Shoulder Surgery – Do You Really Need It?

A few months ago I tore one of the muscles in my rotator cuff and was told that I would need shoulder surgery to fix it.

Without getting too technical I will explain a little about the shoulder joint. The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint. Your arm has a ball of bone on the end which sits inside a cartilage socket. The four muscles of the rotator cuff move the shoulder but also help hold the joint together.

All these muscles run over and under the bones of the shoulder, back and chest so any injury to one of the muscles can be extremely painful. Any swelling to the muscles caused by an injury means that they can catch on bone or other tendons as they move.

I tore the Supraspinatus muscle or rather one of its tendons. Because this tendon runs through a channel of bone at the end of my shoulder blade every movement meant that the tendon was being pinched. Trust me. That's painful.

I injured my shoulder by lifting something that was too heavy. After a few days of pain, I took my shoulder to the doctor who referred me to a specialist. He diagnosed rotator cuff syndrome which was confirmed by an MRI scan and I was booked for shoulder surgery. At the time, I was given a steroid injection into my shoulder muscle which reduced the inflammation and pain significantly, but gradually after about four weeks it started to deteriorate again and become more painful.

Whilst waiting for my surgery date, which can take a while in the UK, I started researching shoulder surgery on the internet and in the process came across some useful information on shoulder injuries. With nearly twelve weeks to wait until my planned shoulder surgery I decided to try something different to see if I could fix my shoulder.

I started exercising my shoulder, small movements at first avoiding anything painful gradually building up over the next few weeks until I could do just about anything that was asked of me. I was able to start swimming, which had been impossible at first, and am now back to full movement and completely pain free. I am now off of all pain killers and have just lost my first round of golf in three months. Of course I blamed my shoulder but in all honesty, it was the lack of practice rather than any shoulder problem directly.

I have now postponed the shoulder surgery and if the good fortune continues I will be cancelling it altogether.

What do I put this down to? I'm not really sure but my theory is that as we grow older we change shape, we do not use muscles so much and our posture changes. Maybe waking up some of those lazy muscles eased the pressure simply by making me stand straighter. Who knows? But I like my new stronger shoulders.