Rotator Cuff Surgery and Return to Riding...

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Mike M, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. Mike M

    Mike M On the Left Coast...

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    Got the surgery done, for a report go to post #15...


    I am going in for arthroscopic surgery on my right shoulder to repair a partially torn rotator cuff next week. Its been coming for a long time, I just put it off until now so it was during the off-season for riding.

    The surgery will require that they detach the remaining tendon from the bone (only about 1/4 of the tendon is still attached and intact), clean up the rest and reattach the whole tendon with an anchor and sucher. I will be in a brace/sling for about a month and then will start rehabbing the shoulder. I'm told it will likely be about 4-6 months for the shoulder to start feeling good and a year for complete recovery with 100% strength.

    My hope is to be able to ride carefully come early May (3 mos. following surgery). I intend to "tone down" my riding style so I won't have to rely on a lot of heavy-duty shoulder use.

    Has anyone gone through this? Am I being realistic with this timeframe?
    #1
  2. ragtoplvr

    ragtoplvr Long timer

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    Mine hurt pretty bad for about 6 months and too bad to risk riding for a year. Everyone heals different.

    1. Not having ridden a while, odds are greater that you might drop the bike. Of course, we all must pick it up right away, and there goes the shoulder.
    2. In the process of dropping the bike, you injure the shoulder.
    3. You have to make an emergency stop because of some asshat in a cage, and all the braking force goes to the shoulder, which hurts causing you to let off the brakes, see item 1 and 2.

    So until you are really back, try not to ride, if you must ride maybe a bicycle will be good. I know the bicycle made my shouder feel real good, and get stronger faster. Kinda shrunk the gut too.

    Do that painful physical therapy exactly like they ask, and if you miss a summer, better than missing the rest of your life.

    My advice take it or leave it. It is a free world.

    Good luck what ever you choose.
    #2
  3. in2dabluz

    in2dabluz ARTFUL DODGER

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    YEP, JUST HAD MINE DONE LAST MARCH (3 MUSCLES TORN OFF THE RIGHT BONE HEAD AND IT WAS "MAJOR", I'M STILL DOING P.T. BUT AM AT 97%. IF YOURS IS MINOR AS IT SOUNDS, 3-4 MONTHS B4 EASY RIDING IS DO-ABLE IN SHORT TIMEFRAMES: 15-25 MIN. LIFTING THE ARM IS AN EFFORT ESPECIALLY FOR THE THROTTLE AND BRAKE...TAKE IT EASY, BUT YOU WON'T HAVE ANY STRENGTH TO LIFT ANYTHING, ESPECIALLY IF THE BIKE GOES DOWN (YOU MAY RE-RIP IT IF YOU STRAIN YOURSELF)..
    YOU'LL BE SLEEPING IN A RECLINER FOR 2-3 WEEKS CUZ YA CAN'T LAY FLAT IN BED. HOPEFULLY YOU'LL HAVE SOMEONE AROUND TO HELP YOU WITH THE DAILY ISSUES OF LIFE W/O TOO MUCH STRUGGLING. YOUR DR. MAY SAY NO DRIVING OF CARS FOR 8 OR SO WEEKS, ESPECIALLY W/ 5 SPD... I DIDN'T LISTEN... :deal
    WHEN YOU START THE P.T., DO THE RIGHT ARM AS INSTRUCTED, AND ALSO DO THE LEFT, OTHERWISE ONE WILL BE BULKIN' UP AND THE GOOD ARM LOOKS SICK. FULL RECOVERY IS 8-10 MONTHS IF IT IS MINOR, ... MINE IS 12 MONTHS..ALMOST 100% NOW. AFTER MY ACCIDENT IN THE BAJA, IT WAS 5 MONTHS B4 SURGERY AND I LOST ALOT OF MUSCLE TONE.
    GOOD LUCK TO YA, OH, AND BUT SOME SHIRTS AND JACKETS 2X OR 3XL TO WEAR WHEN YOUR ARM IS IN THE SLING...WALMART HAS GOOD SELECTIONS AND REASONABLE....
    #3
  4. sloMark

    sloMark Been here awhile

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    I was 35yoa at the time, I had my rotator cuff and torn labrum repaired Jan 2006. Was off work (LEO) from 1/15/06 till 3/15/06. After week 6 I was ready to go back, but the doctor wouldn't let me.

