Karen's Rotator Cuff Rehabilitation
(Merritt Island, Florida)
Me and my husband, Joe prior to my surgery
Well, first of all, I'm not an athlete. Yep, even non-athletes can and do get rotator cuff tears. Mine was a partial, near-full thickness tear of the supraspinatous tendon. The MRI also revealed a SLAP tear of the glenoid labrum and a large bone spur.
My injury occurred as a result of lifting a pillow at an odd angle, albeit, a dense pillow, approx. 5 pounds. However, I had also just completed chemotherapy for breast cancer and my body was in a much weakened state. I recently turned 50, so there was degeneration due to aging as well. So I guess one would say, there were a combination of reasons for my injury.
This resulted in a partially frozen shoulder. I had difficulty dressing myself and doing simple, every day tasks. It was painful and also irritating to be so limited in my activities.
Ultimately, I had 12 weeks of physical therapy 3 times a week and I also did my at-home exercises faithfully twice a day. Fortunately, my shoulder became unfrozen.
So, if there's any lesson in this, DO YOUR PHYSICAL THERAPY
, whatever your physical therapist (PT) and doctor want you to do, but don't overdo it...because you can actually slow down your recovery and increase your pain.
I tend to be a perfectionist, so I thought that I could grit my teeth through the pain and was willing to do it 6 times a day if it would make it better faster. Not so. It takes what it takes.
Be patient. I actually learned that my body responded better by limiting my at-home exercises to once a day rather than twice.
Due to concerns about my overall health at the
time, my surgery was delayed for 3 months. I got back to school, the gym, and got lazy about my at-home physical therapy...a BIG mistake.
While my shoulder did not refreeze, I did lose some range of motion I had regained and my pain increased. I thought working out and lifting weights were strengthening the shoulder so that the other exercises were no longer necessary.
The PT's know what they're talking about. They're still necessary. I'm a good or bad example depending on your perspective.
Three months later, I've had surgery and am now 4 weeks after surgery and still in a sling. Rehab started within a week of surgery and I go 3 times a week for therapy where only the PT moves the shoulder.
Soon, I get to add at-home therapy and am excited to begin actively working towards a full recovery. They tell me it will be a minimum of 4-6 months, possibly even a year, but whatever it takes, physical therapy will be a top priority in my daily routine even after I've finished my rehab.
Please be encouraged!
If a 50 year old woman, who had gastric bypass surgery in 2006, is recovering from breast cancer from 2007 (I'm cancer-free now by the way) can recover from a rotator cuff tear repair
in 2008, so can you.
Keep a positive attitude, work through the pain and do your at-home exercises, no matter what it takes.
I intend to get my full range of motion back so I can golf, fully participate at the gym and ball room dance.
I'll keep you all posted on my progress and how well I achieve my goal of reclaiming my life to the fullest!