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Old 12-20-2009   #11
BackCountry's Avatar
Gunnison, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1970
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 86
My recommendation is to save surgery for a last resort. I have known too many people who have gone that rout and been worse off after the surgery than before. Several have been permanently disabled after their rotator cuff surgery. No matter what, the injury will never heal to the point it was before it got torn. Exhaust all other options before letting someone cut into you. Get multiple opinions first and then research the best surgeon in that field. Go with the best no matter the cost or the distance you need to travel. If someone is going to cut into you, you may only get one chance at fixing the problem.

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Old 12-20-2009   #12
Charleston & Medford, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1970
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 5
Having done the same thing and fracturing my roto cuff 22 years ago I first went to The Seattle Sports Ctn for their opinion and they said they would rather not do the surgery because I would not be able to raise my left arm above my shoulder. The same thing ten years older here in Oregon. My wife got me a rowing machine to exercise and I use it for 10 minutes most mornings. I raft more than kayak today, changed from hard shell to an Aire Force, and still have fun on the river. My doctors suggestion is due the surgery when I'm 85. Most boaters I know have a remarkable tolerance for pain. You'll be just fine.

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Old 12-27-2009   #13
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 13
Shoulder-- If you need surgery...

I know what you're going through-been there.

Had a torn one that showed as needing repair after an MRI, and evaluations -not a candidate for healing or strengthening due to extent of the tear. I did some research and went to see Dr Abbott who works in Vail and Frisco. He is regarded by many as the best shoulder surgeon in the state. I asked him how many cuff surgeries he had done. Doc replied at that time it had been several hundred with the scope, after they no longer did much open surgery. During the surgery he found a worse tear than the MRI indicated-but he and his PA Doug hung in and got it all put back together. They were very strict about limiting use until the repair has time to gain strength. Listen to this advice carefully, cause you will not want to repeat the kind of pain that you'll have when the anesthetic wears off!

A year later after PT and continuing use of the bands it was hard to remember that it happened when using the shoulder. Can't say enough good about Doc Abbott, or Michele at Salida PT, who followed through with range-of-motion and strength building. PT is as important as the surgery.

It isn't cheap. It is key to have good insurance that will take the big hit. I had just gotten on with Rocky Mountain Health Plans several months before-good company, a non-profit covering Colorado residents.

During the off-time I was able to hoof it up fourteeners by slinging a pack diagonally over the good shoulder and using a ski pole in the good arm for support, with the other arm in a sling.

The bands are great for prevention-and rehab after a repair or strain. I like the ones with a few different bands that can be clipped to handles, and a loop of webbing/knot at the center that can be locked into a closed door.

I hope your shoulder doesn't need surgery-


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