T Nation

Shoulder Surgery

I’m considering undergoing shoulder surgery. No other therapeutic modality has helped at this point. My question is for all those that have had surgery. Have you been able to return to your training afterwards or did the surgery not really help? I have yet to meet someone who has had shoulder surgery that has anything good to say and am hoping to hear from more active people like myself. The last thing I want is anything to inhibit my fitness lifestyle - I can deal with the chronic dislocation if I have to. Any input would be appreciated!

hey buddy,

i’m not sure of your specific injury, but i am undergoing a treatment for an injury i sustained throwing baseball. i’ve got an AC sprain, impingement of supraspinatus and some myofascitis all chronic (over a year and a half specifically). like you nothing worked, i went to a sports med guy, did a couple rounds of NSAIDs and PT as well as a couple Chiros. there’s not even a chiro at my school that could do anything other than stretch it.

anyway, i’m undergoing Graston therapy which is similar to Active Release that T-mag always talks about, except Graston uses steel instruments in order to find adhesions and scar tissue through vibration, then uses the instruments to break up these adhesions. after only 3 treatments my increased ROM and decrease in pain is incredible. the doctor says that he feels that the “gristle” has decreased by around 50%. he says he can fix me totally. with a few more treatments, i should be benching again.

i highly recommend this or active release if you haven’t already tried it. go to a provider and see if they can help you, they’ll be straight up honest with ya. try grastontechnique.com to find a local care giver.

Don’t wish to hijack your thread, but I second your concerns. I was diagnosed in early summer with a full thickness tear of my left supraspinatus, and the pain is so inhibiting that I can’t even shoulder a bar for squats (I’ve been using a Safety Squat bar, but it just isn’t the same). It’s gotten marginally better over the summer, but I’m afraid of having to live with these limitations forever. But I’m reticent to okay the surgery the doctor recommended…like you, I’ve never seen anyone do it and come back 100%. Instead, most of the lifters I know who did it have resorted to alot of high rep/low weight work and supplement with aerobics…certainly not the kind of training they did pre-injury.

I feel your pain, man…

Yeah, I’ve had my share of injuries but the shoulders are by far the worst. Just staying away from being active kills me.

I’ve tried ART and I think it was more the massage / rest that helped more than the technique. But the dislocations keep coming.

I’d buy a new shoulder if anyone’s selling…

If you are gonna get surgury i’d advise going to a doc that does a lot of athletes. Pro baseball players have shoulder surgury like it was nothing…most are ready for next season. So somebody is doing the operation correctly, if it comes down to it, find one of those docs and see if they can do your operation or can recomend someone.

Steroids could help. Nandrolone in particular is noted for relieving joint pains allowing you to work out with less pain. And they could help minimize atrophy due to a prolonged layoff.
That is, if you dont’ have a problem using them.

boonedoc ~ I checked out that site and found a practitioner. I’m willing to try anything short of rubbing shit on my arm. Thanks for the tip!

basically, if you have a tear greater than 50%, i think (could be 75%) it requires surgery. but i can tell you that the benefits of post-op Graston work are tremendous. after surgery most people are not near 100%. with this technique, and i’m sure there are other soft tissue techniques out there, one can get even closer to 100%. i know my doc has so many post-op success stories, it’s ridiculous.

the reason i’m so in favor of this modality of treatment is that the instruments used allow the care giver to find problems deeper than with palpation of the hands alone. not only that, the instruments save wear and tear on the care giver’s own hands.

I had my shoulder scoped back in 97. I tried everything first except cortizone( I feel it only masks the real problem) After 2 MRIs I finally talk my doc into cutting. I was scoped on a Fri. and took the following wk off training. Second wk I trained/ rehab with dumbbells. By the forth wk. I was back to pre-op strength. I am now in my mid 30’s and still breaking personal records. Best thing I have done is to get it cut and fixed.

Guru X

I just got back from my appointment with one of the top ortho’s in the world: Dr. Richard Ryu. After hearing that my condition was chronic he didn’t even do any evaluations of my shoulder and just recommended surgery, which I found to be odd. I demanded a MRI before I make any decision since he also stated that my arm would be in a sling for 4 weeks and I wouldn’t be able to do any vigorous activity for 5 months afterwards. Anyone else find that odd?


No, I do not find it at all odd. Surgeons do surgery! They think that surgery is the end all and be all. They do not look at alternative holistic health modalities. They operate!

Another reason that they operate, other than they truly believe in the “knife” as the best alternative, is that doing surgery makes them money. Just as a mason does not turn down a good block job. A surgeon does not turn down a “good” operation. They are human and that is a fact of life. Granted many times they are correct. However, many times they are not!

I would only give you one piece of advice: Get three opinions before you let them cut your shoulder open!

Also, for my own edification, when is the first time you felt pain in your shoulder? Was it doing one particular exercise? If so which one? How long has it bothered you? How old are you? Please give some details, perhaps you could help spare others from your fate.

I sincerely wish you the very best!


I had shoulder surgery on August 15 for a torn labrum (torn for about 20 years). I had been able to do work-arounds for awhile, but that eventually came to an end. The surgeon who performed the surgery is the shoulder surgeon of choice for our local major league baseball team. The surgery went great and there is little post-op scarring (many have remarked at the skill of the doc in that regard).

Following surgery, it was approx 3 weeks before I started rehab. During that first three weeks, I was confined to a stabilization sling (full time for 1 week, nights only for 2 additional). I went through rehab for approximately 4 weeks. The real purpose behind the rehab was to help me regain ROM.

I have begun lifting again (I actually started 3 weeks ago, but my gym closed on me). Anyway, my first day back I probably did a little too much too soon. No real problems, but I felt it the next day. For the time being, I am taking it slowly because I really don’t want to go through this process again. I am comfortable that I will regain full strength over the course of the next month. I could probably go much faster, but once again I am being careful. There is still a little pain, but surgery was only 8-9 weeks ago, and it takes time to fully heal.

You can always get a second opinion if you are unsure of the docs recommendation. For now, it is too early for me to fully opine on the success of the surgery, but so far so good.

Best of luck.

Zeb -
I walked into the office knowing full well that he would probably recommend surgery, just hoping for some reason he would suggest alternatives. Wishful thinking I know, but it was worth a shot. This doc is pretty much on the level and I’m assuming that because I told him this was chronic (happening more than a dozen times over the past couple of years) that he knew that there must be beyond repair without surgery taking place. Everyone I know that has worked with him has been more than satisfied. To answer your questions about myself:
How did this start: playing basketball about 3 years ago was the first dislocation. It’s been happening more and more lately though regardless of what I do. Simple things such as catching myself from falling can aggravate it or even a hard hi-five!
Age: 26
I’m a strength coach and have tried just about everything from common rehab practices to ART to hot yoga. Nothing has really helped. I’ll wait for the MRI to see what happens. If I were to give anyone on the board any advice it would be to stretch a lot more than most do and work on stabilization exercises regardless of what aspect of fitness you are involved in.

Maverick -
Sorry to hear about your gym man. Keep me posted on your recovery!


Thank you for taking the time to address my questions.

I wish you the best and can understand how frustrated that you feel. I have had various injuries through the years.

Keep thinking positive and try to make some good decisions going forward. You have one big thing on your side. That is age. At 26 you will heel much faster than a someone older.

Again, the best to you,