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Rotator Cuff Recovery w/o Surgery
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Contributors to this thread:
Zim 28-May-20
Casekiska 28-May-20
PTArcher 28-May-20
Buffalo1 28-May-20
8point 28-May-20
Slate 28-May-20
Quinn @work 28-May-20
W 28-May-20
Bloodtrail 28-May-20
Zim 28-May-20
buckhammer 28-May-20
Zim 29-May-20
Rupe 29-May-20
Hunter's Granddad 29-May-20
Zim 29-May-20
Dave 29-May-20
midwest 29-May-20
jerrynocam 29-May-20
BullBuster 29-May-20
Trophy8 29-May-20
ElkNut1 29-May-20
Zim 29-May-20
jerrynocam 29-May-20
dnovo 29-May-20
bonehead 29-May-20
Bucknut 29-May-20
elkmtngear 29-May-20
Dave 30-May-20
Zim 05-Jun-20
Candor 08-Jun-20
Rupe 09-Jun-20
Dave 09-Jun-20
HighLife 09-Jun-20
bonehead 09-Jun-20
willliamtell 09-Jun-20
Candor 10-Jun-20
Dave 11-Jun-20
glidingindian 16-Jun-20
Zim 16-Jun-20
Drahthaar 16-Jun-20
glidingindian 16-Jun-20
grossklw 17-Jun-20
Dave 17-Jun-20
Zim 25-Jun-20
Old Reb 25-Jun-20
Buffalo1 25-Jun-20
Tracker 25-Jun-20
Dave 26-Jun-20
Dave 26-Jun-20
Zim 01-Jul-20
From: Zim
28-May-20
I am curious how many out there were able to rehab their shoulders and return to a vertical bow following a complete rotator cuff tear. The virus closures stopped my ability to have my shoulder evaluated nor rehabbed in a timely manner. It's now been 5 months and my chronic pain finally subsided. I regained some range but no strength. Can draw my kid's 10# toy bow to test but not comfortably. Our rehab center is still closed. So I cant even have it evaluated. I applied for a few western state archery hunts but mostly shifted to rifle hunts until I know more. Got no idea what the future holds. Don't want to try an xgun right now. The sight of one still turns my stomach. Anyone here able to return to vertical without surgery? I'm 60 really don't want any more medical procedures, had my share. Thanks.

From: Casekiska
28-May-20
If you still want to shoot a vertical bow and do not want rotator cuff surgery to repair your injury try switching to shooting the "other hand." If you normally shoot right handed, try switching to left handed, etc. At age 72 I had rotator surgery and my left shoulder was not healed by deer season. I could not hold up my bow in/with my left hand/arm. I switched to left handed and discovered I could shoot again. Struggled teaching myself to shoot left handed but did eventually do it. I wanted to bowhunt that bad! A few weeks later, in early November, took and buck & doe during the rut with my bow.

From: PTArcher
28-May-20
Rotator cuff surgery is a tough and lengthy recovery, but a good operation for most. You didn't state if it is your bow or draw arm. If you have a significant tear, you will likely struggle to shoot if it is your bow arm. If it's your draw arm, you may do well at moderate draw weights. If you are definitely set against surgery, Casekiska's suggestion of "other hand" shooting is a good option to try if it is your bow arm. At your age (same as mine), I would certainly look at surgical options. ( You indicated you have a complete tear. I assume you've had an MRI?) You are in a good age category for successful surgery and have too many years left to be limited in full shoulder function. This is certainly only my opinion as I don't know your full situation. Once things settle out, get a good orthopedic evaluation to at least understand your options. More information is a good thing. Best of luck!!

From: Buffalo1
28-May-20
I've only known 2 people who avoided the surgery and had PT. They never fully recovered.

After having surgery both of my shoulders, I went through the prescribed PT and fully recovered. As age has taken its toll, I have had to reduce my draw poundage, but that is to be expected. Thankfully still able to draw a string and swing a golf club- my 2 passions.

