A rotator cuff tear is one of the most common joint injuries diagnosed. From repetitive movements to trauma, the causes of rotator cuff tears are so broad almost all of us are at risk for the condition, so it’s important to know your options for healing your body and maintaining a full range of motion. Most doctors initially recommend a steroid or anti-inflammatory medication protocol to begin treatment for a rotator cuff tear, but the number of patients undergoing rotator cuff tear surgery is increasing. Last year, almost 50k patients opted for the surgery but is invasive surgery really the best option for repair?
Recent studies* considering the effectiveness of rotator cuff surgery found the benefits of the procedure inconclusive in most patients evaluated. When compared to the healing results of patients who did not undergo surgery, patients who had the surgery showed no significant advantage. The success of rotator cuff tear surgery depends on a number of factors: the size and severity of the tear, your tissue, tendon and muscle health, your age and lifestyle, and the location of the tear. If you don’t have the right mix of success factors, your surgery could be ineffective at healing your injury. The success of your surgery also depends on your surgical plan and choosing the right procedure for your specific needs. There are three different surgery options currently available open, arthroscopic, or mini- open which involves both arthroscopic and open surgery procedures. The wrong surgery approach can actually do more damage than good. Here’s a few other things you need to know about opting for rotator cuff tear surgery:
If you’re considering surgery for your rotator cuff tear, you’re no stranger to pain, but your pain after the operation will be at an intensity level you’ve never experienced before. Many patients report moderate pain in the days immediately following the procedure but then experience a steep spike in severity within 7 to 10 days. Pain from rotator cuff tear surgery migrates and could result in pain in your arm, neck, and back. Many patients are prescribed medication for the pain induced nausea soon after the surgery as well.
Overuse and Involuntary Movements
Recovery after a rotator cuff tear surgery can be tricky because our arms, hands, and shoulders are in constant use as we go about our daily lives. Because of the lengthy two month recovery period post-surgery, you run the risk of overusing your “good” arm and overloading it with work to accommodate for your injured arm. Some patients end up sustaining damage to the “good” arm resulting in another shoulder injury. Any tensing or flexing of your shoulder muscles should be minimized during the recovery period, but anytime you grasp or lift with your hands your muscles are being used. The muscles in our hands have involuntary urges to support one another when carrying and lifting so, when you pick up something with your “good” arm it can be almost impossible to repress the urge to tense and flex with your injured arm without constantly holding a tennis ball or similar object for a large part of your day.
Self Care and Dependency
There is no way you will recover from this surgery without extensive help. For at least two months you will need assistance with every movement including showering, dressing yourself, styling your hair, using the restroom and getting around. Expect to be heavily dependent on your designated helpers. You will also need to change your wardrobe for a while so, budget for the purchase of larger, roomy tops and shirts with buttons you can easily get in and out of.
Common across almost all patients who undergo rotator cuff tear surgery is a strong disdain for wearing the sling. Immediately following surgery, the sling is probably the most important device you need, but as time progresses, it can be difficult to keep wearing it day in and day out for two months. The skin covered by the sling can become dry and irritated causing a constant itching and uncomfortable sensation for the wearer.
You will need new sleeping arrangements for months after the surgery. Many patients are moderately comfortable sleeping in recliners in an upright position but the pain induced by the surgery leaves them battling insomnia and fitful sleep. Because of the pressure from weight distribution while we sleep and uncomfortable positioning it’s almost impossible to sleep following this surgery. Depending on your comfort level with medication, a sleeping aid may be prescribed.
All invasive surgeries carry serious risks up to including death. You run the risk of complications from the anesthesia and the risk of permanent nerve damage. Infection is also a common surgery risk. During rotator cuff surgery the deltoid muscle is detached to access the torn tendon, if this muscle is not reattached correctly, this could result in serious irreparable damage to your shoulder and chronic pain.
There are other options available to repair your rotator cuff tear that doesn’t involve all of the post-surgery complications listed above. Stem cell therapy treatments available are revolutionizing the way we approach joint injuries and changing the outcome for patients searching for solutions to their chronic pain. Autologous stem cell therapy treatments use your own cells to facilitate healing and regeneration of your damaged tendons, ligaments and muscles. Groundbreaking stem cell therapy treatments help your immune system to use natural growth factors and cytokines to repair your injury without the need for invasive surgery.
It’s important to know that surgery is not your only option for your rotator cuff tear. Exploring alternative treatments like stem cell therapy could save you months of painful recovery and a small fortune in operations costs.
Stem Cell The Magazine is a publication and stem cell therapy website that covers breaking news, patient interest topics, and all aspects of stem cell therapy to provide prospective patients with the resources they need to make informed decisions when it comes to their health and well-being.
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