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Labral tear , rotator cuff tear

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Six weeks after a fall at work, I finally sought medical attention due to increasing pain in my left shoulder, gradual onset. Over time it became progressively worse. I'm female, 51, in good health, normal weight, no history of shoulder injuries before the one that just happened.

Weird thing is, although I knew I'd probably stretched something in my shoulder, it wasn't really painful when I fell (I'm a veterinary technician, was pulled hard by a large dog while walking it to front lobby). I'm right-handed, and was holding the leash in my right hand with my left hand on the collar to keep the dog close to me (a German Shepherd that did not know how to walk on a leash). When I hit the floor, I was nearly face-down, with my arm extended out--if I'd been standing, it would have looked as though I'd been reaching overhead. I really tried to play it down at the time because I didn't want the dog's owner to feel any worse than he did...(but I do hope that dog goes to obedience school!)

At the time I was mainly relieved that I didn't smash my face into something or plow though a window when I fell. I remember saying something along the lines of "well, THAT probably wasn't good for my shoulder!"...but I had no idea what had happened at that time or how bad it would become.

At this point my range of motion is terrible. There is pain in the very front of the shoulder of a stretching variety, and frequent toothache-type pain that runs down that arm. The pain reminds me a lot of sciatica, only in the shoulder instead of the hip. Sometimes I can feel it in the shoulder blade area as well. If there is anything I'm grateful for, it's that at least it isn't my dominant side that was injured, or I'd be out of work for certain.

It's now 12 weeks post-fall and I'm scheduled for surgery two weeks from now...after an MRI study revealed a bit of wreckage. I was immediately referred to an orthopedic specialist, who explained the nature of the problem and why things need to be fastened back down. At first I freaked out because even though my shoulder hurt, it was hard to believe how substantial the injury was. Now I certainly do believe I've got a mess going on in that poor shoulder. It's gotten to the point where I'm looking forward to getting this thing repaired.

Supposedly the labral injury (a SLAP tear) is a bigger problem than the rotator cuff...because the rotator cuff tear is only partial thickness. There is a minute amount of arthritis in that shoulder, and I assume it was already there when I was hurt. It never caused any sort of pain, however, and I think it was probably just an incidental finding on the MRI. The report stated that there was severe tendinopathy, which seemed extreme at the time of the MRI, considering that the pain wasn't all that severe even six weeks out. If I were to have an MRI done now, I can only imagine what it would look like. This being said, I really miss being able to do normal daily activities. I'm no stranger to pain (I have plantar fasciitis and Dupuytren's contracture), but those conditions are more of an annoyance, and not disabling. I miss my left arm!

What I am wondering is, how many people out there with this sort of injury had practically no pain right after the injury, but found themselves in misery months later? I am still working, though on modified duty. This is being handled by worker's comp (no question as to how my shoulder got this way!)...I know I am in for a long recovery, I suppose.

If anyone has any tips for how they coped prior to surgery (and afterward, for that matter) I'd be grateful!
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First Helper kittencharmer
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replied July 13th, 2009
As as I tore my Labrum playing V-Ball I went straight to the ground in pain. I gave it a couple of months to get better and it got a little better but not enough. Had the nerve block during surgery and I am 9 weeks post-op and the shoulder feels pretty good. Am having problems with pain,swellin and numbness in the fingers. Have you had any problems
?
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replied October 27th, 2010
rotator cuff and two other tears of my arm
I tripped on a piece of metal that was raised between a floor and the carpet in the bank.. I fell face down and fractured my nose. I have been treated for this and unfortunately there is no happy ending since i broke the vessels around my eyes (I have permanent black/brown around both my eyes). I had no idea I had injured my shoulder since I was on oxycontin and injections for a previous back injury. However the pain in my shoulder and arm has become totally unbearable and after seen by an ortho he suggested surgery. I can't even put a bra on without outrageous pain. I have not been able to sleep since June even with pain pills and ambien. This is the worse pain I have ever felt and I have a VERY high pain tolerance. I walked around with a broken arm for 2 weeks 8 years ago and finally went to the Dr which showed a break. I am afraid that the surgery will not rid me of this HORRIBLE HORRIBLE pain!! HELP with any advice. billie
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replied October 28th, 2010
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Hi greekgirl11 and welcome to ehealth: Have the surgery...If you don't you could live in pain the rest of your life...My husband fell on the ice years ago and tore his Rotator Cuff...For two years he held off having the surgery...By the time he finally gave in it was so sore that they had to put him on Valium so that they could do the MRI's...It is a rough surgery and the recovery is not the easiest...But, have it done...Be prepared to need help, but through this ordeal remember that despite the pain that you will again be well...

I want to add one thing...If you are able to get one of those lay back chairs that go to a full sleeping position get one for this surgery....You are pretty helpless and my husband slept in this for a couple of weeks...This brings up back up to a full standing position where you don't need your shoulder....If I can answer any questions, please advise...Take care...