From: 8point
28-May-20
If you opt for surgery, follow all instructions to the letter, and ask a lot of questions about recovery. I had surgery on what was described as "as bad as it gets", and I was told I would be healed in 5 months. After that time, I went full speed ahead. Things didn't turn out so good, so a follow up visit at 9 months, I was told I had screwed something up and my shoulder was FUBAR. Doc explained that it really takes about a year for full recovery from a surgery to the extent mine was. I now shoot my $99 Bear bow set at 40 #'s and lob arrows into the target from 40 yards.

From: Slate
28-May-20
I had the surgery and you definitely need a good year. Not to much you can do but surgery for a full tear. Good luck

From: Quinn @work
28-May-20
If you have a dull tear or even most partial tears no amount of PT will get you back to even 90%. You will live the rest of your life impaired. I had RC surgery in March and killed an archery elk at 55# draw weight on September 19. Was shooting 40#-45# in August.

Get the surgery, do 100% of the PT and you’ll be happy in 5-6 months that you did.

Good luck!

From: W
28-May-20
I was about to go up in a climbing stand when the top spun around the tree and took my arm with it. I didn’t go to the doc, but it felt like it was just hanging there for about six months. It eventually felt good as new and no problem shooting a bow. No idea what level tear it was, but it hurt and wasn’t right. I was also about thirty years old.

From: Bloodtrail
28-May-20
As a former baseball player, I would research everything I could on rehab without surgery. You can and will build up the entire shoulder joint by doing a lot of these exercises. They are quirky and lengthy, but they work. You most likely won’t ever get to pain free, but I will bet you can get to where you will be able to draw a lighter weight bow. You can start your search with Jobe Shoulder Exercises for baseball. I’ve done these for many years and still continue to do them before my lifting sessions to protect what I have. :)

From: Zim
28-May-20
A couple things of note. Tear is in my left shoulder with which I hold my bow. I shoot right handed. Second, I have a pacemaker in that left shoulder so the doctor could not take an MRI. But many I've spoken to said MRI results are often inconclusive anyway. It's just frustrating the rehab clinics by me are still shut down so I can't get any professional evaluation nor guidance right now. I did get one session in before they shut down so at least I got a sheet with 6 exercises to work on. Best thing is the popping out of joint stopped as long as I avoid lifting much with left arm. I continue my 6 exercises daily.

From: buckhammer
28-May-20
I too have a rotator cuff injury in my left shoulder with which I hold my bow. Mine is a complete tear. I tore mine 5 years ago.

I had injured my shoulder twice by falling on the ice and the 3rd time I injured it by losing control of a piece of lumber I was moving. My arm was already weak from the falls and when I tore it for good by losing control of the lumber I could actually hear the tendon ripping in my shoulder.

Being the stubborn mule that I am I never went to the Dr. I just dealt with it. Pain wasn't much the first few years and I still was able to live my life relatively well. What little pain and discomfort I had were mostly in the winter months when it is cold. In the summer it feels fine. I didn't notice any loss of range of motion or strength at first but I can tell as time wears on ( it has been 5 years now) my arm is getting weaker.

This past winter (mid December thru the end of Feb.) the pain in my shoulder really went to a whole new level. Very difficult to sleep. Painful to drive a vehicle and as a whole I was just miserable. The turning point was one morning I woke up from the pain and it was so bad I got sick to my stomach and started dry heaving. Yes it was that painful.

So I called my family Dr. and they got me right in that morning. My insurance requires physical therapy first before they will authorize an MRI but my tear was visible from just an X-ray so they waived the therapy and authorized the MRI. The MRI showed a complete tear and because I have waited so long to do anything about it the tendon has retracted about 5 inches in to my shoulder and the surgeon only gives me a 65% chance that he can grab the tendon, pull it back to where it is suppose to be and re-attach it.

The best case scenario for recovery is the first 4 months I will do nothing except rehab. Months 6 thru 9 will be limited work with restrictions. And if everything goes as planned after 12 months I can return to normal, just watch what you do and don't over do.

I had a second opinion scheduled with another surgeon but like you the Covid-19 situation got in the way. After what I went thru this past winter I really regret not addressing this when I first injured it. Big mistake on my part.

