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Shoulders repair

Morris Arthur
09/07/16 #19895

I've been notified of complete or “high-grade” tears in most of my rotator-cuff tendons (left and right). The physical therapist and the orthopedist (Oswin) says I should get'em repaired (arthroscopically).

Does anyone have any comments or opinions (of course you do !) about shoulder surgery or recovery?

Thanks (and I might see you on the water in a year :)


Dale McKinnon
09/07/16 #19896

Sorry to hear this Morris! But I think you'll be back before a year…


09/07/16 #19897

Don't rush into it. If you can still raise your arm up and high– therapy If it's (Various muscles and tendons not completely severed ) then you may work it back
Tom P could give you a good story. And I thought you were superman. Dang

Michael Gregory
09/07/16 #19898


  • High-grade tears often progress to complete tears without repair. However, often even excellent repairs may relieve pain but, not restore function:(
  • If you have had a solid 12 weeks of PT and still have dysfunction and pain, then arthroscopic repair might be reasonable.
  • I presume, you have had MR and radiologist/ortho read as high grade tears, right?
  • Best course is to pursue second opinion. Find the surgeon that has done and is doing the most repairs and make an appointment. The images will be read again (a good thing) and you will get opinion from a guy with great depth of experience.
  • Then, make your decision.
  • I doubt that he would mind but, one of our paddling friends, Shaun K, has been through similar problems. You might discuss with him.

Much Sympathy, Mike.

J.N. Zeegers
09/07/16 #19900

Sorry, no opinions from me, just wish you didn't have to go through this.

Hope it all goes well, and you're back to being on the water soon.


Brandon Nelson

09/07/16 #19901

Hi Morris,
Sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but no doubt you'll make a full recovery.

I've had shoulder surgery, an “Open Bankart Repair.” Labrum tore off after 2 dislocations, bone chips floating around, etc. So I have a 4“ incision on the front of my shoulder, they re-attached the labrum with an eye-screw and thread, vacuum'd out the chips and such, and sewed it back up. I opted for a full incision versus arthroscopy because, at the time (1995) it had a better success rate. I rehabbed it very diligently and carefully, and was paddling Class V again within 6 months. (I was careful, took it slow, made sure it was bombproof.) It probably helped that I was 23 years old at the time… so it might take a little longer now. But it was a 100% full recovery, and to this day I have no pain or tightness or any lingering effects from the surgery.

All that being said, nowadays I would give Brad Jones (rolfer), Carolyn Watson (pilates, acupuncture, overall-healing-badass), a chiropractor (Chris Lockwood, etc.)… all a try before surgery.

I'm in the midst of dealing with sciatica right now, taking a break from the surfski and enjoying swimming as my main exercise. So, like you, my paddling goals don't start up again til 2017. Between now and then is all about therapy, flexibility, healing and strengthening.

Good luck Morris!! Give me a shout if you want.

Reivers Dustin

09/07/16 #19902

what a topic. With my drunk biker bonk I learned how weird the shoulder joint is. No surgery was ever done. My doc (Hoekema) had to explain how stupidly lucky I was and his main effort was to finally get me to realize that I needed to diligently apply UNLOADED full range of motion. For six months. Twice daily. That included not dressing myself, never lift anything with that arm, including the arm itself.

I used Performance PT: Ted Molaski. It was a fight to get Ted and he was good. One of his best things was physical manipulation because there was a threat of incorrect attachments (“frozen shoulder”).

I know there are now tears and other problems. But this isn't like automechanics. I continue light resistance - full range of motion work. In my opinion nothing offers full recovery. There was a Chinese Physician in town that used to work with the Sehome Gymnastic program. His results were amazing, but the sports physicians at UW hated it when kids in their program would get work done and I believe this guy was finally shut down. He did my blown up ankle and it was a miracle.

Another source of information is “Tendon & Ligament Healing”, William Weintraub. This talks about healing process for harder tissues and offers some hope, but the book is too technical for me. It does point to the value of people like Caroline Watson who have success with non-surgical methods. You are welcome to borrow my copy of the book.


09/07/16 #19903

Morris, miss seeing both you and Debbie on the water. I would only add my endorsement of Oswin who did a full rotator cuff surgery last year on my wife. She has recovered complete range of motion, but patience is needed to recover full strength. Your base is significantly greater than hers and your procedure is arthroscopic , so your progress and outcomes will likely be much better. Still, be patient.


Rick Lingbloom
09/07/16 #19904

Ditto Marc … my wife had frozen shoulder repair after 12 weeks of PT. Long recovery but doing well now. Oswin seems to be the man when it comes to shoulders.

09/07/16 #19905

Morris, I had partial tear of supraspinatus (labrum ?) surgery 3 years ago. arthroscopic was not an option. Too far gone. Dr. Thorpe did surgery. For several years before I had surgery I had a lot of pain and tried to “Buck it up and be a big boy” I had frayed the labrum from over use,and poor paddling mechanics. At the time there was nothing they could do except lots of physical therapy, Darrell Smith at Bellingham P T . Left Shoulder finally let go. they sewed it back together and sent me home with a big bottle of pain killer. Not big enough. this is when the pain really kicked in. make sure you have a very comfy easy chair because you will use it. After a couple of weeks of sleeping sitting upright I started to feel recovery was beginning. Stay diligent in the exercises,lots of stretching. lifting arms above head. I had a pully contraption to help lift.

Be patient. Took about six months before I was able to get in a boat, about ten months to gain my strength back. My range of motion is not what it use to be but it is acceptable. I was 62 when I had surgery so my healing time was probably longer than yours will be.
Good Luck, and we will all be looking forward to see you on the water next year. Thom

09/08/16 #19906

OK, I will join the fun with one more data point for your consideration. Matt Oswin does not always try to sell his services like some less reputable surgeons are known to do. I have torn off the back half of my labrum, but Matt does not recommend surgery as he doesn't think there is much chance of improvement. He basically said I need to get my coffee cups down with the other hand and let everyone pass me on Wednesday nights.

Good luck.

David Scherrer
09/08/16 #19907


We can plainly see that you did not take the good doctors advise.


John Rybczyk
09/08/16 #19908

What I plainly see from these many replies is that we are all falling apart! Admittedly, I did not suspect it of Morris as I always believed he was originally from the planet Krypton.


09/08/16 #19909

What do they know?

Rick Lingbloom
09/08/16 #19910

Better than discussing colonoscopies I guess!

Chris Ohana
09/08/16 #19912

I had AC joint repair ( a “Mumford procedure”) and rotator cuff repair on Jan 7. I was paddling (very tentatively) by the end of March.I can now swim, paddle without pain although I still have certain movements that make my shoulder angry. Some lingering weakness. It can take 9-12 months for full recovery but my surgery went really well and I have been back at all my favorite activities for quite a while. Lifting a martini glass came back very quickly.

I sent you a private message with more detail but the basic comment is to get a second opinion, preferably from a shoulder specialist. It is a tricky joint. I recommend Dr Peterson in Seattle. Ted Molaski is a great contact as a physical therapist but he can be hard to schedule.


If you have a strong stomach, these two videos give you a sense of what will happen. This is why you need a second opinion:

Rotator Cuff Repair Surgery | Ohio State Sports Medicine

Arthroscopic Distal Clavicle Resection (Mumford Procedure)

09/15/16 #19931

Go with Oswins diagnosis. He is excellent, trust him. He called off a scheduled surgery for me for a 50% rupture of the distal biceps tendon, and hit it right; if he has to go in, he will also hit it right.

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