    I work out hard and often so I was in good shape going into it, doctor says that makes recovery easier/faster. I do not know if this is true or not.

    After surgery they immediately had me going to physcial therapy, like 3 days a week, that was the worst part, the next morning I was really sore, one morning I thought the therapist re-tore it it hurt so bad.

    1st few days after surgery take your pain pills as prescribed to "stay ahead of the pain." They told me if I waited till it hurt I would always be playing catch up with the pills. I try not to take narcotics but....

    As far as riding there were no problems at all. I do almost all off road. I was back lifting, running, boxing, wrestling as soon as the doctor said it was ok (3/15/06), but I think it took a year to be totally back to normal for that stuff. Really glad I did it. You picked a good time of year to get it done. Good Luck, this was just my experience, hope I helped.


    Oh ya...In2dabluz is right. I slept in a recliner for the 1st three days, and I wore flannel shirts that buttoned up the front since the arm was in a sling, I also bought aerosol spray deodorant to shoot up in my armpit since I couldn't get it in there any other way, LOL.
    #4
  5. Mike M

    Mike M On the Left Coast...

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    I did alot of research on recovery time. Looks like it would be unwise to try to return to riding until late summer (if then).:cry

    Since I have lived with the sub-par mobility and pain and because there is still 1/4 of the tendon still attached to bone, I am going to re-schedule for late September/ early October following the riding season. Then I will have a full 6-7 months before the 2009 riding season is in full bloom.
    #5
  6. LadyDraco

    LadyDraco KillerSmileIHazIt !!

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    Best wishes .... Heal fast....
    My brother had that done... He said the best thing he did for himself..
    If I can recall he was back to work in about the time frame you set...He is a painter...
    But we are all individuals, so time will vary...
    #6
  7. repo

    repo no mans land

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    Torn my right rotator cuff tendon couple years ago...moving furniture.

    Had wicked discomfort sleeping or any resting position. Didn't know it was bad....until I went to doctor 4 months after the injury.

    Had MRI and revealed a 3/4 tear in the tendon. Doc isn't a "lets cut you open and fix it" doctor. Did a bunch of PT and had 2 or 3 cortisone shots over the course of a year. Tried watching what I was doing....in hopes of not reinjuring, etc.

    Today - without going back for MRI, I think it's healed.

    Good luck w/ that.
    #7
  8. 2slo

    2slo Old and Immature

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    Had mine done in Nov. Still hurts if I move it the wrong way but I took both bikes out for a ride yesterday without any problems. I am back to being able to do pushups - though not more than 10 at a time. Ibuprofin and Glucosamine are my friends.

    I don't know about waiting. The muscles and tendons shorten even more potentially making the repair more difficult and lengthening the recovery period. That said, if you want to ride in May it's probably too late unless you're a lot younger than me and many of the other geezers around here.

    Good luck either way.
    #8
  9. Go-4-It

    Go-4-It Been here awhile

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    Hey I had my left shoulder operated on Aug 16, '07. I'm 52 now and was in good shape physically. I had lived with the pain for about 18 yrs. It was just a series of small injuries building up. At the end I was working with a chain saw when the tendon broke completely. Tendons do not heal themselves.

    I went then to my GP and requested a surgery consult. An MRI revealed lots of damage. The rotator cup was & had been cracked, torn shoulder muscle and the tendon was connected just about a mm or so. Surgery was 2.5 hrs using micro tactics. I've got 6 holes going around my shoulder now. Bone spurs and torn muscle was fixed after he had drilled and reattached the tendon. I was in recovery for 6.5 hrs then home with a pain pump. I started PT the very next day. I went 2-3 times a week. It made me cry like a baby just about everytime. When it didn't hurt as much they adjusted the treatments. Now going on 6 months I'm still doing my at home PT with monthly followups at the PT office. I have not attempted to ride. I still have deep muscle pain under my shoulder blade. I can't raise myself to get into a horse saddle. I wouldn't be able to stop a dropped bike. Driving a tractor is really, steering with my left, tuff.