You can do as you please but as soon as your state lifts its restrictions on elective surgeries I would get an MRI scheduled. In very rare cases will it not show your injury. You just need to lay stone cold still while it is being done for the best results. Mine took about 1/2 hr.

After your MRI go see a surgeon that your family physician recommends and then do some research and get a second opinion from a surgeon that you have chosen. Make the best choice for you and good luck.

From: Zim
29-May-20
bh, As I mentioned I cannot get an MRI due to my pacemaker.

From: Rupe
29-May-20
In April 7th 2019. I had surgery on my right shoulder and I am right handed. I had both a torn rotator cuff and a torn labrum. Pretty bad tears too. I didn’t lift or shoot my bow until September. Within 2 weeks I was shooting 70 pound compound with no pain. The only thing is I lost a small amount of range of motion. My family can’t tell, but if I reach behind my back to scratch it I can feel the difference. Again it’s minor.

29-May-20
I had my left should surgery April of 2019. I was able to bow hunt by Oct of 2019. I am left handed. I let my physical therapist know up front that being able to bow by Oct was my number one goal. My pt set my exercises up to help me make my goal. I believe it was the end of Aug before I could pull back my 65 lb bow. By Oct I could pull it back about 10 times in a row. Do everything you doctor and pt tells you to do. My doctor said it would be a year to 18 months before I would be back to normal. Looks like it is going to be 18 months for me. I close now.

From: Zim
29-May-20
I read the surgery should be done within the first 6 weeks after injury. Anyone had it after 6 months? I've read they have to grafts, etc. after that long.

From: Dave
29-May-20
There are way too many variables here for anyone to give you accurate advice. First of all, there are alternatives to MRI to confirm whether or not there is a tear. Many times tendonitis and bursitis can mimic a tear so you can't really know without further diagnostics if the cuff is torn and how badly. Your recovery will vary greatly depending on multiple factors: size and location of the tear, overall health, skill of the surgeon and rehab professionals, compliance with restrictions and rehab post-op, etc. My advice: Stop reading misinformation online and find a skilled shoulder surgeon who can evaluate your overall medical condition as well as your shoulder problem properly and provide you with an expert opinion on expectations, etc rather than listening to guys who apparently stayed at a Holiday Inn last night. Shoulder injuries and problems, just like knee injuries and problems seen in another thread, can not be generalized into one "expectation." There are literally hundreds of factors which come into play when determining outcome, recovery, treatment, etc. Just like no two meniscus tears are the same, the same is true for RC problems as well and what may be true for one individual on here, likely will not be true for you.

From: midwest
29-May-20
Bulletproof your shoulders!

From: jerrynocam
29-May-20
Ten years ago I tore my rotator cuff on my right side. I had the surgery in February and was able to hunt that fall. I swore I’d never go through that again as the pt was brutal. Last year I tore my left cuff and I thought I could work thru it, I couldn’t. By the end of the hunting season last year I could barely hold up my bow. In December I went to the doctor thinking he could prescribe physical therapy and I could work thru this. I’m right handed and pulling the bow back wasn’t the problem, it’s holding it up with the left and figured therapy would help. The doctor said you need surgery you have a complete tear and therapy isn’t going to fix this. He said if you don’t have the surgery you risk further damage to your shoulder. So I thought I had a plan, my wife and I go to Florida in the winter so I’d schedule the surgery for as soon as we got back the end of March and I’d be ready for my elk hunt I had scheduled for September. We all know what happened next so I had to cancel my elk hunt and not even sure if I’ll be able to hunt in October because as of today I still don’t have the surgery scheduled. But yesterday I met virtually with my family doctor and got the ok to have the surgery so the next step is to get the surgeon to schedule it. I don’t like x-bows either but if my choice is between hunting with that or not at all I’ll use it.

From: BullBuster
29-May-20
Dye injected CT scan and ultrasound are alternatives to MRI, although not as good. Full thickness and most high grade partial thickness rotator cuff tears don’t heal. Delaying in repairing can lead to significant atrophy which can result in a non repairable situation.

