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Getting Your Shoulder Back in the Swing of Things: February 24, 2013

New surgical procedures are making it easier than ever to repair a torn or damaged rotator cuff.

“We do almost everything now, with the exception of total replacements, we do arthroscopically.  And that just means we do it through a series of poke holes, looking in with a small camera about the size of a pencil as opposed to opening a whole shoulder up through a large incision,” says Dr. Fletcher Reynolds, orthopedic surgeon on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

As good as the surgery is, the results will be less than desired if patients don’t properly manage their recovery.

“The tendency for a lot of athletes is to go into the weight room and put on heavy, heavy weights. Do low repetitions of heavy weights such as bench press or military presses to build up deltoids or pectoral muscles.  And that can overpower the small muscle groups such as the rotator cuff muscles that help stabilize the shoulder.  And that only compounds the problem,” says Dr. Reynolds.

It’s important to fight the urge to over do it. Doctors want you to exercise with lightweights 5-10 pound dumbbells. By doing more, small movements, you can isolate and rebuild the rotator cuff muscle group so they can do their job.

“The rationale is that the major muscles, the deltoid muscle, the pectorals muscle that most people are well aware of, those move the joint.  But the ball and socket is inherently unstable so the rotator cuff muscles work in a very sophisticated manner to prevent it from slipping and moving around as those large muscle groups are working.  So if they are overpowered, that subtle instability occurs and injuries result from that,” says Dr. Reynolds.

Rehabbing a torn or tattered shoulder takes work- but you have to remember to take it easy.