FAQ Category: Shoulder


I have heard horror stories regarding failed rotator cuff repairs.  I am on the fence about going through with a repair.  What kinds of things lead to a successful repair and what can I do to make sure, if I do go through with it, that mine works?

The best outcomes of rotator cuff repairs come from a variety of factors.  Personal factors, like the location and extent of the repair, as well as the patient’s age and overall health play a big role in success rates.  Surgical technique choice and length of time spent in a sling […]


My physician told me not to start physical therapy until one month after my rotator cuff surgery. My next door neighbor had the same surgery last year and his doctor told him to start right away. Am I missing something? Should I be concerned that I won’t get recover as quickly?

There are a lot of different post-operative rehabilitation protocols for rotator cuff surgery and varied research to support which are most effective. One of the more widely used protocols, which seems to be the one that was used by your neighbors surgeon, involves immediate post-operative passive range of motion for […]


I am planning to have rotator cuff surgery and am worried about potential for a retear. I am a pretty active person and want to be sure that I can play softball again next summer. What are the chances that I will retear my rotator cuff?

Utilizing a traditional rehabilitation protocol involving immediate physical therapy for passive range of motion, reports vary between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of rotator cuff repairs resulting in a retear. There have been many improvements made in suture techniques to decrease this rate but little change in the […]


I was recently diagnosed with frozen shoulder and was told that it will just heal itself. Is this true? Isn’t there anything else I can do for it? I am 62 years old and otherwise healthy.

Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis is charaterized by a loss of both active and passive range of motion at the glenohumeral joint. It is classified as either (1) primary idiopathic or (2) secondary to another pathologic process, and can often be associated with diabetes or thyroid disease. Treatment with nonoperative […]


I am a 57 year old male who plays a lot of recreational softball, two to three nights a week including practice. I recently found out that I have to have rotator cuff surgery to repair a torn tendon. What are the chances I will be able to return to recreational softball?

Rotator cuff pathology is probably the best known shoulder joint injury, particularly in athletes involved in throwing sports, swimming or racquet sports, and can vary from tendinitis to a full thickness tear. Aging is associated with an increase in rotator cuff tears, both partial and full thickness. Smaller tears are […]


Are they any closer to using stem cells to repair a torn rotator cuff? I’d like to find a way to regain full use of my shoulder without surgery. Wondering if stem cell research is going to provide the answer.

More time, effort, and money is being spent on exploring nontraditional treatment of shoulder arthritis. Nonsurgical, biologic treatment includes the use of medications, injections, cytokines, growth factors, platelet rich plasma, and stem cells. Stem cells are the basic cells that can turn into any other kind of cell, including tendon. […]


I’ve always thought I had a shoulder problem called “frozen shoulder.” But now my physician tells me I really have something she calls “adhesive capsulitis.” What’s the difference anyway?

For many years, the terms adhesive capsulitis and frozen shoulder were used to describe the same condition. Patients experience shoulder pain and loss of shoulder motion. The problem comes on slowly over a period of time and seems to affect women more often than men (especially women between the ages […]


I can’t really say too much and please do not release my name but I am a professional pitcher with a major league baseball team and a serious shoulder problem. I have both a rotator cuff tear and a labral tear. It kills me to pitch but it is my life. However, my pitching accuracy is so off and my speed is so slow, I have no choice but to try surgery. How long would it take to recover from something like this?

There are many different reasons why elite baseball pitchers may need shoulder surgery. But the biggest question is always, How long will it be before I can go back to pitching? Some answers can be found in a recent research report from the Division of Sports Medicine (Department of Orthopedic […]


How does one go about getting the “finesse” of pitching back after shoulder surgery? I had a labral tear repair and can pitch the baseball okay. But I’m noticing some difficulties with pitch control and wondering how I can get the “wobble” out of my pitches. Nothing I’ve tried so far has helped.

Many overhead throwing athletes find that pitch accuracy, speed, and endurance can be compromised by injury and/or recovery after reparative or restorative surgery for that injury. And as you already know, overhead throwing (i.e., pitching) requires a fine balance between movement (mobility) and stability (keeping the shoulder in the socket). […]


I had a shoulder replacement for bad osteoarthritis five years ago that has come loose. Now it looks like I need a shoulder replacement on the other side as well. How can I keep this problem from happening again? I don’t overuse that arm but I may have overused the “good” arm and wore it out so that now I need another replacement. I don’t know what to think.

Total shoulder replacement for severe joint osteoarthritis has come a long way since its first use. But it isn’t perfect yet. Ten to 15 per cent of patients receiving this implant later develop loosening of the glenoid component (socket side of the implant). The reason for glenoid component loosening is […]


Six weeks ago, I had surgery to remove my arthritic shoulder joint and replace it with a shoulder replacement. When I was at my follow-up appointment, the surgeon mentioned doing some extra “reaming” to correct a tipped shoulder socket. Why would this be necessary? I kinda don’t get it but I didn’t say anything at the time. Now I’m wondering more about it.

Alignment of the glenoid (shoulder socket) in the scapula (shoulder blade — where the glenoid is located) is a key feature necessary for a smooth moving shoulder joint. The head of the humerus rotates inside the glenoid (socket) so a good match means full, normal motion in an arc of […]


Please help! I’ve been told I may need a shoulder replacement. I have a certain affinity for my body parts and I’m not willing to have any of them cut out and replaced. I also am a very active relatively young (65-years old) person and don’t want to give up my pickle ball, golf, dancing, or gardening. Isn’t there anything else out there for people like me? What do you advise?

The diagnosis of shoulder osteoarthritis usually leads to successful results (less pain, better motion and function) with a shoulder replacement. But there are certain patients for whom studies show conventional shoulder replacement doesn’t always result in good outcomes. And there are folks like yourself who would rather avoid this type […]


I’ve been doing some reading on-line about shoulder replacements for younger people (like me). I’m 55-years-old but my left shoulder looks like an 80-year-old’s. I had a series of football injuries to that shoulder back in the day. Looks like it’s catching up to me. The doc has already told me I’m too “young” for a shoulder replacement. So where does that leave me? Are there any other alternatives besides suffer and wait until I’m “old enough” for a new shoulder?

Like you, not everyone is a good candidate for a total shoulder replacement. But suffering for another 10 (or more) years while waiting to “qualify” for a new shoulder isn’t an acceptable alternative either. Recently, surgeons from the Cleveland Shoulder Institute in Ohio offered their best advice about how to […]


Okay guys — which way should I go: reverse shoulder arthroplasty or hemiplasty? Without some kind of help or guidance, the decision is going to be a coin toss for me. And I don’t really think that’s such a good idea, so I’m searching for help. I’m 72-years-old with a very weak and painful shoulder because of a torn rotator cuff. These are the two options I’ve been told are my best bet.

Reverse shoulder arthroplasty has become increasingly popular for shoulder replacement surgery when patients have a massive rotator cuff tear. The other procedure you mentioned (“hemiplasty”) is probably really hemiarthroplasty. Let’s take a look at what these two methods are and some comparative results from a recent study. In the study […]


Okay by everyone else’s standards, I am considered “elderly” but even at 88, I feel energetic and ready to take on the next 20 years. The problem is I have a severely torn rotator cuff and the pain and loss of motion are very limiting. My children and grandchildren are just sure “Granny” (that’s what they call me) won’t make it. What are the odds here?

You may be pleased to know that many “seniors” are taking aging by the horns and redefining it. Perhaps you’ve heard the expression “60 is the new 40” (referring to age in years). Well, if that’s true then 80 is the new 60 and so on. The Baby Boomers (adults […]