From: Trophy8
29-May-20
Zim...To answer your question regarding surgery within 6 months of injury. The surgery on my right shoulder was done years after I had first damaged it, The Dr said it could have happen anytime, really couldn't tell. Now the reason I had the surgery is because over time more damage was done to the point it was very painful. All the PT in the world will not cure the problem or heal the damage. The procedure has changed for the better, different techniques have made a huge difference. Both my shoulders were done orthoscopic , no cutting. Very happy it was done. A lot will come down to the extent of the damage, especially with recovery.

From: ElkNut1
29-May-20
Zim, I tore my rotator cuff to the max in a mens league slow pitch tournament. I had to go straight to the hospital after my collision with a team player. I could not move my right arm at all & was in great pain. The Dr. said I needed surgery for sure & was scheduled as soon as swelling subsided.

A friend recommended to try PT with a sports Dr. Long story short, I did it & was religious with my rehab-therapy, I did it myself at home. Once arm was out of a sling (30 days) I started slowly, this wasn't by choice! (grin) As weeks went by from July to Sept I slowly regained my arm & its strength enough to bowhunt that year. I was around 48 when it happened & am 65 at present with no ill effects to speak of. --- I rehabbed the hell out of it determined to hunt that same year, I was fortunate it all worked out; so yes sir it can be done!

I will always avoid surgery when there's another alternative to consider! Good Luck!

ElkNut

From: Zim
29-May-20
"My advice: Stop reading misinformation online and find a skilled shoulder surgeon who can evaluate your overall medical condition as well as your shoulder problem properly and provide you with an expert opinion on expectations, etc rather than listening to guys who apparently stayed at a Holiday Inn last night."

Dave, Did you read my post? All the rehab clinics by me are closed due to Covid. All the doctors offices by me are closed for elective procedures at this time. I can't even get a revaluation of any kind. I've stayed away from posting about this for 5 months, but I am getting impatient and want to hear what others might have experienced. There's really nothing else I can do right now due to Covid.

From: jerrynocam
29-May-20
Zim, have you checked with your doctor recently? I thought they opened Indiana up for elective surgery.

From: dnovo
29-May-20
Zim I don’t know how long you’ve had your pacemaker but I got one 2 years ago and was told I could do an MRI with it. Technology keeps improving.

From: bonehead
29-May-20
I fixed 4 rotator cuffs this week and have probably fixed 2000 total ,as well as treating a large number non operatively. I will let others decide if I am an expert or not, but I do have a lot of experience with rotator cuff disease. Dave's advice is spot on. Every tear is different.

From: Bucknut
29-May-20
I had mine torn in a skiing accident. Left shoulder, Right handed. I took the PT route. I was shooting my bow that summer and killed a deer in archery season. It was 1 year before I could lift a gallon of milk into the fridge. The best advice I can give is to get some exercise bands and light dumbells. 2-5 lbs. Do vertical arm raises in front and to the sides with bands, rotate in circles with the dumbells small circles to large and then back. The PT included bench press and butterflies to but the bands and dumbells did the most good.

From: elkmtngear
29-May-20
This may not be the option for you, but I had 3 tears confirmed by MRI (Superior Biceps Tendon, Rotator Cuff, and Labrum). I got platelet injections in the Rotator Cuff and Superior Biceps Tendon about a Year ago, and I'm now able to shoot my 65# Compound easily all day, even through a multiple Day 3D Shoot.

I do a lot of "maintenance" , to include ice pack 4 Days per week, Pulley Stretches, and resistance band work (all stuff I learned in Physical Therapy). I've also modified my lifestyle and work habits, to avoid re-injury. Hopefully, I'll get some good mileage, before actual surgery is necessary down the line.

