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Acute Pain 3 1/2 Months after Rotator Cuff Surgery

Posted In: Medical Stories 2 Replies
  • Posted By: MaineCoonLvr
  • November 8, 2011
  • 01:26 PM

Hello to Anyone Who Might Comment or Share Information:

I had rotator cuff surgery July 28th -- pretty rough stuff but lucked out with a great surgeon and an ultra-fabulous PT therapist. I'm very aware that shoulder surgery is a 'normal' 4 to 8 month process -- maybe even a year -- to get rid of all the pain................

But, the pain I'm now experiencing is stronger than several weeks ago. I worked my way thru the protocols to achieve the degrees of 180 angle when arm is straight up; 90 degrees to the right; 85 degrees to the left, etc. --- but the residual pains now are drastically awful. I have pains up in the neck, across the neck, down the backside of the arm, into the wrist with a lot of hard tingling pain. The arm was gaining strength there for awhile -- but now is losing that strength to the point I'm at a Level 4 pain even typing this.

Is anyone out there acquainted with NEUROPATHY? Is this a possible pinched or compacted nerve? I'm 69 -- and know that at my age the process of healing will take longer since my muscles are tighter than when I was younger. BUT, I'm a very active, well-exercised (still slowly jog, go to the gym 5 to 7 days a week, stay active with quilting and lots of activities, etc.). I'd love to stay in PT since I have such good help - but now the wonderment is going towards seeing a neurologist. Anyone with any suggestions or ideas -- I'd love to read what you have to say.

Wishing everyone out there a healthy, happy day.

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2 Replies:

  • Don't fret! This is (most likley) normal post-op pain! You are most likely experiencing the pain & twinges of your nerve endings growing back together. For me, it's always been between weeks 12-16 that those seem to kick in. Just when you think you're making progress! But it is a good sign. You may want to back off your stretches a bit. Also, you may be feeling better so you might tend to over-do with lifting & such. I've (unfortunately) had 30 surgeries. 18 of those required an incision of some type. Of those 30 surgeries (including tonsillectomy, 14 kidney surgeries (through the uriters to retrieve chronic kidney stones & 1 partial nepherectomy, removing 1/3 of my left kidney), a vertical emergency C-section, an 8 hr surgery for full abdominal total hysterectomy w/scar revision (from the nasty c-section scar that healed w/adhesions so it looked like a **** on my stomach, lol) plus cervix & bladder suspension & then a rectoceal repair (prolapsed rectal & vaginal walls), sinus reconstruction, 9 teeth extracted (done in hospital!), ankle reconstruction, and more!), my right rotator cuff surgery was THE MOST PAINFUL to recover from!!Each repair is different depending in the location & degree of your tear(s). My tear was not that extreme but my surgeon had to cut through the deltoid muscle to repair it. My physical therapy was going along well. Slow & steady should be the motto! At 14 weeks BAM! The pain went from bad to WORSE! It had me wondering if I'd done the right thing, having surgery (there really wasn't an option). We slowed PT to a crawl. By week 17 I was doing better... and then my PT guy went on vacation. The main guy took over & ended up stretching my arm too far one day. The extreme pain caused me to actually vomit on his shoes! My surgeon was furious. An MRI showed the repair was thankfully still intact, but I had to pretty much start over. I knew enough to just continue at home. due to the pain starting after the intial injury I ended up with chronic insomnia. It was actually 4 years after the rotator cuff repair before I didn't have such intense pain that it woke me, but by year 5, my shoulder was almost pain free & now (7 yrs later) it only hurts when I really over do it with heavy lifting. Unfortunately, because I favored it, I now have 3 small-medium tears in my left rotor cuff! I'm putting off surgery as long as possible (via cortisone injections) because of the horrid memories! Hubby reminds me a lot was due to the psycho PT guy, lol!Here is some information I put together for a friend from research & personal experience that may help you:You will experience a lot of twinges and zaps as healing takes place. Nerves and other tissues heal at different rates, so these sensations spread out over a couple months. Healing is not a smooth curve, but rather a series of steps in which one type of scar tissue forms, then is dissolved and replaced by another. Healing starts with a scab, and then gradually moves toward the end result of smooth, strong, elastic scar. In the interim stages, that new tissue is vulnerable to damage.One of those periods comes at about 12 days (for most people) when the earliest scarring resolves into a stronger one and sutures are dissolving and letting go. It is very common to experience extra twinging as your body readjusts to things in this first major healing stage.Skin numbness and burning are also common in a nerve healing stage. I've heard that nerves regenerate around your incision at the rate of about an inch a month, but not all numbness or edgy sensations from cut nerves go away, even with time. This is typical of any surgical incision. For me, it's always been around the 12-14 week mark that the pain increases a bit. Many doctors have explained that's about the time all those nerve endings have grown back together.You can expect to go through these tissue healing stages for at least three months, and it takes six months to a year to reach maximal healing. That's right: that long! So remember to go easy on yourself, you may look healed on the outside but you are still healing inside!Of course, a call to your surgeon or primary care doctor is always the right call if you have extreme, sudden & unexplained pain. It never hurst to check with the expert!
    Empress Susi 1 Replies
    • November 21, 2011
    • 11:25 PM
    • 0
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  • Thank you bunches, Empress Susi --- your information is invaluable. I appreciate such time and effort you took to write so many details. I ?think? I'm a bit better this week..........and I'm now using the Flector Patch for inflammation which is truly wonderful for about 1/3 of the pain. It takes the edge off so nicely. I'm struggling with back of the skull pain a great deal -- but, like you, they assure me this is the nerve cluster coming out of the spinal area that is very 'unhappy' right now during this stage of stretching/strengthening exercises. I'm contemplating acupuncture as I've heard many have great success following PT with these procedures. Thanks again -- for all the good info. Happy Thanksgiving...
    MaineCoonLvr 1 Replies
    • November 23, 2011
    • 06:24 PM
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