Earlier, we discussed how the different levels of severity in dealing with a rotator cuff injury and how it can vary your choice of treatment. If your injury leaves you in the cloudy stage between surgery and non-surgery, it is important to hear all the facts, pro’s and con’s before choosing which is best for you.
Let’s begin with the non-surgical route.
If you have other medical complications that would prevent you from having a choice of surgery, have no health insurance, or are just plain scared to go under the knife, then the non-surgical route is a no brainer. But choosing this route can be beneficial for other reasons. First, physical therapy has proven extremely successful in aiding the recovery of almost every injury. Signing yourself up for a little PT can do wonders for your mobility, strength and balance. A physical therapist not only aids your recovery, but teaches you how to take those exercises and training methods home to continue to help you get better and stronger to prevent another injury. This also is beneficial because it constantly keeps you active, which oddly is the best method of recovery. Surgery can keep you locked down for up to several weeks, rendering you unable to move, and possibly keep you out of work for an extended period of time.
Keep in mind when going with the non-surgery route, that although rehabilitation seems like the less complicated road to recovery, if you do not put in the time and commitment, you will be left right back at square one – sore, immobile, and useless. However, more often than not – if you commit yourself to this method and stick with it – your chances of restoring full motion and strength are very high.
For those who think surgery will be a walk in the park recovery compared to months of rehab- well you are sorely (no pun intended) mistaken. Although there are benefits to immediate surgery, in my opinion, the cons out way the pros. Surgery is typically recommended within the first few weeks of the injury if you are young, your livelihood depends of the mobility of your shoulder, or if the injury is causing severe weakness. Unless these factors are your driving decision, take a minute to think about what surgery could involve. Aside from having to eat hospital food, you run the risk of blood loss and complications with anesthesia, infection at the incision site, damage to surrounding muscle and tendons and the possibility of more surgery if your tendons don’t heal properly the first time. And best of all, you have to do physical therapy after surgery anyway.
Although that made surgery sound like a horror scene, if your body is healthy for surgery, this option does allow for a successful “quick fix,” which has been beneficial to a lot of patients.
My goal is not to scare you from either option, but to paint you an accurate picture of what to expect with whichever you decide. Remember, it is your body, and your choice. If you don’t feel comfortable about something, speak to your doctor to try to solve the problem. You will always have options.