From: Dave
30-May-20
"Dave, Did you read my post? All the rehab clinics by me are closed due to Covid. All the doctors offices by me are closed for elective procedures at this time. I can't even get a revaluation of any kind. I've stayed away from posting about this for 5 months, but I am getting impatient and want to hear what others might have experienced. There's really nothing else I can do right now due to Covid. "

I read your post. If indeed there's nothing you can do where you live right now due to Covid is pretty much irrelevant. You've gotten advice on here from 2 orthopedic surgeons now with vast experience in RC and shoulder problems. What else are you looking for? None of the other advice is relevant to your condition as none of them likely have a similar condition that you have. See a shoulder specialist when you're able, get a further work-up and discuss your options with him. Don't listen to your PCP or whoever told you there aren't any workup options available because of your pacemaker. Most PCP's know little to nothing about RC problems, in my experience. It's not what they do. They don't treat hundreds of them every week. Don't listen to what everyone else did or thinks because THEY ARE NOT YOU and do not have the same condition that YOU MAY HAVE!

From: Zim
05-Jun-20
Update - Well I had no time to keep up with my thread due to new on the job project manager training. Had my hands full. Anyway after multiple attempts my orthoped office called me back and are seeing patients again so I took the first opening next Wed 6/10. My range of movement has improved so I am hoping he can do a proper analysis this time. Will update. Nothing but rifle draw applications for balance of year so no pressure to xgun it.

From: Candor
08-Jun-20
i would suggest a sports med physician over a surgeon. A surgeon's nature is generally to want to fix things surgically. A sports med physician's approach is to try to assist you in avoiding surgery. The above is not universal. I have a partial rotator tear in both shoulders and a partial labrum tear. Life sucked for a while but I have successfully avoided surgery for 10 years. I no longer lift weights that should require hydraulics so I am hopeful I will meet my maker having avoided surgery. I am much smarter on taking care of my cuffs and do PT for 3 minutes a day 3 days a week.

From: Rupe
09-Jun-20
Good luck Zim

From: Dave
09-Jun-20
Jesus! Here we go again. 99% of "Sports Med Physicians" wanted to be Orthopedic Surgeons but couldn't because they didn't have the qualifications. They try to assist you in avoiding surgery because THEY DON'T DO SURGERY AND THEY DON'T WANT TO LOSE A PATIENT. Any good, reputable orthopedic surgeon will also help you try to avoid surgery if you can. Many times, this is possible. Sometimes, it isn't. But, and I emphasize this, Sports docs DO NOT have the breadth of experience in surgically treating hundreds of RC and other shoulder problems every year. Not saying it happens everywhere, but I've seen patients who were "treated" by sports docs for months or even years for a condition that was never even properly worked up, was misdiagnosed, and was mistreated before the patient finally wised up and sought the opinion from a qualified shoulder specialist. Are there surgeons who will perform surgery even when the condition can be treated non-operatively? Sadly, yes. But I would take my chances with someone who trained 6 years in their specialty after medical school over someone who trained 2 in Family Practice and hung a shingle out claiming to be a "Sports" specialist.

From: HighLife
09-Jun-20
Biggest efffen mistake I ever made was going to a Sports specialist. Went from a tiny tear that would be healed thru therapy to 3 years later a full blown tear

From: bonehead
09-Jun-20
Any good physician is going to give you your options and then his/her recommendation as to the best path for you, then you can decide what you want to do. I operate on well less than 10% of the patients that see me each day ,and unfortunately there are a few knife happy surgeons but most really try to do what is best for you.A non surgeon does not have quite the same breadth of experience and understanding as someone who treats this condition both ways and sees the end result each time. That is not to say nonoperative sports med guys are not good at what they do, but they cannot offer you all the options personally.I would not want to play golf with half my clubs left at home.

From: willliamtell
09-Jun-20
I tore my superspinatus, did rehab for a year, still couldn't do dodo, got surgery, had a rough recovery (beware the words "frozen shoulder") but manned up through about a year of rehab. Really glad I did it now. Of the previous posters, Dave seems the most knowledgeable. You always try to avoid surgery, but if you have a complete tear (doubtful, your shoulder would be in a really weird position but what do I know) you may not have another option. Some ortho's call shoulder problems 'welcome to 50' since so many of us get them around then. There are a TON of flexibility/strength exercises you can and should do to put off or avoid the day of reckoning, if you're not already completely borked. Good luck.

