The Prospect of Getting Surgery   1 comment

I re-dislocated my shoulder twice. This happened on July 11th when I was swinging my right arm at the bugs crowding outside the house front door. One forceful swing and I managed to partially dislocate my shoulder. It was the same familiar pain with the same instinctive actions of placing my right arm over my head with my left arm and pulling slowly until my shoulder eased in to place. I did a few bouts of shoulder exercises for both arms to re-strengthen my rotator-cuff muscles. It happened again on August 16th. I just got out of the shower and was putting on a T-shirt. When I was putting my right arm through the right arm hole of the T-shirt, I think my right hand was caught in between the shirt. I say “I think” because I’ve put on a t-shirt countless times without minding it and always followed through with my hind limbs and elbows, guiding the forearms in navigating through the shirt. This extended my weak shoulder to its stress point and I partially dislocated my shoulder again.

On a scale from 1-10, the pain was a 7: less severe compared to the first time I had my dislocation, but painful nonetheless. Pain is relatively subjective. In fact, I would argue that it’s just as painful as before. My body has just adapted to it and is more quickly able to release adrenaline to stop me from fainting due to the pain. There’s also the fact that numerous dislocations (5 now) have weakened my shoulder muscles altogether. I had to schedule another visit to the shoulder doctor.

The doctor performed stress tests on both arms. Overall, my rotator-cuff muscles are strong, except for my right shoulder when my arm is extending backwards. I could feel like it would pop out again. The doctor put pressure on my right upper arm as he manuevers my lower arm, slowly twisting it backwards to see where the stress point is. With the applied pressure, there was no discomfort on my shoulder. He wanted an MRI scan to see where the problem is. I had my scans done 3 days after and did the follow-up this morning.

Him and his diagnostic team concluded that there’s a muscle tear near the tendon where the rotator-cuff and chest muscles meet. There was also fluid build up between the humerus socket. The MRI is not as clear how small or deep the cut is. The doctor said if it was a tendon, it would be clear-cut on what needs to be done. Since this is muscle near tendon, you can’t really just sew it up. Muscle tears heal on itself. Depending on how often I do physical therapy and if there are recurring dislocations, I might need surgery after all.

the real-life pictures of this surgery are more gruesome

the real-life pictures of this surgery are more gruesome

It’s up to me whether I would do the surgery or not. I can continue with my shoulder exercises and sign up for more physical therapy sessions. I could go with the surgery and have the doctor, who is actually an orthopedic surgeon, explore the muscle tear, fix it up and see of any other damage to the rotator-cuff unseen in the MRI scans. I would have to wear a sling for my arm for 4-5 weeks. Based on what he said, it looks like he’ll be doing  a shoulder arthroscopy. He’ll do a small incision on my shoulder and insert a small camera to examine and/or repair the tissues inside or around the shoulder joint.  I haven’t decided yet. I’m looking at all possible options. His secretary will contact me soon for my decision.

This isn’t my first time under the knife. I had my wisdom teeth removed when I was in junior year high school. That wasn’t as scary as the idea of getting surgery for my shoulder. There’s a small risk of infection of 3-5% for small incisions. If there is further damage, they might do open surgery with large incisions. With the new techniques available now, there’s an 8-10% chance of infection. I’m not sure about those risks. A surgery will only repair the damage. It’s up to me to take care of my shoulder from this point on. strenuous heavy lifting is definitely out of the question. Handstands are out of the picture. I have to be mindful of where my arm is and how it is positioned when I’m lying down, sitting, walking, running and other activities.

My best option at the moment is to rebuild my shoulder muscles through therapy and rest. I don’t know. I’m just scared.

I’m done.


One response to “The Prospect of Getting Surgery

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  1. It seems like therapy would be just as effective at the moment. I’d say give the therapy a shot first.

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