Shoulder Surgery
Monday, April 9, 2012 at 12:25PM
Eularee in Boomers, Healthy, active senior, arthroscopic shoulder surgery, bone spurs, orthopedic, rotator cuff

I recently underwent rotator cuff surgery as a result of an injury from a car accident. Although I was prepared for a long recovery, my doctor was surprised to find the damage was less than indicated by the MRI. Minimal tears to the rotator cuff did not need to be repaired and the SLAP tear (superior labrum anterior to posterior) was more ragged than torn, requiring a "mowing of the lawn". 

Along with these minor repairs, the arthoscopic surgery located several bone spurs. Since my mother had her rotator cuff shredded by bone spurs, the result being a complete shoulder replacement, this new and unexpected wrinkle was trouble lying in wait. 

But what are bone spurs? A bone spur or osteophyte is a bony growth that forms on normal bone. This extra bone is not sharp but usually smooth causing friction as it rubs against soft tissue, ligaments, tendons or nerves. A common place for these to appear is in jointed areas of the body. 

The cause is the body's attempt to repair itself as we age and the joint is subject to pressure or stress (as in injury). It is a part of the aging process as the slippery cartilage wears away and breaks down (osteoarthritis). The bone spur is removed with a burr, relieving the problem and allowing more room for the tendons.

Now the question of keeping the shoulder healthy will be answered with weeks of physical therapy. I must inject here that I had been through months of physical therapy before the doctor decided that surgery was the next step. Typically surgery is the last step. Being a very active person, the loss of motion and pain prompted me to finally choose surgery to correct the problem. Physical therapy did a great job of controlling the pain and strengthening the shoulder. Like an athlete I prepared for the marathon of surgery and recovery. Here are a few steps toward preventative care for one of the most common aging issues.

• warm up slowly, stretching muscles before and after work out

• never work or play through pain

• take breaks and drink plenty of fluids

Whether you are a weekend warrior or just searching for dust bunnies under the couch, preventative care is much wiser for mind and body. 

Resources:

Ptjess' Blog - Shoulder Longevity 

Beverly Harzog - Play It Smart: The Boomer's Essential Guide to Preventing Sports and Exercise Injuries 

Article originally appeared on Eularee Smith • Writer & Educator in Eugene, Oregon (http://www.eularee.com/).
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