a christmas light timer so I didn't have to wake up every night to plug/unplug it. Best $10 you'll ever spend I promise you.

TAKE YOUR MEDICATIONS. I know paleo-guys/gals also tend to be anti-medication, but there's a LOT of inflammation going on in there, and it needs to be dealt with accordingly. Not a place to 'suck it up' here guys and gals. Another Marine phrase - "If you're hurt, suck it up. If you're injured, got to medical." That applies here. Many of us are in this situation (raises my hand) because we ignored the fact that we were HURT, and tried to train through it - as a result, now we're injured.

Last but not least, take your time. This is a marathon, not a sprint. I can attest to this. I had shoulder surgery for a labral tear in 2008. 30 days later I was doing pullups. 3 months later I ran a 297 PFT. 6 months after that I ran a perfect CFT. And 6 months after that I deployed to Afghanistan. And a year after that I started crossfit, tearing up the box and setting some impressive records. I treated that shoulder like it was never injured. And 4 years later - almost to the day, I required another shoulder surgery and was told that I did so much damage to it that it was basically a coin flip on whether or not to do a complete replacement. And I'm only 32 years old. Give yourself a chance to heal. Go work out at your box when the doc says you can, but don't worry about RX'ing everything. This is a great time to work on your squats, your pistols, your double unders, and REFINE YOUR TECHNIQUES when it comes to snatches, cleans, and front squats.

Slow and steady wins this race. The only thing rushing wins you is a repeat visit for a more extensive surgery down the road.

Wish you the best in your recovery.

0
2932b6fb0d1dc19328781b904f3a687e

on January 30, 2013
at 03:19 AM

Had posterior labrum repair November 12, 2012, 3 anchors, sling x 4 weeks, today is January 28, 2013 and I have pretty much full rom and am doing table pushups and rotator cuff strengthening. I have minimal to no pain, much less than prior to the repair. I can start weight training at 12 weeks but have already been doing biceps and triceps work (light weight). I had little pain post op --just used staggered nsaids and tylenol. This was not even near the pain of child birth, actually quite an easy surgery to recover from for me and I am thrilled I had it done. I used to get clicking, popping and aching every day and my arm always felt like it was falling out of the socket and weak. I can tell my shoulder is fixed and is going to be excellent with a little more time. I did NOT have a rotator cuff injury which I think is much worse and my labral tear was posterior--not a SLAP tear. I feel sorry for the people having such a tough time of it. I am 39 years old. I did p90x workouts and ran 25-30 miles per week prior to surgery. I have been running on the treadmill since 8 weeks post op and am looking forward to restarting the weight training and yoga. The shoulder would hurt some after physio (and each new set of exercises) but would then feel stronger if I kept pushing it for a couple of days.

0
C417d477a07ccbe2580fe3bc04f6043c

on January 15, 2013
at 08:54 AM

Had rotator cuff surgery 8 weeks ago and it IS a TOUGH surgery. The worst part is the Pain that goes along with the Physical Therapy. All Was going so well and Pain diminishing that they`ve put me on Strengthing excersises but I am now in EXCRUCIATING PAIN and don´t know if I have done any harm to my surgery. I am curling 3 Kilos 8 weeks out of surgery and using 2 kilo arm weights for pulley excerises. Has anybody else experienced this?? Is that too much weight too fast?? Have I Reinjured myself.

Any similar stories or comments would be Greatly appreciated.

This SUCKS!!!!

0
B86c9f1ada64444200ceef5896a878b2

on January 03, 2013
at 01:14 AM

Had rotator cuff and bicep tendon surgery one week ago.Im 69 tomorrow and could not play golf anymore so decided to get it fixed rather than lie around the rest of my life. This is tough surgery! The most pain comes from rehab work which I started immediately at a PT facility 3x per week and at home the other 7 days. There is no time off! You wear a protective sling for 8 weeks, the most important time being at night while sleeping when you have the greatest chance of injuring yourself unconsciously! I've been told that total rehab time is normally 14 weeks and you're at 80% after 6 months and 100% after a year. This is surgery not to be taken lightly. Only do it if you're lifestyle is unacceptable without it. I did PT for three months to see if it would do the trick plus I had a Corto. shot. It didn't improve so I elected surgery. It's no fun but I'm now committed! As far as working out is concerned, I see NO WAY anyone who has had shoulder surgery can do anything with your upper body other than the PT exercises you're given! I've been told that the rotator cuff and rest if shoulder is the most complicated joint in your body. It needs to be brought back slowly or the procedure can fail. I plan to start cardio and whatever body parts I can train without hurting my shoulder. Good luck! Bob

0
B86c9f1ada64444200ceef5896a878b2

on January 03, 2013
at 01:04 AM

Had rotator cuff and bicep tendon surgery one week ago.Im 69 tomorrow and could not play golf anymore so decided to get it fixed rather than lie around the rest of my life. This is tough surgery! The most pain comes from rehab work which I started immediately at a PT facility 3x per week and at home the other 7 days. There is no time off! You wear a protective sling for 8 weeks, the most important time being at night while sleeping when you have the greatest chance of injuring yourself unconsciously! I've been told that total rehab time is normally 14 weeks and you're at 80% after 6 months and 100% after a year. This is surgery not to be taken lightly. Only do it if you're lifestyle is unacceptable without it. I did PT for three months to see if it would do the trick plus I had a Corto. shot. It didn't improve so I elected surgery. It's no fun but I'm now committed! Good luck! Bob

0
0c075a0b6ab37a4ef951410bd8441e80

on October 12, 2011
at 11:21 AM

Just had surgery 4 weeks ago on my shoulder, got another 4 weeks in a sling then 6 months of physio. I tried just strengthening the muscles at the gym but because i had dislocated it 12 times over 4 years when i went to apply for the parachute regiment they said i had to go get a stabilisation operation on it.. Im hoping the physio will heal it so it doesnt happen again as my career depends on it.. Any tips to maintain the rest of my fitness and physique while im in my sling? cheers guys

0
8aa45cbe321302824f9c95ae5f0fa135

on September 25, 2011
at 03:38 AM

I just had shoulder surgery because of two tears, I'm very big on weight Lifting, and psychical work. I really don't know what to think or how to Act. I feel like I'm lossing it because of this heavy pain I'm in. How long Would it take to get full strength back, and have full use of my arm? My doctor Said no pt for four weeks, is that right, can I do anything at the moment??

8ea84667a7f11ac3967f2ecfcad28ad8

(641)

on September 25, 2011
at 07:47 PM

It depends a lot on how extensive your surgery was. For myself, I'm at about 85% after seven months, and I'm counting for at least a year before I'm back to 100%.

0
1baee29895c245c3d24bf6421ee4a9f7

(225)

on February 02, 2011
at 02:52 PM

I'll be curious to hear about your recovery as well, since I've had a torn labrum for almost a year now. I had PT for it for 10 weeks, and my Therapist released me to work at my own pace. I'm stronger now, but too much force applied downward will still sublux the shoulder.

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