    Don't rush getting back, I was told not to reinjury my shoulder. And I too was told to expect a yr for full recovery. At this point I believe it. I was able to get back to work within 45 days or so. I have a desk job so I would think something more physical will take longer depending on the amount of damage done.

    I too second the instructions on "staying ahead of the pain". Take the meds as perscribed. Without the pain pump (only had for 3 days) and the cold shoulder pack it would have been much worst. I have a followup MRI for today with a dye injection to see how things are going in there.

    I wish you luck. I hope you have someone to stay with you for a few days. And a big comfy lounge chair to stay in. Don't rush the job, a second surgery would really suck!

    __________________
    Stan
    #9
  10. ss34567

    ss34567 Adventurer

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    I had my rotator cuff surgery last september. tore it riding in colorado in July. Doc had to do arthroscopic and open surgery to repair it. He moved my bicep and put in 7 anchors to reattach everything else. Had to stay in the sling for 5 weeks before starting PT. Just 2 weeks ago Doc said I could start hitting the weights(light). I was told it would be a year and probably never have 100%. It is amazingly better already and I have been riding my street bike and done some light stuff on my KTM. Hang in there and do what the Doc says. good luck.

    Steve
    #10
  11. capriccio

    capriccio Long timer

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    You have been well advised. I just want to comment on the riding after 3 months. It depends on the riding position, if the wrist are loaded so are the shoulders. Also type of surgery, if the shoulder is opened, it will take longer to recover.
    I had my right shoulder opened and the left orthoscopically done and in my opinion three months may be to soon unless you work your butt off in rehab, I'm not talking the half hour sessions, I'm talking staying a few hour and slowly build the strength. Just be aware that RE-injury is very common within the first year or untill the shoulder is at full strength.

    Good luck
    #11
  12. Mike M

    Mike M On the Left Coast...

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    The surgery I require is arthroscopic. Doc says no need to remove the bicept, simply need to detach the 1/4 of the cuff tendon that is still attached, clean up the remaining cuff that has been damaged by a bone spur that has developed. Then remove the bone spur and reattach the entire tendon.

    As mentioned, I decided to put it off until fall 2008. Doc says it should be OK but to be careful not to further damage it or tear what is left from the bone. If that happens, he says the surgery is much more complicated and difficult.

    I am in pretty good shape (for a 49 y.o.) and have good strength around the problem area. As long as I control the pain, I should be fine "riding out" the season...using caution and good judgement.:wink:
    #12
  13. ptwohig

    ptwohig Adventurer

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    I just had the same surgery done, after 4 months they let me go back to work, firefighthing, told me to be careful grabbing things behind me. As soon as they let me back at work I was riding again, the only problem, I couldnt do anything crazy as I could not hold up the bike. 6months later, I was ripping it up again, and wiped out pretty hard, amazingly the shoulder survived without damage, cant say the same for my ribs. I would say with some determination and work you could be bake on a bike in 6 months.
    #13
  14. JohnnyBlueLightnin

    JohnnyBlueLightnin Will ride for fun

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    I had my shoulder put back together in mid July of 2005. I was 42 years old. I dont heal as fast as I used to. I forced myself not to ride until the end of September.
    I had a torn and partially detached supraspinatus tendon and a detached bicep tendon. I was in a sling for 6 weeks, then started rehab 3 days a week. While I was in a sling I walked 3 miles a day to get blood flowing well. I was off work for 6 months. (Auto mechanic) Once I started riding my clutch hand was weak and I had to lay my arm on the tank bag to rest. Now the shoulder is great. The rehab is key. Dont overdo it but if you dont go you may end up with limited movement or even a frozen shoulder.
    #14
  15. Mike M

    Mike M On the Left Coast...

