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SLAP Tear Repair -- Warning, Contains Graphic Images

My SLAP Tear

Written by
Published: March 9, 2015
Updated: April 3, 2015

On a sunny, windy day about three years ago, I was in the front yard tossing a football with my oldest son. Due to the wind’s speed which was directly in my face, it took considerable effort for me to throw the ball to where my son was standing just 20 yards away.

I have always had a pretty good arm. I could throw a football on an otherwise calm day a consistent 60 yards; I could throw a baseball in the mid 70 mile per hour range when clocked at the minor league concession stands at the various Double A and Triple A ballparks I have visited across the nation. Throwing the football to my son just 20 yards away should have been a piece of cake, wind or no wind.

We had been throwing back and forth maybe a dozen times, and on my next to last throw, I heaved that football to my son as hard as I could.

I didn’t hear a pop, or any noise for that matter, coming from my arm. The only sound made came from my mouth — it kinda went like this, “GHHAAAHHH, SH$%, son of a Easter bunny!” Okay, I admit I cleaned it up a bit, but my right shoulder hurt like the devil.

My son asked if I was okay.

I did a quick check, moved my arm around and didn’t feel any pain, so and I responded, “sure, throw it back!” He did.

A little voice in my head told me to call it a day. I should have listened.

I reared back and threw it again. This time about half way threw the motion, just as before, the pain hit me again — just as intense. It was time to call it a day. That day ended up being about three years. For some reason, when it comes to going to the doctor, I do like to procrastinate. It is one reason why my medical record after 26 years in the Navy is less than 30 pages.

A few months ago, my wife required a visit to our Primary Care Manager — that is Tricare speak for family doctor. The shoulder hadn’t been getting any better, so I took the opportunity and had her make me an appointment for the same time — two birds, one stone. At my appointment, I describe my pain and how it happened. She, the doctor, scheduled me for an MRI.

When you are on the military’s managed care health plan, or Tricare, your family doctor must refer you to a specialist. In this case with the MRI results in hand, my family doctor set me up for an appointment with an orthopedic specialist. To make a long story short, after no appreciable positive results from two months of physical therapy, my ortho doctor scheduled me for surgery to take place on Wednesday, February 18, 2015.

And that is why since that date, my response to email and blog comments have been slower than usual.

It wasn’t until after the surgery did I find out the extent of the damage to my right shoulder. I had a Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior (SLAP) tear, Paralabral Cyst, and bone spurs in the right shoulder. The rotator cuff muscles were both torn and shredded, and to fix it — I am not a doctor, so this is how I understood it; the doc had to remove the spurs and the shredded muscle, and then cut, move, and reattach my bicep tendon.

Here is some pictures of the procedure — warning, they are taken inside my shoulder, so they are graphic.

This one shows some of the shredded tendon being cleaned up:

Right Shoulder shredded tendon

This one shows the bicep tendon cut and prepared for movement and reattachment:

Right Shoulder bicep tenton reattach

Shows the bicep tendon being reattached:

Right Shoulder bicep tenton cut and move

Today, just a couple of days short of three weeks post surgery, I am progressing very well. As a matter of fact, for the last three days now, I haven’t found the need for additional pain medication. I don’t expect that to last because I have been warned pain will increase in line with the intensity of physical therapy. We’ll see. But it is safe to say, I think as far as this all relates to me answering your questions, I am back to 100%.



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Unless otherwise noted, content written by Thomas Goering, NCCM USN(RET).

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