Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The $64,000 Question

Red circle shows my partial thickness rotator cuff tear. It's highlighted in white on account of the contrasting agent (gadolinium) migrating towards it.

And the answer is... I have a small partial thickness tear of my rotator cuff due to traumatic injury.

I'm now faced with the decision of whether to undergo surgery or not. I could try ‘activity-directed’ physiotherapy, but this did not work before. The surgeon said if it was him that he would go for the surgery.

Surgery would of course involve having to keep my arm in a sling for up to a month and no climbing for 3-6 months, however I should be back to normal in 1 year and full recovery seems likely due to my age and the size of the tear.

I'm in two minds about the surgery. With physio I had a significant reduction of pain, however I was never 'normal' and shortly after stopping, the pain came back. As pointed out by my physiotherapist, I can't do physio exercises for the rest of my life. However, I really don't want to have that long off of climbing. Equally the prospect of being in pain for the rest of my life doesn't sound appealing either. Also my tear might worsen.

Even if I stopped climbing all together, it’s highly likely that I’ll have day to day pain for a long time; possibly for the rest of my life.

I think I’m leaning more towards surgery but I need to find out more about it.


Lauren said...

Nasty stuff.

3-6 months without climbing to recover - it may sound like a long time, but in the grand scheme of things if that 3-6 months meant that I would make a full recovery and could then go back to full strength (and get even stonger), pain free, I think I know which way I would be favouring.

Whatever you decide, I hope it works out.

Minister of the Masochistic Truth said...

That's a tough one Jenn. I had shoulder surgery back in 1998 to repair an impingement and it hurt like the dickens. Overall, rehab was close to a year. On the bright side, over 10 years later, it's still good (though I still feel some of the old knocks from playing ice hockey, football and rugby).

Whatever you decide, here's wishing you well and a speedy recovery!

Jenn said...

Thanks guys :-)

I was originally leaning more towards surgery, now I'm not so sure. 100% recovery isn't guaranteed. Equally, I don't have 3 months of my life where I don't need my right hand.

I need to find out more information. I'm going to try to get a second opinion.