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    i'm typing this one-handed so sorry for no caps...

    i thought i would follow up the thread with my surgery yesterday and the results. as i sad earlier, i decided to hold off surgery until now rather than when i first posted back in february so i could still have my riding season this year. and what a great season it was! probably the best of my 10 year riding career (yellowstone, grand tetons, beartooth, moa rally, western colorado...great!). i waited to do the surgery now because it will take around 6 months to regain 80% of strength an motion. i hope to be riding again (very carefully) in may or june 2009. total recovery takes a year.

    i could wait because i still had 25% of the rotator cuff tendon still attached to the bone. i just had to be sure that i didn't tear the rest off because the doc says the tendon "contracts" and makes the procedure much more difficult.

    i went in yesterday morning to rose medical center in denver at 7:45 am and they rolled me in for the surgery at around 10. the anestesiologist explained the option of the "full block" of my shoulder (and arm). it is administered into the neck area into the vessels that feed the arm and shoulder. relatively new procedure similiar to an epideral. despite the pretty scary downsides he was obligated to inform of, i chose to get it at the urging of my surgeon. very good decision---more later on that.

    i got the "happy shot" into the i.v. which took away any anxiety....i was very happy with the world for the 10-15 minutes before he administered the block and general anestesia. there are 3 ways to go about this type of surgery; (open: 3" incision; semi-open: 2 smaller incisions front and back; and arthroscopic where 3 small button-hole sized incisions are made). mine was done arthroscopically. so over the next 1.5 hours the surgeon went in with scope and tools and made some small holes into the bone, then anchored the remaining unattached tendon back to the holes. i also had a large bone spur that was shaved off. last, he found some cartilage damage not previuosly detected and repaired it.

    i came out of the anestesia well and alert with a padded sling in place along with my cryo-cuff shoulder apparatis. you attach the cuff to an ice cooler that comes with it to control swelling (instead of a simple ice pack). also attached is a "stryker pain pump" that adminsters pain killer directly into the shoulder via mini i.v.

    the block worked perfectly. no pain whatsoever....but no feeling at all in my arm and hand. very unsettling....arm just hangin there (my kids called it "my rubber arm"). unsettling is one thing; severe pain is another. i would recommend the block to anyone going through this.

    around 11pm i took 2 oxycodone (essentially pergaset -sp?- without the aspirin content). i fell asleep shortly after, propped upright on my couch/recliner with lots of pillows...not too bad. woke up about 3am and the block was completely gone so i poppod 2 more pain pills. fell back asleep until 5am and took 3 advil which the doc suggested between 4 hr. pain pill periods if needed. i needed it! good suggestion by the doc...they worked great.

    so far today seems ok. no pain meds needed, just keeping my cryo-cuff cold on the shoulder. i would say that making it through this is best if you manage the pain well from the start. the block, the stryker i.v., taking the pain meds at the first sign of discomfort (not after it begins to really ache) and having a good sleeping setup so you get to rest.

    hopefully this will help someone who has to go through rotator cuff surgery.

    cheers! its almost time for a pain pill!
    #15
  16. Some Dude

    Some Dude what attitude problem???

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    Just went through this last Friday myself. I fell off one of my dirtbikes well over a year ago and heard a loud pop as I landed with my arm extended trying to prevent some jagged rocks from hitting my goggles. I was able to ride out of the woods, was very sore but had full range of motion.

    For 3 months I could not sleep on my left side and had some soreness and such, but it was improving on its own and I had full range of motion w/o tons of pain, so I just let it ride. Well late spring this year I upped my riding and training and I seemed to reach a wall of endurance/stamina and the first thing to go was my shoulders fatiguing making tree avoidance at any speed difficult. So I went to the doc end of this summer and got some PT, it made me incredibly sore and offered no improvement as it was re-aggrevating the initial injury. MRI proceeded and they said I had a very small SLAP tear present.

