Rotator Cuff Repair Rotator Cuff Repair & Biceps Release

marieltha

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I had Rotator Cuff Repair and Biceps Tenotomy (Release) Surgery on May 22, 2019. The supraspinatus tear was full (clear on MRI) and the biceps tendon damage was suspected (not as defined on MRI). So I anticipated one “anchor” for the full tear, with a possible second if the biceps needed to be reattached. The full tear was bigger/worse, but repairable; the biceps tendon, however, was almost completely deteriorated/shredded, ie, beyond repair by reattachment, so it was “released.” Surgery went very well and as planned. (Aside: This was the only positive experience I have had in my life with general anaesthesia, which I will share later on, as this thread develops.) My biceps was so deteriorated that after it was released, I do not have any deformity, bulge, or Popeye arm, thankfully. The biceps area, however, was and is very tender and painful, albeit, gradually improving. I also (LOL?) discovered that the “big, loose, light, soft shirts” that were recommended as the clothing for recovery were not useful at all. It has been a month, and yesterday was the first time I have been able to tolerate a light sleeve on the affected arm for a brief ride in the car, and it was quickly removed the minute I got home. So I have been living in two
things: Primary choice is an old, but favorite CalCru tank style beachdress coverup of pure smooth cotton, OSFM, with huge, deep armholes, and second choice is a pure smooth cotton strapless beachdress coverup that I step in to and pull up. The sensitivity of the nerves and skin in the arm have prevented me from tolerating anything with a texture or weight or sleeve. And I have recently added a prANA organic pure smooth tank top, purchased in a larger size to ensure the deep armholes, which I can sleep in, or wear with a skirt or under the tank beach dress. I own similar tank tops, but the cotton in this is superior, so I have ordered a second.
Here are my questions now:
1) If you have had a biceps released, will you share your recovery high points, please, especially as regards pain and sensitivity over time?
2) Have you any recommendations for clothing during recovery from such a surgery?
 

Jamie

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Welcome to our band of Shoulder Warriors, @marieltha. I don't know if you'll get many responses from others with a procedure similar to yours, but I hope so. We're looking to build our content here on the Shoulder Forum to include a wide range of surgeries and experiences. Yours is a new one to me, so I'll be interested to read how you progress.

Now that you're home from surgery, did your doctor give you any exercises to do or are there any limitations on activity and movement you have right now? These are some of the details that I know anyone facing this procedure would want to know.

It might help with your sensitivity to wear an elastic arm sleeve (one that's not too tight) for a while. You also could try the trick we tell knee patients - wrap your arm in Glad Wrap at night when you're sleeping and see if that helps. It's something about the heat the plastic wrap generates and the fact that the surface of the skin is covered....many people find relief from sensitivity with this simple idea.

For clothing ideas, you might try summer weight ponchos. Just Google SUMMER PONCHO and you'll find a lot of choices.
 
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marieltha

marieltha

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Thanks, Jamie! Excellent suggestions! I appreciate your feedback, and will share my results implementing them.
1) Dr’s guidance: I was to wear the sling 24/7 except when showering for the first 2 weeks to ensure the full-tear fix adhered. No exercises except walking. Had a home nurse 6 times. Also had access to my dr’s RN for pre-and post-surgical patients via cellphone 24/7 for any questions, concerns, emergencies, etc. , which I find invaluable.
At 2 weeks, saw the dr who x-rayed and examined the shoulder and arm, and removed the last bandage and sutures. He advised me to listen to my body and wean myself off the sling. He said the surgery results were very good and that the biceps area pain was normal and would subside over time. Next appointment scheduled 4 weeks from then. He said to just gradually use the arm again for normal movements as able , not above waist high, and absolutely no lifting of anything more than 1 lb (cup of coffee/water). And to keep walking and stay rested, hydrated, and eat healthy foods. I’m still sleeping upright, but in bed. He said sleep was essential to recovery and to sleep however I can as long as I stay off the recovering arm.(Note: I had a PKR in late March and that leg is only comfortable sleeping in the bed).
2)Had just started adding moist heating alternating w icing and will try the plastic wrap.
3) Will research ponchos. I got the Suzanne Somers 3-way poncho that women on YouTube recovering from shoulder surgery had on and recommended. Technically not a poncho as it has sleeves, but loose. Top can be pulled down to bare shoulder for comfort or drs visits. Very soft viscose andlight. Haven’t worn it yet.
 
