bigb

Smithing after rotator cuff surgery?

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Have any of you had rotator cuff surgery? I had rotator cuff issues about 20 years ago and just did some therapy for it which helped, and I was able to carry on normally for all these years. Now however something has happened. I have all the symptoms of a tear and my right shoulder and arm have been hurting for about 5 weeks. 3 weeks ago I made an appointment which is next Friday but I am fearing the worst. At this point I cannot even think about swinging a hammer.

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There have been great advances in rotator cuff surgery in the 20 years since your first one. I'm sure you will be just fine. Choose your orthopedic surgeon carefully. Best wishes.

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There are also forging aids like: powerhammer, hydraulic presses, treadle hammer and strikers.   I was lucky my surgeon said my rotator cuff looked fine he just needed to remove the large bonespur and I was back in business...except the other shoulder had the same spur but as it hadn't caused problems---yet; he couldn't get permission to remove it

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I had a problem with my rotator cuff years ago. My doctor didn't recommend surgery at the time but gave me a cortisone shot. I haven't had a problem since. I figured that the shot hurt so much my brain said nope, nope, nope you won't ever have any pain from that shoulder again.:o Fortunately it wasn't my hammering side.

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My Dr; did the shot on both sides; but he said only once; if it didn't quiet down; then surgery. So Surgery on my non-dominant side and nothing so far on my dominant side.

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Bigb,  I had rotator cuff repaired 3+ months ago, Dr. also removed more bone spur from the area, and worked on my biceps, again. I am not able to do much of anything yet. This was my 3erd surgery on that shoulder/bicep in less than 4 years though.  Dr. says rotator cuff has healed, my issue is in the bicep. The surgery has at least given me relief from the pain I was in prior to the surgery. I am able to sleep in bed, all night, some nights. This was all on my hammer arm, looks like I'm going to have to learn to work with other arm.   Good Luck!  Al

 

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I have a bone spur in my dominant shoulder, but oddly enough forging doesn't bother it.  I think flintknapping caused it so that's a whole different type of motion.  I have to just listen to my body and not try to forge for more than 4 hours at a clip.  Eventually the bone spur will catch up with me and probably will have to be dealt with.  I wish you all the best of luck bigb.

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Update, The doc says I have bad arthritis in the joint and there is hardly any cushioning left in it. I asked if there was a tear and he said with the condition of the joint it wouldn't matter if there was a tear. He put me on Advil and physical therapy which starts this Thursday. He said if those don't work I am looking at a shoulder replacement if I want it fixed. 

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As a physical therapist for the past 22+ years, I'd say talk to your PT about not only your pain issues, but also what you want to get back to doing.  If, after you say blacksmithing, your PT rolls their eyes and says you won't be able to, get another PT.  If there aren't any tears in the muscles/tendons (what the rotator cuff actually is) then you may only have to modify how you stand at the anvil or swing your hammer.  

The problem with relying on general practitioner MDs is that typically, they only have 1 hour of musculoskeletal anatomy in school and no coursework in biomechanics.  The problem with many orthopedic surgeons is that all they consider is surgery.  I'm sure you've heard the saying, "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."  A good PT will have a thorough understanding of biomechanics, and movement and how to adapt and change your movement patterns to reduce inflammation, which is usually the cause of pain.  You may have to modify your hammering, and it's possible your days as a striker may be limited.

I'd try 3-4 different PTs before even considering shoulder replacement.  Those have a horrible success rate, and I've known surgeons who consider a 50% recovery a successful replacement surgery.

On 9/16/2018 at 5:34 PM, bigb said:

I asked if there was a tear and he said with the condition of the joint it wouldn't matter if there was a tear. He put me on Advil and physical therapy which starts this Thursday. He said if those don't work I am looking at a shoulder replacement if I want it fixed. 

After re-reading the above, I'm not sure how much stock I'd put in this doctor.  It would most certainly would matter if there was a tear.  If there's a complete tear, you've lost one of the 4 muscles that holds the head of the humerus in the glenoid, and that would matter.

I'd also suggest start icing the shoulder for 30 min a few times a day.  Advil is an anti-inflammatory and ice is a great anti-inflammatory.  Also, Advil is only one of a few different NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatorie Drugs), and not all of them work for everyone (Cortisone is a steroid, a much more powerful anti-inflammatory).  Advil is ibuprofen and that doesn't work for me.  What works for me is Aleve, which is naproxen sodium, a different chemical.  Another NSAID option is Aspirin, which works for some folks.

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Thanks BillyO, the doc was a actually an orthopaedic specialist and I will ask him to expand more on his opinion of a tear being inconsequential compared to the joint problem. I am in my 5th week of PT and it it going slow but I think I am making progress, I do have a bit more motion but if I move a certain way the pain is still there. No one has said I won't be able to hammer anymore and in fact two weeks ago I did some light hammering at an open forge with my grandson and didn't suffer any ill effects. If I keep my arm low and close in there is no pain or weakness. I will see the doc again for a follow up an ask more questions. 

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Never had shoulder surgery, but I’ve had a LOT of back surgeries and procedures.

BillyO is giving sage advice, you need to be holistic (and realistic) in your care.

General Dr, surgeons, orthos, and even PTs can all have one track minds and courses of actions they take.  As he said, find s GOOD PT by trying multiples, they aren’t all the same. Work hard and show a true interest in getting better and they will put more effort into your treatment. Trust me from the patients side, I have literally accumulated years of PT service.

Be careful with consistent long term NSAIDS, I gave myself an ulcer, last thing you need is not smith once your shoulder feels better but your gut has a hole in it and you don’t want to forge. Only take with food and a glass of water. Don’t just throw a max dose down with a cup of joe and run out of the house.

Try one cortisone shot, or a course of oral steroids for a bit to knock the bulk of the inflammation downI. If CBDs (oral and topical) are legal in your state give them a try. I developed a bunch of inflammation around the bolts and rods in my back and it worked as good as steroids without the side effects, and I have many friends with as good of result.

Wishing you health and success in your treatments,

Steve

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