Surgery doesn’t restore function to your shoulder

Surgery to repair torn rotator cuffs is common. I have known several hockey teammates and other friends who have had shoulder surgery. They can all tell you what a recent study at Henry Ford Hospital has concluded: surgery does NOT restore strength or dynamic stability to the shoulder.

In super simple terms, that means that after surgery your shoulder still won’t do the things you know it should be able to do.

Not exactly a fantastic result, in my opinion, but apparently others think shoulder surgery might still have some use.

Here’s what Dr. Michael Bey, one of the doctors involved in the study, said about shoulder surgery:

Our study suggests that surgery may restore normal shoulder strength but doesn’t necessarily restore normal shoulder motion.  It could be, however, because the shoulder pain goes away, there is value in surgery.

In my estimation, there are two things you go into shoulder surgery for: relief from pain and restoration of your ability to DO STUFF.  If surgery can only provide relief from pain, what’s the point?

There are a great many other ways to relieve pain. Pills, for example, also relieve pain but don’t restore function.  A slap in the face could relieve the pain you feel in the shoulder (the old distraction method…) but would also do nothing to restore function to your shoulder.

What do you think?  Is there a good reason to have shoulder surgery for rotator cuff injuries given the sacrifice you must make in function?


About the Author

Matt Hsu is a trainer and orthopedic massage therapist. He fought a long battle with chronic pain all over his body and won. He blends the principles he learned in his journey, empirical observations with clients, and relevant research to help others get their lives back.