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brs0660

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Hi @marieltha Glad you found Bonesmart. It’s been a lifesaver for me. When I had knee replacement the sensitivity was definitely a problem. Time helps. I want to encourage you to not overuse your arm. I made some choices that were not wise and tore my scapularis tendon and must have a repeat surgery.
 
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marieltha

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Ouch. Thanks for your advice and caution. It is so easy to overdo the minute one feels better. I really appreciate it.
Sorry you must redo this.
Good luck w your surgery TOMORROW.
 
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marieltha

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Improvement!
Five Weeks since surgery, and I’m feeling better!
Less aching and sensitivity in the biceps area. Longer periods between increased aching in the shoulder/tendon repair.
Sprained medial ligament in right knee (3 weeks old)less painful.
New left partial knee replacement (13 weeks old) doing well.
Completely off the tramadol. Taking Tylenol & Celebrex. Still need a 1/2 Norco to sleep. Must sleep.
New today: Frame that allows adjustment of head and foot of bed (added to existing 10 yr old beloved Sleep Number Bed). Feels heavenly already. Will update after sleeping tonight.
 

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What a great report! I'm so happy to hear things are improving for you. Sometimes it can seem like
f-o-r-r-r-e-v-e-r, can't it.
 
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marieltha

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Yes! I was pleased with the surgery, but then got discouraged when I sprained the ligament. But am faithfully wearing the brace and am back thinking positive again. The input and feedback from Bonesmart has really helped.
 

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So glad to know BoneSmart has been a help to you. We love that great feedback from our members. Thanks!!
 

brs0660

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Great report. Sounds like you are a go getter. Be careful. Those tendons are going to be healing for quite awhile. Do NOT be headstrong.
 
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marieltha

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Thank you for your kindness and wisdom.
I am being cautious.
 
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marieltha

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Bed update:
I LOVE the new frame system that converted our bed into an adjustable bed! The quality of my sleep last night was significantly improved! I checked w my OS’s nurse regarding head & foot positions/combinations to make sure the shoulder, biceps, the leg w injured ligament, and the leg with the new partial were in positions to promote healing.
Much better for icing, too.
And reading.
 

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That's great to hear. All the people I know who have adjustable beds just love them. Now I know one more.
 
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marieltha

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Big, happy news: I had my Checkups with my Ortho Surgeon today (6wks shoulder; 4 weeks ligament sprain; 14 weeks new partial left knee). He says I am doing fine, that I am right on schedule for recovery for all (even a bit ahead on one ROM measurement for the shoulder). Yippee!
Must increase stamina, though.
And I now have a set of shoulder stretches to do every day.
And different directions for walking. By time rather than #of steps.
Plus, told to add Biotin 10,000 for improving cartilage/tendon, as well as nail health.
Very, very happy!
 
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Jamie

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What a great report! I'm happy for you.
 
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marieltha

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I have gone back through some of the bonesmart recovery articles and found the one about pain meds helpful, particularly the graphic that compares the strength/amount of pain relief among the various types.

I have experimented recently with naproxen instead of celebrex (2x daily) and w tramadol instead of norco at night. I am only taking Tylenol during the day now.

I’m going back to the Celebrex (day) —better relief of inflammation and stiffness for me. And I’m going back to the Norco (night). I can only take 1/2 of a tram or a norco.

For me, the tram wore off too quickly so I had to take another 1/2 in the night. I can do the whole night now w just the single 1/2 norco. My OS says this is fine.

Note: My pain is primarily in the shoulder RCR & BicepRelease(6 wks ago)and sprained right knee ligament (4 wks ago) .

The left partial knee (14 wks ago) gets tired and stiff, and the ankle sometimes swells, and the nerves are still aggravated a bit, but that new knee does not hurt much (very sensitive to drops in barometer pressure, though).
 

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Sometimes you have to do some experimenting to see what works best for pain relief. I'm glad you've found a routine that gives you relief. And your surgeon agrees....bonus! Things will continue to improve with some time. You have an additional challenge of TWO surgeries within a relatively short period of time to deal with. I think you're doing very well.
 
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marieltha

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Thanks, Jamie.

I am continuing to experiment. Yesterday, I took the second Celebrex closer to bedtime, rather than right after dinner. I had to eat a snack, as I must eat before taking that.

I did not take the 1/2 Norco at bedtime or in the night! :catwindow: Yes, kitty, just put that norco back in the bottle. Thank you.

I did take valerian (otc) and 2 Tylenol at bedtime. I got up in the night, but the pain did not wake me up.
I am clearer headed this am.

Thanks again.
 
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