Kevin's Story

Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery Repairs Body’s Most Often Dislocated Joint

The proof of Kevin Jennings’s shoulder surgery can be found in his golf swing. Within a month of an operation to repair his rotator cuff, Jennings was hitting the links.

Jennings was helping a friend pour concrete when a sharp motion tore the rotator cuff in his shoulder. Although he felt the initial tear, he withstood the chronic pain for nearly six months before finding Andre Wolanin, MD, of Southwest Orthopaedics Inc.

Many patients like Jennings experience pain for an extended period before seeing a doctor. The shoulder is the most flexible joint in the human body, with the widest range of motion. But the socket, in which four tendons attach muscles to the upper arm, is very shallow. Consequently, the shoulder is the most frequently dislocated major joint in the body.

“By the time people in our country turn 60, a significant percentage have rotator cuff tears,” says Dr. Wolanin, who performs a high volume of shoulder surgeries. “If it’s an acute injury, the person may feel a pop when it occurs. Or over time, if the rotator cuff weakens, it may feel like a rope that isn’t connected.”

A rotator cuff injury makes it difficult to perform simple tasks like serve a tennis ball, shoot a basket, hammer a nail or put a gallon of milk in the refrigerator. A damaged rotator cuff may present nagging pain, especially at night when sleeping puts pressure on the shoulder.

Repairing the rotator cuff, typically an arthroscopic surgery, involves only three or four small incisions. Rotator cuff surgery is generally an outpatient procedure, meaning the patient goes home the same day. Two months of therapy ensures a healthy recovery with a low complication rate.

Within three months of his surgery, Jennings also painted the entire interior of his home – a strain on even the healthiest of shoulders, but not a pain to him at all.

“I was surprised myself,” says Jennings, who even hung some wallpaper during his redecorating rampage. “I had no pain at all. Dr. Wolanin did an excellent job.”

Now retired, Jennings works out regularly and doesn’t have to restrict his exercising at all. “I do all the machines, weightlifting over my head and everything,” he says. “I never have a problem.”

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