Caroline
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replied June 14th, 2013
I had surgery 5 weeks ago. I had a severe tear in my rotator cuff (well over 50%) and a large labral tear. I fell on some ice and felt some pain but not much at first, I thought I had bruised it. It got worse every week and after two and a half months I got an MRI when I woke up for the third night in a row screaming. I had the most extensive damage they had ever seen at that hospital which happens to be an orthopedic surgery hospital specializing in these injuries. I thought it was strange that I felt very little pain for so long considering the extreme damage. I got 4 anchors in my labrum and 2 in my rotator cuff and got everything sutured up. It is the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life. I had to stay in the hospital over night because my pain couldn't be controlled even though I had a nerve block tube in my neck for a week. It gets better but I was completely helpless for a couple weeks. Having a recliner and a ton of pillows is a must. I get to start physical therapy actively in two weeks but for now I am still only doing passive motion. I have heard that some people get a special chair for rehab though. When I fell I injured the other shoulder as well but didn't start to feel the pain until I began to use it more and more when my right arm was in a sling. I got an MRI and I have a tear in the left shoulder as well but I have to wait for the right shoulder to heal to get the other surgery. After going going through one, I'm not sure i can handle another! Has anyone ever had labral and rotator cuff tears in both shoulders? Advice? I have bursitis in my left shoulder as well and at higher risk for frozen shoulder because of my diabetes so I am not sure what I should do.
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replied November 14th, 2013
Hi Emaleejene, I am 62 and had surgery on 2nd of Sept.2013 for torn left shoulder supraspinatus tear, just 2.5 years after biceps tenodesis on same shoulder. Also had superior labrum debrided this time as it was frayed. Like you I also have four anchors in my shoulder with cross sutures to keep tendon down to bone. The rotator cuff is healing well but the pain from the superior labrum still comes and goes. Surgeon says it will take 6-8 months for complete shoulder healing. As I was very fit going into surgery I hope to do it in 6 mths. Finally off pain killers and getting good results with acupuncture/remedial massage/chiro (for rebalance). Back at work doing limited hours. Sorry to hear that you have to have more surgery. I suggest you try some acupuncture and massage to speed up healing. Drop me a reply if you need more information regarding natural healing.
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replied June 17th, 2013
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emaleejene wrote:
I had surgery 5 weeks ago. I had a severe tear in my rotator cuff (well over 50%) and a large labral tear. I fell on some ice and felt some pain but not much at first, I thought I had bruised it. It got worse every week and after two and a half months I got an MRI when I woke up for the third night in a row screaming. I had the most extensive damage they had ever seen at that hospital which happens to be an orthopedic surgery hospital specializing in these injuries. I thought it was strange that I felt very little pain for so long considering the extreme damage. I got 4 anchors in my labrum and 2 in my rotator cuff and got everything sutured up. It is the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life. I had to stay in the hospital over night because my pain couldn't be controlled even though I had a nerve block tube in my neck for a week. It gets better but I was completely helpless for a couple weeks. Having a recliner and a ton of pillows is a must. I get to start physical therapy actively in two weeks but for now I am still only doing passive motion. I have heard that some people get a special chair for rehab though. When I fell I injured the other shoulder as well but didn't start to feel the pain until I began to use it more and more when my right arm was in a sling. I got an MRI and I have a tear in the left shoulder as well but I have to wait for the right shoulder to heal to get the other surgery. After going going through one, I'm not sure i can handle another! Has anyone ever had labral and rotator cuff tears in both shoulders? Advice? I have bursitis in my left shoulder as well and at higher risk for frozen shoulder because of my diabetes so I am not sure what I should do.


Hi emaleejene: Shoulders can be terrible...I know as my husband had surgery on both...One is now pretty good but the other a problem...I tore a muscle in my left getting up from a high back seat at a dining establishment...To make it worse I cannot have the surgery as I need the arm to get up from a sitting position...I live with it...

My husband, too, went through the pain you are having...He, too, has the anchors...It was a rough surgery...If I may make one suggestion is would be a lift chair...They are very comfortable and bring your body to a near standing position...A good one will also recline back to the position where you can sleep in them when the need arises...They are expensive, like $1500, but worth every penny...We have four of them in various rooms in our house...One new and three for the last five years with no problems...So they are solidly made...My husband told me to tell you to do the itsy bitsy spider exercise going up the way as you heal...Take it in small steps...Do what you can, but force yourself...

Good luck and if I can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to ask...My best to you....Take care...

Caroline...
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replied September 7th, 2013
I am 55 years old and had a SLAP tear in left shoulder. Doc said it was a little worse than he thought and took an extra 10 min. of surgery. I am amazed at how well my recovery has been. It has been three weeks since surgery August 15th.
The hardest part of the surgery is having to sleep in a lounge chair especially with my back problems (spinal stenosis}. I thought I'd have a hard time since I haven't done any exercise in over a year.
I have taken my sling off for the past two days and feel better moving it around. I must say doc told me to leave it on for four weeks so I will alternate off and on. As long as I keep my arm in front of my body I'm fine. I am so happy that I had this surgery. I got completely off the percocete in two weeks and take 800 mg. of Ibuprofen when needed. I am still sore but I can feel the recovery happening day by day.
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