Due to the flexible nature of the shoulder, the rotator cuff -- a network of tendons that supports the shoulder joint -- is especially susceptible to injury. Recovering from a major injury in this area is an especially long and tedious process. In fact, approaching treatment the wrong way could mean that you never fully recover.
Rotator Cuff Surgery - The Most Common Treatment Option
Surgery is an extremely popular treatment option to recover from rotator cuff damage. In fact, it is the only treatment that many people (including doctors) are aware of. As such, about 600,000 Americans undergo some form of surgery for such an injury each year.
Being the most common treatment option, however, does not make surgery the best option. Here is what someone can expect when undergoing rotator cuff surgery:
Surgery Recovery Times
As the shoulder is an important part of your daily activities, you want to restore it to full functionality as soon as possible. Unfortunately, surgery won't allow you to start grabbing, lifting and throwing things like normal after a week.
According to the U.S. national library of medicine, when someone undergoes shoulder surgery, their arm is often in a restrictive sling for between 4 and 6 weeks. After this, there is still some healing to do. The total recovery time for surgery can extend to as long as 6 months. When considering a treatment option, many patients also have to considered time off of work. Depending on the surgery performed and extent of the injury, and the type of profession you have, a patient may miss quite a few weeks or even months off work.
Typical Risks Associated with Surgery
Rotator cuff surgery is an invasive procedure. It requires surgeons to cut, sew and displace tissue deep within the shoulder. As such, there are a number of risks that are inherent with it. A few of the risks include:
- Allergic reactions to anesthesia
- Breathing problems due to anesthesia
- Excessive bleeding
- Inadvertent damage to a nerve
- Major blood vessel damage
Is There Any Certainty?
Although people undergo surgery on a large scale, successful recovery is not guaranteed by this procedure. The likelihood of re-tearing a rotator cuff after surgery is usually anywhere between 1 in 5 to 9 in 10. As a result, there is a very large market for revision surgery.
This means that many doctors are expecting your rotator cuff surgery to fail and are waiting on standby to fix the mistake. Revision surgery forces patients to undergo the same difficult recovery process that they endured after the initial surgery.
Cost of Rotator Cuff Surgery
According to the Healthcare Bluebook, the fair market price for rotator cuff repair lasting 2 hours is about $6,000. (When was the last time you paid fair market price for a medical procedure?) The price does not include an overnight stay either. This cost can go up or down, depending on the length of the surgery and hospital the procedure is performed in. For those who have to undergo revision surgery, the cost is doubled.
Stem Cell Therapy - An Alternative Treatment
Although surgery is a popular option, it is no longer the only one. Thanks to modern science, doctors can now use regenerative stem cells that come straight from a patient's own body to restore a patient's shoulder to full functionality.
Let's take a look at what people can expect from stem cell therapy for rotator cuff injury.
Stem Cell Recovery time
Stem cell treatment is an in-office minimally invasive procedure that causes no real trauma to the patient's body. A small incision is necessary to harvest the fat stem cells, but when compared to surgery it’s like a small shower compared to a thunderstorm. Patients can normally resume activities a few hours after leaving the office. However, it is usually recommended that a 48hr rest period be adhered to, to avoid any unnecessary complications.
As a result, the overall recovery from the rotator cuff injury itself can happen faster. Patients typically start to see a noticeable reduction in pain after 1-2 months; this progresses over time, with patients normally seeing major recovery over the next 6 months.
The typical risks associated with stem cell treatment
As with all medical treatments, there are inherent risks with stem cell treatment. The biggest risk that stem cell patients face is infection. This risk comes from the fact that most stem cell rotator cuff treatments involve the use of a small amount of Adipose Tissue. Adipose tissue is a loose fibrous connective tissue that is packed with many fat cells. The tissue is harvested from a different part of the body containing Adipose Tissue, and then injected into injured shoulder. Occasionally, infection can set in but as the body continues to produce more white blood cells -- which normally happens fairly quickly -- the risk for infection goes down. Result certainty levels
As with all procedures, results vary. Those who undergo stem cell treatment normally have about a 15% likelihood of receiving no benefits from stem cell treatment. This means that stem cell treatments for rotator cuff injuries have about an 85% success rate.
Stem Cell Treatment Cost
The cost for stem cell treatment for your shoulder can vary based on you location and the services offered by the clinic. The typical cost ranges between $5,000 and $6,500. While insurance may or may not cover this form of treatment, certain clinics offer Care Credit as an additional financing option.
Did You Know?
The cost of certain in-network procedures can vary by over 400%. The biggest factor driving cost is where the care is provided.
Other Alternative Treatments
There are additional treatment options for a rotator cuff injury which can be explored before considering shoulder surgery. They include:
Its important to discuss all the possible treatment options you have available to you. Diving into surgery these days is not the only solution. Advances in medicine are always moving forward. Do you remember when Tommy John surgery was first performed? It was 1976 on Dodger pitcher Tommy John. Now that type of surgery is considered run of the mill.
No matter what, physical therapy is a must
Regardless of which primary treatment option you go with, you will need to undergo physical therapy to ensure full recovery for your shoulder. This will restore strength and flexibility to your muscles and tendons as the tissue recovers.
Recovery from your shoulder injury is possible
You no longer have to hope that treatment for your shoulder will work. Stem cell therapy treatments are making rotator cuff repair a reality for countless people like you.
As with any form of medical treatment, you should consult with your physician before embarking on any treatment plan. The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be deemed accurate for the purposes of diagnosing your particular medical condition.