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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Unhappy fully torn rotator cuff

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    Great. Home with the flu and ortho doc calls to tell me, based on the MRI done last week, my right rotator cuff is fully torn and that means surgery on April 5, followed by 6 weeks in a sling, 3 months of rehab, and total of 6 months before resuming all activities.

    Well, there goes the season. (Chomp, chomp, that's me eating worms.)

    Anybody out there with experience this this?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    around Seattle, WA
    I've just suffered with muscle stiffness in my shoulder to the point of needing PT, so can only imagine. Here's some good healing juju.

    Hope you and your shoulder get to be friends again soon.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Melbourne, Australia
    Not a rotator cuff but a broken shoulder.

    They say 6 weeks in a sling, but they then told me after 3 weeks to take the sling off occassionally to stop the elbow freezing up.

    As for 6 months of no cycling well- you can certainly get on a windtrainer early- I did it in a sling after 2 weeks!

    I was lucky to have a tandem so after 4 months I was riding the tandem (it's good as I could rest my arm).

    However don't rush things and let it heal properly or it won't be right. You can certainly use your legs so fitness wise there's nothing stopping you windtraining, spin classes, walking and even light jogging when you feel comfortable.

    Also I know it's not nice to be off the bike, but you can also use your injury time to help out in the cycling world- be a supporter, turn up for coffee with your normal group, volunteer at races etc. Yes it sucks to stand and watch others but by yelling and supporting your friends you will still feel in touch and not left out, and you will find there's nothing like other cyclists to give you support through this time as well- they have most likely been there too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Katy, Texas
    had a partially torn rotator cuff about 8 years ago but it was before I rode or did any training. I escaped surgery but went through a lot of cortisone shots and weeks of PT. It takes time and patience. Hang in there and enjoy the pain meds. Don't do things you shouldn't and figure youo will be stronger and riding in less pain when it all is all over.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    I've torn mine 3x! only had surgery the second time.
    Do the rehab!!!!
    I ride a recumbent bike, and the last time (no surgery), I got back on the bike early, just left the rear in the middle and used the big chainring - awkward, but it worked.
    Did I mention - DO THE REHAB
    It's a pain, in many ways, but skipping on it at all will mean years of either having limited motion or making up for missed rehab.
    Good luck.
    My photoblog
    Bacchetta Giro (recumbent commuter)
    Bacchetta Corsa (recumbent "fast" bike)
    Greespeed X3 (recumbent "just for fun" trike)
    Strada Velomobile
    I will never buy another bike!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Not the rotator cuff, but crashed doing my century last fall. http://forums.teamestrogen.com/showt...=century+crash

    Seperated acl, ortho didn't op, so I'm uneven and not right still. Permanently impaired... in his words. Yep, pt, no riding, still got my extra pounds while rehabing... and some permanent damage to my vision (went head first over the bars--dog related). Been 6mos, and my I'm still weak and tight. But, I can sleep on that side now, so yeah. Had other events I had pre-paid my $ for. Couldn't do any of them.

    I am so sorry for you. It does really suck.

    But... you can't leave it un-fixed. So, try best you can to focus it is a temporary thing, and your next season after that will be even better.

    As you get stronger after surgery, and feel like getting out, can you try to help out your bike club if you have one... in a non-riding way? We need volunteers for all kinds of things. At least you would be around the group, if you have one. My riding partner also kept me posted upon my request of how her rides were going. Thus, I kinda rode her miles vicariously. FWIW.

    Hope you heal well. Don't make the mistake of doing what you are not suppose to before the doc and pt tell you. It will only delay the process.

    Good Luck (((soft hugs))).

    p.s. non-bike crash related, my mom had rotary cuff repair on one side, and part of her pec muscle removed a few weeks later when her mammo revealed that her breast ca had come back on the opposite side for her second masectomy... both sides messed up (especially as a stomach sleeper) were a living hell for a while... but she did fully recover... and without professional pt... home exercise program from her ortho... no matter how much they hurt... she did them religiously... key reason she got better... so time does heal a lot of things.
    Last edited by Miranda; 03-11-2010 at 04:32 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    I had a bone spur that ended up causing a total frozen shoulder before it was diagnosed. I did 2 months of PT and 2 cortisone shots but it kept getting worse so they finally sent me for MRI which showed the bone spur digging into the RC tendons. It wasn't torn but very close. I couldn't schedule the surgery fast enough.

    I am now almost 16 weeks post surgery (open A/C decompression), am still in PT 3x/week but have made tremendous progress, and almost have full use of my arm now. It's been a very hard process to "thaw" out the frozen shoulder. In addition to the PT, I've done almost the full program of exercises and stretches EVERY DAY for 6 months, an hour a day. If I weren't seeing progress I probably would be skipping days but I want it totally healed so I make the time to do it.

    Ultimately it will be all better, and hopefully before the other one starts to go bad. The good part is that my orthopedic surgeon, his PA, and my PT are all cyclists, so they understand.

    My advice is to try to move the surgery up if at all possible. Take the drugs - they give them to you for a reason. And do the PT and home exercises. And see if they recommend you do any exercises to strengthen your shoulders and arms BEFORE the surgery. You will be glad you did (if you can).

    I was in a sling for about a week, and icepacks on/off several times a day for several weeks. I was able to drive in a week or so but it was not easy one-handed. Nothing was easy the first month or so after surgery, and even though they manipulated my shoulder, and removed the spur, it wasn't until I got the 3rd cortisone shot a month after the surgery before I started to make any improvement.

