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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Pittsford, VT
    Posts
    452

    Bankart Repair - My Tale of Recovery

    I figured I would post this up as both a resource to anyone who is staring down the barrel at a bankart repair as well as a way to put my experience to "paper" and ramble on about my triumphs and tribulations. Feel free to add your own insight and comments!

    After 6 years of recurrent dislocations, including a grand total of 6 ER visits to have my shoulder reduced as I was unable to reduce it myself, I bit the bullet and had surgery. I was diagnosed with a torn glenoid labrum in my right shoulder that was the leading cause of the instability and recurring dislocations. While I suffered from dislocations, it took a force to dislodge my joint and my instability was not overtly bad in day to day life. Honestly, if I wasn't active as a skier and mountain biker and finding myself in situations where it was only a matter of time before I took a spill, I wouldn't have pulled the trigger; alas, that is not who I am.

    I was on a streak of once every 6 months essentially. One dislocation a winter during skiing, and once during the summer months. However, I had been good and avoided one since May 2011 when I erred in judgement and foolishly thought that partaking in the high-intensity sport of racquetball was a good choice. One overhanded power shot done while jumping later, I was on my way to the ortho clinic to have it reduced.

    I had a arthroscopic bankart repair done last Thursday, May 3. I had a nerve block done prior to the general anesthetic and woke up from the operation with no feeling in my right arm. This made the day of surgery recovery a breeze. I went home by 2:00 p.m. that afternoon. The nerve block began wearing off that evening. While I was prepared for excruciating pain, nothing prepared me for the total lack of pain that I experienced. It appears that every case is different, but I hit the jackpot with mine. The most I had at any point was discomfort. Maybe a 3 on the 1-10 pain scale. This was a pleasant surprise after the countless 12's I had logged on the pain scale during previous dislocations. I was weaning off the Percocet by Saturday and using them for sleeptime only. By Sunday, I was done with them altogether and just taking Ibuprofen for any slight soreness.

    I was directed to flex my elbow while keeping my elbow at my side and not moving my upper arm at all. And to work my forearm muscles by using a stress ball. I did these and was rewarded with an elbow that never got stiff and more comfort through and through. I removed the bandages on Saturday (this was actually the most painful part of the entire surgery). Pro-tip, have your significant other do it while you're in the shower. The warm water really helps loosen the adhesive they use for that sucker. Slow and steady wins the race here.

    I had my first post-op appointment on Wednesday, May 9, 6 days removed from surgery. The stitches were removed and I talked with the surgeon. He looked it over, said things seemed to look good and rehashed what I can and can't do for the next 3 weeks. No active movement on the upper arm. No external rotation of the arm. I can work with it directly in front of my though, such as cutting things on a cutting board, but that elbow needs to remain at my side and my hands directly in front of me. I was given my PT referral at this time with a limit of 40 degrees external passive rotation fro the next 3 weeks.

    I started my PT the same day Wednesday. I only had a whopping 15 degrees of passive external rotation and was assigned passive range of external rotation exercises as well as pendulum exercises to do multiple times daily. Went back in today (Thursday, May 11) and I was up to 35 degrees of passive external rotation. Drastic improvement in two days which makes me happy but it also means that I've hit the wall of progress for the next few weeks until I am allowed to begin doing further exercises.

    I had prepared myself for physical pain. I did not however, realize just HOW hard it is on you mentally when it is not painful. Knowing that you can't do jack-shit while not hurting at all is extremely difficult. I found solace in going to the gym yesterday and spending 45 minutes on the recumbent bike. Make sure you have a plan in place to stay active somehow or else you will go insane. Additionally, the less time you need to take off from work, the better. I am on vacation through the end of May (unrelated to the surgery) and I wish I was at work now as it would be something to keep me busy and help the time pass by.

    Lastly, I've been focusing on the small victories that come up. Especially since my progress is going to be halted until I am further out from the surgery, it is going to be the small victories that will keep me going.

    I am still somewhat shocked by how little pain there has been throughout it all and how quickly my range of motion came back once I started with the passive exercises.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    6,197
    Interesting to read your experience with this, I hope mine goes as well.

    My shoulder may be more fucked up than yours though. MRI in January confirmed anterior labral tear.

    My shoulder is extremely loose and dislocates at the slightest provocation. I've dislocated twice in my sleep since beginning of January. Usually it goes up and out and I've always been able to reduce it myself. Most recent occurrence it went down into my armpit and while I was eventually able to reduce it, it took over an hour and this was after I'd walked almost all the way back to the car from where we were skiing while holding my upper arm straight out from my body.

    I hope the fact it went out in a different direction this last time didn't damage the labrum in a different spot...

    I'm taking the rest of the season off skiing, making an appointment with a highly regarded shoulder specialist and implementing a workout/PT/strengthening plan so I can be in the best shape possible when I go into surgery.

    What is the timeframe for your recovery?
    ...Some will fall in love with life and drink it from a fountain that is pouring like an avalanche coming down the mountain...

    "I enjoy skinny skiing, bullfights on acid..." - Lacy Underalls

    The problems we face will not be solved by the minds that created them.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Pittsford, VT
    Posts
    452
    Quote Originally Posted by Chainsaw_Willie View Post
    implementing a workout/PT/strengthening plan so I can be in the best shape possible when I go into surgery.