From: Candor
10-Jun-20
Two different shoulder surgeons told me I had to have shoulder surgery. The sports med physician, who is their partner, suggested otherwise. After following his treatment plan I was incline benching 275 lbs for reps. Never got back to 315 though. But I would consider that a success at age 40. I find positive testimony much more compelling than scare tactics.

Someone foolishly said: "sports docs DO NOT have the breadth of experience in surgically treating hundreds of RC and other shoulder problems every year..."

Yeah...that is sort of the idea, sports med docs don't do surgery. So why would they have experience surgically treating someone? That is akin to saying a guy that does tune ups on cars doesn't have the experience rebuilding transmissions. Logic can run in short supply in folks making emotional arguments.

The educated surgeon will generally have a partnership with a sports med doc.

What is amazing is that foolish people on the internet use negative stories to dissuade folks from making educated decisions. I can count at least 4 people that I know personally that have had terrible shoulder replacements by surgeons that live in the past or cuff surgeries that did not work out well. Negative stories make compelling emotional arguments. But positive stories illustrate pathways that work. Never listen to someone that tries to make their argument by fear. I would find a good sports med doc that has a partnership with a good shoulder guy. See what he says. Consider these two alternatives;

1) Follow sports med path and it does not work out so you have surgery. 2) Have surgery without trying a PT/sports med route and never know if you could have avoided surgery.

I know which one of those is more compelling to me.

Good orthos are worth their weight in gold. Emotional docs do not fit in that category. I certainly would not ever consider seeing an ortho that does knees, shoulders, elbows, hips.... If you decide you need surgery, find one that does primarily shoulders and elbows, has a reputation for soft hands, ignore bedside manner and follow your PT precisely.

From: Dave
11-Jun-20
While some of your points are valid, several are not. Treating RC problems surgically gives one an entirely different perspective on how certain tear patterns behave and also what happens to tears years down the road if they are not repaired. A Family Practice physician(yes, that is all a "Sports Doc" is) does not have that experience or training. There are no Sports Medicine residency programs. They have NO training in RC, knee, or any other sports injuries and their experience consists of the occasional injury they see in their office and treat(or in many cases, mistreat). They are trained in primary care and hang a shingle out claiming to be a "Sports Doc" because they didn't get into Orthopedics. Orthopedists see and treat these injuries all day, every day. Many RC problems should start with a non-operative treatment protocol and a reputable orthopedic surgeon should start you on one. There are certain circumstances where repairing a tear earlier leads to better outcomes down the road, especially in young, active individuals. As I stated earlier, your circumstance is entirely different than the OP and you can not apply your results or situation to him as YOU ARE NOT HIM! Claiming to know 4 people with terrible shoulder replacement outcomes that were due to cuff surgeries that did not work out well borders on ignorance. Do you know the size and location of those tears? Do you know whether the patient followed the rehab protocol? Do you know the overall general health of those patients who underwent RC repair? What do you think would have happened to those shoulders had the patients not undergone RC repair?? They would have likely needed a shoulder replacement!! I have rarely seen shoulders that needed replacing due to a poorly done repair. On the other hand, I've seen hundreds that needed replacing because their cuffs were not repaired. Your point about not seeing an ortho who does more than 1 or 2 body parts is also a false generalization. In my career, I've known "shoulder specialists" who I would not go to personally. And I've known surgeons whose practice consisted of treating many different areas of the body who I would have no problem going to. Surgical technical skills are not isolated to one body part. Good technicians are good technicians and bad ones are bad no matter how many or how few body parts they treat. Glad your situation ended up well for you. Let us know in 5-10 yrs if that's still the case.