    Fill up the freezer with easy to nuke meals - cooking was very hard for that first month, as was washing and drying my hair and a host of so many other little things that we just never even think about. Oh, and sleeping was brutal for the 2 months or so both before and after the surgery. My recliner chair became my best friend. If you don't already have one, you might try to borrow or buy one. I slept many many nights (and afternoons) in the recliner.

    My last real bike rides were in October. Since then I've ridden about 26 miles. Just as I was approaching being able to support my weight on the bike the weather went crazy and it's been nothing but rain, snow, wind, cold, or floods. Hoping to get back into this properly next week when daylight savings time begins.

    Good luck, and let us know how you make out.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Appling, GA
    No experience with a rotator cuff injury except w/ non-riding friends and family.

    Several years ago my husband had a bad motocross accident. Broken collar bone, bad concussion (w/bleeding but he recovered), his leg was paralyzed from the knee down and he was just generally beat up. His ortho for this episode specialized in traumatic injuries. He only cared about getting my husband functional as opposed to our experiences with orthos who specialize in sports medicine. They try to get you back to your sport asap.

    With two boys and an active husband, our family has been to the sports medicine clinic numerous times. The times we have gone the other route have been very frustrating.

    I have shared this on another thread but;
    For his MX injury, my husband took his recovery on himself. He was on his spin bike w/in 3 weeks. Used one arm and clipped in so that his dead leg spun around with his good one. Within 3 months he started weight training. He knitted back together fast for a 48 year old.

    I know broken collar bones are quite a bit different than torn rotator cuffs for recovery but my point is you may consider switching to a sports medicine specialist if you are not already seeing one. Their recovery philosophy can make a huge difference in how quickly you are encouraged to resume your sport and they set a higher standard for the functionality of your end results.

    Wishing you the best in your recovery.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    I'm so very sorry. I had the rotator cuff surgery on my R shoulder in '06. What you've been told about your rehab is pretty much exactly what I went thru. Surgery was early May. My 1st bike ride was, I think, August. What Kiwi said was correct. Wear your sling 24/7, showers the only time you take it off. This prevents that arm from pushing, pulling or lifting. My ortho said if I didn't rest in those first critical wks. I'd possibly pull out the anchors. I got a shoulder specialist PT rx. from the ortho.,started PT before the surg., went 2X a wk. @ first, & did the exercises religiously, sometimes 2X/day....do whatev your PT recommends. My PT also told me not to stop my weights, that doing them on my good side conferred a 10% benefit in strength to my healing R side. Then after some wks. I asked my spin instructor if he'd allow me to the class wearing a sling...so I did that. Very carefully. When I got the ok to do charity rides & the like (in aug.) I purposely stayed WAY back at the start. To fall off the bike would have been potentially disastrous. Also, I could not do the full 40 mi....my shoulder began to ache & I did NOT push it. Got my H to pick me up.
    Being careful but being active, doing the PT, being patient...that's what it takes...after 1 yr. I had to get an independent eval. of my shoulder function (insurance BS) & that ortho. told me he'd never seen such a good outcome from that surgery as I'd had.
    Good luck to you!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by shewhobikes View Post
    Great. Home with the flu and ortho doc calls to tell me, based on the MRI done last week, my right rotator cuff is fully torn and that means surgery on April 5, followed by 6 weeks in a sling, 3 months of rehab, and total of 6 months before resuming all activities.

    Well, there goes the season. (Chomp, chomp, that's me eating worms.)

    Anybody out there with experience this this?

    More experience than I would like!

    In 2004 I had my left rotator cuff surgically repaired, a complete tear that was according to my physician a very bad tear. Initial 3 months p/t 2-3 x week, then 3 months roughly 1xweek. I recovered fully, but 6 years later am not happy with the scar tissue, pains, etc.

    However, I am much less happy with my presently torn Right rotator cuff. I tore it in a skiing accident in 2006. An mri confirmed a complete tear, although the ortho doc (same one that did my left repair) said it didn't appear to be as bad as my left.

    It should tell you something about the pain, the rehab and the end result of my left repair that I have not done my right.

    I truly am not saying that 'cause I'm suggesting that for you, I'm not. But, knowing what I know now about end result I'm not doing it until I have to. I do exercises, yoga, weight training all which keep my right shoulder in as good a shape as it can be, given the tear. Occasionally I have fairly bad pain but it generally goes away within a week.

    Also, I had a great physician, does many, many surgeries on star college athletes, so he knew his stuff. At my age, 55, and with scar tissue, arthritis, and the fact that on some days my repaired shoulder hurts worse than my still torn one, that keeps me out of the O.R.

    Again, you're different, just my 2 cents.

    Good Luck,

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been."


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2005


    Knew I'd get lots of good feedback here...
    OK, so do the rehab (and do some strenghtening in advance if I can). Find cardio I can do (walk, spin). Be patient. Stock freezer. Volunteer/support cycling events to stay in touch and help out.
    Deal! Thanks, and I will keep all of you posted!
    Oh...and I'd love to move surgery up, but I like this doc and he's out for several weeks so 4/5 is early as we can manage.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Folsom CA
    Best wishes for a fast recovery, Shew!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    No experience with this but I will send you a gentle hug!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    N. California
    Ouch ouch OUCH!!!
    Be yourself, to the extreme!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    That sounds like an experience that I don't want. Take good care of that shoulder, and good luck with the surgery!



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