    Surgery last Friday, doc not only found the small section torn away from the bone, but a slit in the base of the tendon that required 3 anchors/sutures to fix it that never showed up on the MRI in addition to the one anchor for the tear they did see. It was done arthroscopically and I have 4 good sized holes in my shoulder as a result. As for pain, I did do the block on their recommendation and from there they had prescribed percocet for 2-3 days following. I took one about 10 hours after the first surgery and they 1 every 5 or so hours after that for only a day. As I was sitting at home on the couch with a whole bunch of pillows it wasn't too hard to get comfy and sleep on and off for a couple hours at a time. Once I tried getting back into a normal schedule though the percocet became more of a necessity in order to get a full 4-5 hours of sleep without interruption I am finding. During the day as I'm on the run quite a bit and in the middle of renovating my rental house, I find Tylenol does ok to keep the pain manageable. The real pain though is setting in though of the atrophy of not using my left arm at all and having a good portion of it's weight sitting on the opposite shoulder which has got me all jacked up in the shoulders. I also get to wear the sling for a month and then have 1-2 months of PT and then re-diagnose from there. I am hoping to be back on a street bike by mid Dec at least and then maybe hit the dirt non-competively in January.
    #16
  17. SEWERMAN

    SEWERMAN Mosquito Killer

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    COngrats Mike on your successful surgery:

    Being a PT myself and having shoulder issues as well, it sounds like you should be good to go by this spring. The best piece of advice I can give you is dont' push it throgh this vist 6 weeks. Do what your doc and PT say and let that tissue heal, after about 6 weeks most if not all that stuff they stiched back together should be healed after taht it's just slowly increasing the weights and rnage of motion.

    Good Luck
    #17
  18. MTNView

    MTNView Adventurer

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    I had shoulder surgery on 2/22/08 required due to a major wreck while DH skiing. I tore two tendons completely off the bone (subscapular and supraspinatus) and ruptured a third (Bicep tendon). I was in a sling day and night for six weeks but started PT 4 days after the surgery. The PT continued for 4 months @ 3 days a week. Most of the PT time was spent on increasing range of motion and I also did strength training exercises 2x a day at home. It was difficult and very painful at first but after a few months things got a little better. I am 52 and in good shape. I first got back on my bicycle (road) in early June and got back on my 1150GS a week later. I stayed on the asphalt and and took it pretty easy for the first two weeks, but I have been riding ever since without any issues. My shoulder feels pretty good now but there is still some pain and it is still weaker that before the crash. I was told it would be a year or more from the surgery date before I would fully heal and that there was a possibility it would never be 100%. From where I am now that seems pretty accurate. Don't overdo it, Do exactly what the Doctor and the PT tell you and although it will take awhile you will be OK and eventually back on the bike. Good luck.
    #18
  19. Mudwiz

    Mudwiz Adventurer

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    well, also excuse no capitals. had my op 2 weeks ago, 1 week holiday, then back to work. hardest week of my career. doing the basic motion pt at the moment, but given minimal painkillers - had to sort some independently.

    failed today - off, i'm sleeping 16 or more hours/day, sort of fitfull - 15 mins then awake for a bit, so not good.

    its really good to read i'm not alone and the rehab should have me up for the first event in 09 as a marshal then first entry for easter. feels a lomg way off at the moment though....

    who else got good pics and video from their op... mine are quite exciting.
    #19
  20. Mike M

    Mike M On the Left Coast...

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    I appreciate the info on PT. I go to my follow-up app't on Friday to get the lowdown on my PT and other details. I keep hearing that the first 6 weeks are critical.....I sure don't want to have to go back in for a re-do......so I will follow the instructions.

    So far, the pain is very manageable (dull ache) considering the surgery. I am back to work today after 4 days at home. The problem is sleeping. Very difficult getting comfortable sleeping sitting upright with a sling on. Last night I figured out that I can sleep on a couch laying down on my left side (surgery was on the right side) with my back against the back of the couch. That way I don't turn when sleeping. Still waking up multiple times during the night but getting 2-3 hours between waking.
    #20