Rotator Cuff Surgery: A Patient’s Perspective

By: Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center
Date: Jun 6, 2023

David Weaver is an active person.

From auto mechanics to hiking and kayaking, David enjoys his life to the fullest. But he also began to notice a familiar pinch in his shoulder and a limited range of motion.

“It wasn’t a singular event that caused my injury,” David explains. “But it took me a while to decide to do something about it. I didn’t want to be dealing with this when I was older. I wanted to heal as fast as I could.”

He knew repairing his injury would be the only way back to his active life.

What Is a Torn Rotator Cuff?

p>More than 2 million people in the U.S. seek treatment for a torn rotator cuff each year. In fact, by the age of 80, almost all adults will have experienced the injury.  

A rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint as the arm moves. Most injuries result from repeated arm movements like throwing a baseball or lifting boxes overhead.  

When the tendons and muscles tear, it causes pain and limits your range of motion. Often you can hear a clicking or popping sound when you move the affected shoulder. And the injury will get progressively worse. 

“During the summer of 2021, it was hard to get dressed, put on a belt or reach around my back,” Weaver remembers. Even sleep proved a challenge.  

The injury also affected his ability to work. “I’m a plant engineer. When I tried to help my co-workers, it got to the point that I couldn’t raise my arm. I started experiencing constant pain radiating down my arm, so I kept it at my side.” 

David knew where he wanted to go for care.  

Personalized Treatment Plans

Emory Healthcare’s world-class orthopaedic specialists work with you to create an individual care plan based on your needs and goals. Surgery is not always the first line of treatment. Many shoulder problems can improve without surgery.  

Our surgeons partner with physical therapists to establish a nonsurgical plan to reduce symptoms and improve mobility. Your plan may also include injections and medications.

Before his surgery, David underwent physical therapy at another health care provider to improve his range of motion. There, he also had a steroid shoulder injection. He responded well at first, but the relief was temporary. 

Seeking another solution, David then had a consultation at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center ­– Flowery Branch. This facility offers patients of all ages advanced treatments and comprehensive services for orthopaedic, sports medicine and spine conditions.  

“During my consultation, I talked with my doctor about my injury. The team explained what would happen during and after the surgery,” he says. “The level of detail and intensity of the entire team reassured me. They were ready for any contingency they might find during the surgery.”   

When the day arrived, David and his wife knew what to expect. They felt care and compassion from the minute they arrived. And to their surprise, the team wasted no time getting David on his road to recovery. 

“I wasn’t in that building for 45 minutes before I was under a mild anesthetic. It was so fast and done with such care.” 

David’s surgeon found a long rotator cuff tear. He reattached the tear and used a REGENETEN™ Bioinductive Implant to reinforce the area. This cutting-edge treatment adds a layer of collagen between the flat tendon and the surrounding tissue. It encourages the body’s natural healing process.   

This level of advanced treatment is available across Emory Healthcare, and Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center has among the highest patient satisfaction and best outcome rates in the nation* for surgeries performed. Our clinicians also take part in clinical research studies and develop innovative techniques to improve the quality of life for patients like David.

Life After Surgery

After surgery, physical therapy enhances healing and recovery. Physical therapy is a team approach; your physician and physical therapist work together to create a personalized treatment plan for your recovery. At the Flowery Branch location, David appreciated that his surgeon could walk down a flight of stairs to check on his rehabilitation and discuss his progress with the physical therapist.  

The hard work of physical therapy paid off for David. “I could feel the results,” he says. “Every exercise challenged the areas we needed to target. And I felt confident doing them. I was in good hands.” 

Staying on top of his physical therapy means David can return to life without limitations. And he appreciates the pain-free everyday tasks more than anything.  

“The Dodgers won’t pick me up, but I can do many things that I couldn’t do before, ” he says. “I can get dressed. I can sleep well. My shoulder doesn’t bother me at night. I haven’t had those problems since the surgery. I couldn’t be happier with the repair.” 

David concludes, “I will be a cheerleader for Emory Healthcare all my life. It’s the place to be to get well.” 

Get it Done Right the First Time with Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center

If you are dealing with a torn rotator cuff or shoulder injury, you can get expert joint, sports and spine care at all of our locations.  

Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center has among the highest patient satisfaction and best outcome rates in the nation* for your surgery. By using advanced research techniques developed by our top surgeons, we can make sure your surgery is done right the first time.  

Schedule your appointment today.
*Results based on an average of 86% patient satisfaction rating compared to a national benchmark of similar facilities at 68%. Infection rates averages at .45% for primary hip and knee procedures compared to .58% nationally.

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