16-Jun-20
As an Orthopaedic surgeon with considerable long term shoulder surgery experience and of course even more non operative experience I have to weigh in here. This discussion has happened many times on Bowsite and my previous comments are almost identical to Dave and bonehead posts above. Having had rotator cuff repairs on both shoulders I Also have experience on both ends of the knife. There are way too many individual variables to give specific advice on this blog but in general you are best served by seeing a skilled And ethical shoulder surgeon to make a plan. They have far more experience, WAY more training and knowledge in both operative and non operative care than the vast majority of doctors who call themselves “sports” physicians. Some of the non surgical physicians are really good but we are talking years of difference in training and far broader experience here. The best surgeons are trained to try and select only the patients for surgery that can benefit most with the fewest complications. The great majority of shoulder problems do not need surgery. . An experienced shoulder therapist that works with your surgeon is huge whether you have surgery or not. That’s not to say we surgeons know it all by any means. I learned ( and continue to learn ) from the therapists I work with all the time. Couldn’t do it without them. but your treatment team needs a leader to direct your care and that should be the one with the most experience but who also surrounds themselves with quality team players that he listens to and respects. Good luck and hope you recover quickly!

From: Zim
16-Jun-20
Missed my doctor appointment due to problem at work. The saga continues. Reset for July 24th.

From: Drahthaar
16-Jun-20
ZIM, I tore my Rotator cuff in 2013 while drawing my bow, went to the doctor , he said it would heal on its on but I would never have full strength in my right shoulder, I didn't have a MRI. I did the PT at home on my on, hurt like hell for about 8 months , but after a year all pain was gone, I was shooting 75 LBS at the time of the tear and dropped by draw weight to 50LBS , again it hurt to draw but I did, used a climbing stand hunting, anyway it will heal on its on just takes time. Forrest

16-Jun-20
Zim- lets be clear here. I cannot disagree with Drahthaar enough on this nor will anyone else with significant experience in shoulder pathology. You cannot know if someone has a rotator cuff tear without documentation with an MRI or arthroscopy or ultrasound. . What kind of doctor? , what is his training and legitimate experience ?? What did he do to make that diagnosis? Many people have shoulder pain and it is not a rotator cuff tear but bursitis, tendinitis, impingement, labral tear, nerve root impingement etc. Again, even if you have a rotator cuff tear Or other shoulder pathology your symptoms may go away and you may get better . That is why we treat so many conservatively and reserve surgery for the ones we think need it most. Yes, you may get better if you do rehab and if you are lucky. However, if you truly have a rotator cuff tear it will not heal and you might need surgery. Guys, it’s ok to give your personal experience ( many posts here are very logical and reasonable) for consideration but please stop giving specific medical advice if you have no training or knowledge past your limited personal experience. There are some good posts here in addition to Dave, Bull Buster and bonehead who clearly know what they are talking about. Re -read PTarcher as well. The best ones tell their experience without advice. Heck, you don’t even know what is wrong yet. PS Zim - find out if your Pacemaker is MRI compatible. Call your doctor and ask for an earlier appointment Best of luck GI

From: grossklw
17-Jun-20
I'm a PT as well doing mostly sports medicine, everyone else needs to fill in their .02 so I might as well put mine in too :)

Really there are only a handful of opinions here you should (or anyone reading this thread in the future) reading here. The 3 ortho surgeons and PT archer (as well as myself) should be the only opinions on here you should be even remotely looking at. Anecdotal evidence is that, it's one time cases. Will you do fine conservatively? Maybe, or you could turn a medium sized tear into a massive one and end up with a reverse total shoulder replacement instead (if you thought the rehab sucked on a RTC repair, try a reverse total shoulder). The experience of the shoulder surgeons who contributed to this thread will trump what you buddy at the bar or bowsite says. I've rehabbed plenty of RTC tears conservatively, but this is generally after they see a surgeon and everyone agrees conservative is the best route. I've had plenty of cases where it's clear after a month that PT isn't the answer and I ship them back for surgery.

That RTC tear if it is indeed one will not heal, in certain cases you can strengthen the rest to essentially mask the impairment, but that cuff isn't going to magically close that gap no matter how long you give it to "heal". I'm a pretty conservative PT when it comes to surgery, but in "most" of the cases the outcomes are generally quite a bit better going the surgical route, especially acute tears in active individuals.

