Click here for interactive radar

YOUR HEALTH: Repairing the rotator cuff

JACKSONVILLE, Florida – Reginald or "Reggie" Lucas is a coach who loves playing golf.   But after tearing his rotator cuff, his entire life was impacted.

"Because I was really limited to a lot of things I couldn't do because I had to sleep on one side of the bed, and didn't get enough sleep because of the pain I would be in," he explained.

After five failed rotator cuff surgeries, Reggie went to see Dr. Kevin Kaplan, who is head team physician for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"He was in such pain with limited function he said I'd like to try anything to make this better," said Dr. Kaplan.

Dr. Kaplan recommended Superior Capsule Reconstruction. using donated tissue to recreate the rotator cuff.

"We attach that to both the socket and the ball, and it acts almost like a reverse trampoline and it keeps the ball centered in the socket."

The surgery was successful.   Reggie`s pain was gone almost immediately.

"And when I came back and I showed Doc how the range of motion was with the arm, he said 'I release you to putt', well I didn't tell him I was already swinging," said Lucas.

There are many types of surgery that include arthroscopic tendon repair, open tendon repair, bone spur removal, tendon transfer and shoulder replacement.

  • In arthroscopic tendon repair surgeons insert a tiny camera and tools to reattach the tendons to the bone.
  • In open tendon repair, the surgeon works through a large incision to reattach the tendon.
  • If there is an overgrowth of the bone irritating the rotator cuff then a bone spur removal is used to cut off the excess bone and smooth over a portion of the tendon.
  • When the torn tendon is too damaged, then surgeons may decide to use a nearby tendon as a replacement.
  • Lastly, a shoulder replacement is used when injuries become too severe.

"His results have been fantastic and he has been one of the biggest advocates I've had," said Dr. Kaplan.

"In fact I've had patients who were nervous about the procedure and was able to talk them through his process and how well he`s done with this."

"On a scale of one to ten," added Lucas, "I'm at a 'Ten Plus'."

NEW PROCEDURE: A new surgical procedure was pioneered by Dr. Teruhisa Mihata in 2007. This procedure is for those with irreparable rotator cuff tears. It utilizes a graft from the superior glenoid to the greater tuberosity to stabilize the humeral head. The surgery also involves using human dermal allograft and absorbable suture anchors. This procedure allows restored shoulder function, and delays the development of advanced cuff tears. Similar to the rotator cuff repair rehabilitation, the patient is in a sling following surgery for about six to eight weeks. Range of motion begins to return around six weeks, and strengthening occurs at about ten to 12 weeks.
(Sources: https://www.healio.com/orthopedics/arthroscopy/news/print/orthopedics-today/%7B0c782225-11e4-4201-8d9d-265d07558ee4%7D/arthroscopic-superior-capsule-reconstruction-for-irreparable-rotator-cuff-tears).

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.