T Nation

Any experiences with shoulder surgery?

As some of you may know from previous threads, I’ve been seeing an ART guy for many months now, due to shoulder impingement. He finally ordered an MRI, due to the fact that it didn’t seemed to be responding to treatment very well. The MRI showed bone spurs, bursitis and a minor tear of the supraspinatus. The ART guy (Level 3 – instructor) has pretty much said there’s nothing more he can do for me, and has referred me to a couple of surgeons. I’m wondering (A.) If any of you have had your shoulders scoped and/or a rotator cuff surgically repaired and (B.) what the results were in terms of recovery time and whether or not you were able to fully get back into heavy lifting again. I’ve heard some say that surgery can do more harm than good. Any insight? Thanks in advance.

In my case surgery did more good than harm. It depends on how bad your shoulder is and how good your surgeon is. My shoulder will never be what it was but 2 years later I am climbing 5.10, kayaking class 3 and lifting, I don’t use heavy weights but that isn’t really because of the shoulder, I’m just too thin.

It took me a couple of months before I could lift at all, my bench started with an empty bar and that hurt. I had a coworker who had his surgery a week after mine and he was doing one handed pushups after 3 weeks, on his post-op shoulder. He was also 10 years older than me. So it seems to be a pretty individual thing, or maybe I’m just a wuss.

Good luck with it.

ND, thanks for your reply. What did you have surgery for: torn rotator cuff, bone spurs, dislocated shoulder . . . ? Thanks again.

I had an arthritic impingement taken care of 4 or 5 years ago. Basically, they opened up the top of the shoulder and hacked off the end of the clavicle (and the accompanying bone spurs) in order to open up the space in the joint. It left a scar about four inches long on the top of my shoulder, and, if you look close, you can tell that the bony end of the clavicle isn’t there. (You need to make sure that they aren’t going cut into the ligament that attaches the clavicle to the rib cage, though, otherwise there’s nothing holding the clavicle down, and you’ll look really weird.)

My orthopedist does most of the surgery for the Washington Redskins, so I had a lot of confidence in him, and it was justified. I spent less than a week in a sling fulltime. After that I just used it when my shoulder felt tired. I was moving around with close to a full range of motion within a week, and actually was picking up moving boxes within two weeks. Like any surgery, it was painful for a few days, but even that was a great improvement over where I had been. Before I had the surgery, it hurt like heck just to turn the [power] steering wheel to the right (i.e., pushing across the chest with my left arm) when I was driving.


My (never really impressive) bench has improved since then, so you probably shouldn’t sweat the surgery too much. Go talk to an orthopedic surgeon, maybe two or three, who specializes in athletes and see what he/she has to say.

Thanks Porkchop. I’m seeing a surgeon on Tuesday. Did you have a cuff tear also? Just curious. Thanks again.

I’ve had total reconstructive shoulder surgery due to chronic disocations. When they did the surgery, they found my front delt was totally torn and I had severely stretched and damaged my rotator cuff. I also had bone spurs. Six months later I was fully released from the doctor. I felt I was ready after four months, but that is a different story. The main thing is to go all out on your rehab. You have to rehab aggessively and stretch like a madman. Sometimes the stretching hurt more than the dislocations, but I had to tear the scar tissue to get my range of motion back. My surgically repaired shoulder is now stronger than my other, and I don’t even know I had surgery except for the scar. One arm is now an inch and a half shorter than the other. lol. It doesn’t seem to affect my bench though.

No, I didn’t have a cuff tear. The problem was that the arthritic spurs on the bottom of the acromion were digging into the cuff pretty much any time I moved in any direction, but especially when I moved my arm across my chest.

Listen bro, If you have a partial tear of that rotator cuff tendon, go get prolotherapy from an experienced doctor, this will treat the tendon and repair it without surgery. As for the bone spurs, some people find that after the tendon has healed, that they no longer need surgery to remove the spurs because they are in no pain. I’ve had shoulder surgery for dislocation on one shoulder and prolotherapy for dislocation and supraspinatus on my other arm. Take if from me, prolotherapy is a lot better and safer than the knife!

Thanks guys. And I am going to look into the prolotherapy (which I had asked about in a previous thread) before I go through with surgery of any kind.