Ray's Story (Rotator Cuff Surgery)
Ray gets Back in the Swing of Life
“It was the weekend after Thanksgiving and I was cleaning up around the Ray Redniss after rotator cuff surgery at Stamford Healthhouse,” he recalls. “I tossed a bunch of magazines into the dumpster and just fell down. The pain in my shoulder was immediate and severe.”
Still, Ray hoped with a little rest his shoulder would recover on its own. As the Christmas season marched closer and closer, he was still feeling pain. He finally decided to see a doctor.
“My brother had just seen Dr. VanBeek and he recommended her to me,” he says. “She realized fairly quickly how badly injured my shoulder was and ordered an MRI to see the full extent of the damage.”
It was clear from imaging that what Dr. VanBeek suspected was true: Ray had a large rotator cuff and bicep tendon tear.
“It’s very important to have surgery as quickly as possible for an injury as serious as Ray’s,” Dr. VanBeek explains. “A tear to the rotator cuff – especially such a large one that goes all the way down to the tendon – gets worse over time. The tear gets larger and muscles atrophy as the tear fills in with fat. This creates a lot of pain and can really impact the range of motion.”
Ray’s case may have needed surgery, but many rotator cuff repairs do well with non-invasive treatments, such as rest, ice, therapy, steroid injections and modifying activities. The key, reiterates Dr. VanBeek, is an evaluation soon after the injury to assess the severity and make a treatment plan with an orthopedic physician.
Dr. VanBeek wanted Ray in the operating room just a few days after his MRI, but he had other plans.“We were planning on going to North Carolina to work on our house for a few weeks,” Ray says. “Instead, we scheduled surgery as soon as I got back.”
“I was under strict orders not to overdo it while I was gone,” he adds with a laugh.
Getting Back to Normal
“Everything about my experience – from my first appointment to getting prepped for surgery – really was easy. Everyone was so friendly and compassionate. It certainly helped me feel comfortable and confident about the procedure,” Ray remembers.
After surgery, Ray worked closely with the physical therapy team at Stamford Health. He did exercises to help strengthen his shoulder and improve his range of motion. And, just as importantly, he and his physical therapist stayed in close contact with Dr. VanBeek.
“Communication is key after surgery,” says Dr. VanBeek. “I work closely with physical therapists and patients to monitor their progress and adjust therapy plans.
“It can be hard for some patients to stick to physical therapy and their restrictions after shoulder surgery,” she continues. “We typically release patients six months after surgery. That’s a long time for them to go through daily activities with limited use of their arm, hand and shoulder. But it is that compliance that helps with outcomes.”
Dr. VanBeek had shared with Ray that most people only return to about 85 percent after six months and are close to 100 percent within a year of surgery. Ray thinks he has those statistics beat. In fact, he feels so good, he enjoyed a deep-sea fishing trip just a little shy of the one-year anniversary of his surgery.
“I feel great. My shoulder feels great, and I attribute a lot of that to Dr. VanBeek,” he says. “I spent six hours pulling in king mackerels without a hint of strain. My shoulder felt strong and stable – not something I would have expected within a year of surgery!”
“It’s just a great feeling to get out there and do the things I enjoy,” he finishes. Clearly, there are many more deep-sea fishing trips in Ray’s future.