    What is the timeframe for your recovery?
    I've been given the range of 3-6 months. Depends greatly on a wide number of factors limited to, but not only, how quickly I heal and how diligent I am with my PT to recover strength and range of motion. My surgeon made it VERY clear pre-op that the success of the outcome was 30% him. The rest was up to me and my post-op recovery and PT.

    As for pre-op strengthening of the shoulder, when I asked my surgeon his advice months prior, he said that while it wouldn't hurt, it is doubtful that it would make much of a difference in the healing as muscle-loss during the first few weeks of recovery is inevitable.

    Not much to report on at this point. Forward passive flexion has been added to my PT routine as of last week. Still no active exercises until after my 5 week post-op appointment. Slow going at this point. I expect things to move forward more rapidly once the 5 week threshold has been crossed. For now, it's pendulums, passive supine external rotation to 40 degrees, shoulder shugs and pinches, and passive forward flexion, multiple times a day on my own and going to PT once a week for further stretching.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Pittsford, VT
    Posts
    452
    Been a bit since I've provided any updates. At my 6th week post-op I graduated to Phase II of rehab which allows for movement from passive stretches to active exercises with the goal of gaining full range of motion and increasing strength and stability. I'm currently 7 weeks out from surgery.

    Things have gone relatively well overall. One road-block I am having though is that my external rotation has been extremely slow to improve beyond about 50 degrees. This is causing me difficulty in completing any exercises that tie in on external rotation as well as holding me back.

    Yesterday my PT advised me to step up my external stretching from 2x a day to as much as hourly in an attempt to break things up and get me moving good there. But he did not seem overly concerned.

    Question to anyone with experience: Is it somewhat common for external rotation to be a bit slow coming back compared to the other areas?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    1
    Thanks for posting this, any chance you feel like updating it? I just had the operation done on 6/21 and I'd love to hear how you're progressing. Thanks again!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Pittsford, VT
    Posts
    452
    Quote Originally Posted by philadendron View Post
    Thanks for posting this, any chance you feel like updating it? I just had the operation done on 6/21 and I'd love to hear how you're progressing. Thanks again!
    Apologies on not tending to this! Hadn't checked in on TGR in quite some time.

    Just had my 3-month post-op earlier this past week. Everything is nicely on track. They gave me the okay to ease into flatwater paddling and mountain biking as long as I use my head and avoid risky situations. Essentially work in slowly and don't fall, haha.

    Strength has come back very nicely. External rotation is a bit slow to come back, but per the doc, this is a good thing as it being too loose from the onset would be very bad. It is continuing to improve daily, but the stretching is unpleasant. I'd peg my recovery at about 85% complete based on how I feel.

    Also of note, it is freaking incredible to do an overhand stretch with both arms. Haven't been able to do that in 7 years! Haha.

    Honestly, the whole process went much smoother than I anticipated and the recovery has been quick for me.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    1
    Quote Originally Posted by BigAirSkier1580 View Post
    Apologies on not tending to this! Hadn't checked in on TGR in quite some time.

    Just had my 3-month post-op earlier this past week. Everything is nicely on track. They gave me the okay to ease into flatwater paddling and mountain biking as long as I use my head and avoid risky situations. Essentially work in slowly and don't fall, haha.

    Strength has come back very nicely. External rotation is a bit slow to come back, but per the doc, this is a good thing as it being too loose from the onset would be very bad. It is continuing to improve daily, but the stretching is unpleasant. I'd peg my recovery at about 85% complete based on how I feel.

    Also of note, it is freaking incredible to do an overhand stretch with both arms. Haven't been able to do that in 7 years! Haha.

    Honestly, the whole process went much smoother than I anticipated and the recovery has been quick for me.
    Your story is almost Identical to mine!

    I dislocated it first time messing around with a mate that pulled an intense grapple and arm bar on me, then recurring during climbing and anything else really.

    I'm 2 weeks out and the sling is hindering more than helping at this stage, and I still wear it in crowds etc - for others than myself.

    I'm really not feeling much pain at all but that is the most interesting part, you feel no pain, but you logically know you can't do SHIT on it haha

    So just waiting until I'm allowed to do more and more, and doing my best not to rush it.

    How are things progressing for you now?

    Cheers

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Posts
    2
    Thank you so much for this info. I go in for Bankart tear repair tomorrow 3/28/14. Have suffered instability for 10+ years stemming originally from sticking my arm in the face of a wave to pull in to the barrel and having the wave rip the arm right out. The power of waves on the North Shore of Oahu are everything they claim to be. From there, numerous episodes of the same while surfing and some while SUP surfing occurred. It all came to a head on 2/22 while SUP surfing in only head high waves. Board going left but body twisting right and paddle getting sucked up the face behind me while putting full pressure in with arms and shoulders. The right shoulder just could not handle...perfect storm.....pop! dislocate, went back in by itself but I knew right then and there I was in a new realm of messed up....no more ignoring my issue or doing minor self prescribed PT to band aid it. My MRI came back with Bankart tear with bone chipping/free body etc. I will report in after and once a week onward as I already feel better having an personal outlet through this forum.

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