Moral of the story, don't talk to your buddies, go see an ortho. I've got 5 or 6 "sports med" doc's in the area, and the ortho's that have contributed earlier are correct, these are family practice doc's that have covered a few football games. There's one exception to the rule in my area, but he's a fellowship trained non-surgical spine specialist, but he literally refers to surgeons all the time if he thinks there is even a chance they need surgery. Ego is the enemy in medicine.

From: Dave
17-Jun-20
Well, apparently drahthaar must have stayed at a Holiday Inn last night. I was prepared to write a scathing rebuke of his post but glidingindian did a much more diplomatic job of it than I would have.

PEOPLE, PLEASE STOP OFFERING YOUR UNEDUCATED AND USUALLY 100% WRONG ADVICE WHEN YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT!!! If you want to offer archery advice on an archery forum, go for it. But when you start acting like a medical expert without any training or experience in the medical field, you do more harm than good.

Drahthaar's "advice" is a classic example. There is SO MUCH MISINFORMATION in that post, it is ignorant. I realize he means well but is clearly uneducated and, if indeed his doctor told him that, the doctor was also clueless. This is exactly the kind of "medical advice" oftentimes given by "Sports docs" who don't have a clue about RC injuries and leads to disability down the road.

RC tears DO NOT HEAL ON THEIR OWN!!!!! The pain may subside but the tear will not heal and you will have persistent weakness. Depending on your lifestyle, age, size of tear, and activity level, some may do just fine without repair. But only each individual, after careful diagnostic evaluation, can make this decision with a qualified specialist. And by "qualified specialist," I DO NOT mean family practice docs, internists, sports docs, GP's or anything other than Orthopedic surgeons. None of those practitioners has ANY training in RC tears and treatment. Would you see an Orthopedic surgeon for a heart problem?? Would you see a General surgeon for seasonal allergies?? Would you see Neurosurgeon for breast cancer??? Then why on earth do some of you people think that a GP with only 2 yrs of post-med school training in treating minor medical problems like colds/flu, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc could possibly be an expert or have any reasonable experience with treating orthopedic problems????

From: Zim
25-Jun-20
Well, I finally was able to get an appointment with the orthopedic MD. Haha this guy, both times I seen him he acted like he had tickets for the big game and my appointment was the only thing in the way. Basically since my pain had ended and I was getting good range of movement, it was case closed. I could slowly resume activities even golf & archery if I could pull bow. Bye! Well I didn’t want surgery anyway but I’d at least liked to have gotten time to discuss possible future outcomes. Nope. He was gone. So anyway I’m quite weak but will just try some activities and see what happens. Don’t see me drawing much bow weight ever again.

From: Old Reb
25-Jun-20
He can't be the only Ortho in town. If so, go to the next town.

From: Buffalo1
25-Jun-20
+1 Old Reb

From: Tracker
25-Jun-20
I have had surgeries on both shoulders. I avoided it for a few years on my right shoulder and all it did was cause more damage. You can recover to do normal life things but if you plan on shooting a bow better consult a surgeon. I have fully recovered and enjoy shooting at 67. I was operated in 1990 and 2001 so it has gone well.

From: Dave
26-Jun-20
I guess the question is, if he acted that way the first time you saw him, why did you return to him? He sounds like a poor reflection of the profession if what you say is true. However, I have come to realize that there are often two entirely different perspectives on what was discussed and the conclusions after an office visit. I seriously doubt he considered it "case closed." If indeed you feel like you still have a serious problem that wasn't addressed, then you should get another opinion. However, given the fact that you claim to have a RC tear with full range of motion and no pain, I would question how you came to that conclusion with no diagnostic tests. Sounds to me like you may not have a RC tear at all, but probably one of the other more common afflictions affecting the shoulder which is why you shouldn't listen to internet "experts," sports docs, or PCP's when most of the time they don't know WTH they're talking about.

From: Dave
26-Jun-20
Double post

From: Zim
01-Jul-20
My pain has not completely ended. Only when I do not exert the arm. I did move up from drawing my kid's toy bow to a 25# youth bow reasonably well, but with some pain and weakness. I'll only increase draw weight if the pain stops. Goal now is to work it out enough to draw minimum legal weight by October 1st and avoid joining the crossgun army.

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