Shoulder Surgery/Recovery Time/Playing Professionally

dirtcity

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Hey y'all.

So I'm 32, and in my teens I suffered some injuries from martial arts, as well as being a bit of a daredevil/idiot. One of the most lasting injuries that affects me is my shoulder. My physical therapist told me she's 90% sure I have a tear in my longhead biceps tendon, and that's led to whole slew of other issues revolving around the shoulder/trapezius/scapular area. It actually doesn't mess with my drumming much somehow, but in pretty much every other area of my life it's an issue. Very painful day to day as well. I'd just kind of figured I'd have to live with it after seeing a bunch of doctors over the past few years with no answers other than exploratory surgery with no promise of results.

My PT floated the idea of having it surgically repaired now that we've at least got it pinpointed to an actual existing problem. So I'm thinking that while my band is off the road for at least a year due to COVID, now may be the time to go get this sorted out finally. It's about a 4 to 6 month rehab period after the surgery. The only downside is I was working on starting some remote recording sessions and picking up clients to keep busy artistically and make some extra money while I can't tour. But she also said it could get worse as I get older and the partial tear could become a full on tear/popeye arm (if you're unfamiliar, google it, but ew). Seems like 6 months off now is better than the potential for total failure later on where I may have to cancel half a year's worth of gigs or even worse.

Really just kind of looking for discussion here I guess. I've been lucky to never have any surgeries so far, so I've never had to take an extended time away from playing and performing. I'm not scared of going under the knife or anything like that. My PT recommended a surgeon who she's sent many people to in the past with great results.

So to the group: Anyone here ever had this particular surgery? Other surgeries that led to a lengthy time away from playing the drums? How did you cope? Did you just work on foot exercises and single hand stuff? Total vacation from playing? Not totally sure just yet.
 

Mackermanesq

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Never had it, but I know Dusty Watson from the Sonics had a torn labrum and had surgery for it, he was back to powerhouse drumming in about six I think
 

JimmySticks

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I think having any surgery that can lay you up for 6 months, needs a second opinion. You need to find out the success rate for this type of operation, is it one time only, side effects etc. Your still pretty young.


But if your going to have to have the surgery, I'd say get it done now with everything quiet. Good luck!
 

langmick

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I've heard nothing good about shoulder surgery. I would be very careful, and see if your PT can't do anything for you.

Aging sucks, this much I do know for sure!
 

JazzDrumGuy

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I had a car crash in '01 and tore up my dominant right wrist and shoulder. Had wrist surgery about 11 mos later. Brutal! Had shoulder about 1.5 yrs. Not as bad. All I can say is do PT asap! It sounds crazy but within 4 mos, I was able to swim and still doing good. Didn't really affect drumming other than trying to do less heavy lifting of gear for gigs. Wrist surgy took a few years to adjust to, affected playing (especially the jazz ride) and at least my L. hand got better. Good luck!
 

Rockin' Billy

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As shortly as I can describe here it goes.
1996 (at age 36)I fell 2 stories from an industrial building when the steps on a fire escape broke. I landed on my left shoulder and was awake. Taken to local hospital and family called in as outlook not good. Air lifted to Westchester Medical.Spent 5 weeks getting put together. Right pelvis blew apart from impact of left shoulder. Right pelvis is plates and hardware. Left shoulder has a plate from just above my elbow to under shoulder cap w/hardware. Tendons/nerves reattached. One plate w/screws on each side of jaw. Couldn’t walk and no use of left arm and jaw wired shut. Only reason I lived I was told was that I was in great shape. Had worked at a gym for 5 years and continued to work out after leaving.

Spent 3 months in rehab facility to learn to walk and get use of shoulder/arm. 2nd week in while doing super light bicep curl from wheelchair Bicep Tendon came off. (It had been reattached) Extremely painful. May be close to what you are dealing with. The decision was made not to reattach as they would have to go back in and I’d have to start all over again.

Sooooo, my friends from band came in to rehab w/snare drum for me w/their guitars and we made a live recording from my room. I sat up in bed as I still could not walk. It was great! Nurses and facility were so cool about it. Uplifting and I still have the recording we made. Playing the snare became incorporated in rehab for shoulder/arm recovery.
Next was 2 years out patient rehab. Near the end of of second year I was playing and touring with band again. I still have pain everyday since the accident. I have had my hip replaced in 2012. I do need a total reverse shoulder surgery, but only when it comes to the time I can’t stand the pain anymore. I hope to die before that happens as it will be major as half the hardware I have will have to be removed with a long recovery time with no guarantees of better range of motion(very limited mobility since accident)or pain expectancy. I still play drums and enjoy it. Pain seems to go away(for the most part. Still have load in and out!)when I play and my head ‘clears.’

To end the babble, if there is any chance you can go to rehab to strengthen your specific injury, or a pain management facility, try that first. Let that surgery be a last resort...that’s my opinion. On the other side, if you’re ready to go for surgery and you have the downtime, nows the time to do it. Shoulders are tricky. When you go to rehab, put in your best effort as it will pay off. Don’t over do it! Listen to your Dr.’s and physical therapist. Choose either that you are comfortable with and have great reputations. Some may not have the greatest bedside manor, but that’s not their job to be your best friend. If you get lucky you’ll get both traits. I did and it does make a difference.

Good luck to you.
 

JimmySticks

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As shortly as I can describe here it goes.
1996 (at age 36)I fell 2 stories from an industrial building when the steps on a fire escape broke. I landed on my left shoulder and was awake. Taken to local hospital and family called in as outlook not good. Air lifted to Westchester Medical.Spent 5 weeks getting put together. Right pelvis blew apart from impact of left shoulder. Right pelvis is plates and hardware. Left shoulder has a plate from just above my elbow to under shoulder cap w/hardware. Tendons/nerves reattached. One plate w/screws on each side of jaw. Couldn’t walk and no use of left arm and jaw wired shut. Only reason I lived I was told was that I was in great shape. Had worked at a gym for 5 years and continued to work out after leaving.

Spent 3 months in rehab facility to learn to walk and get use of shoulder/arm. 2nd week in while doing super light bicep curl from wheelchair Bicep Tendon came off. (It had been reattached) Extremely painful. May be close to what you are dealing with. The decision was made not to reattach as they would have to go back in and I’d have to start all over again.

Sooooo, my friends from band came in to rehab w/snare drum for me w/their guitars and we made a live recording from my room. I sat up in bed as I still could not walk. It was great! Nurses and facility were so cool about it. Uplifting and I still have the recording we made. Playing the snare became incorporated in rehab for shoulder/arm recovery.
Next was 2 years out patient rehab. Near the end of of second year I was playing and touring with band again. I still have pain everyday since the accident. I have had my hip replaced in 2012. I do need a total reverse shoulder surgery, but only when it comes to the time I can’t stand the pain anymore. I hope to die before that happens as it will be major as half the hardware I have will have to be removed with a long recovery time with no guarantees of better range of motion(very limited mobility since accident)or pain expectancy. I still play drums and enjoy it. Pain seems to go away(for the most part. Still have load in and out!)when I play and my head ‘clears.’

To end the babble, if there is any chance you can go to rehab to strengthen your specific injury, or a pain management facility, try that first. Let that surgery be a last resort...that’s my opinion. On the other side, if you’re ready to go for surgery and you have the downtime, nows the time to do it. Shoulders are tricky. When you go to rehab, put in your best effort as it will pay off. Don’t over do it! Listen to your Dr.’s and physical therapist. Choose either that you are comfortable with and have great reputations. Some may not have the greatest bedside manor, but that’s not their job to be your best friend. If you get lucky you’ll get both traits. I did and it does make a difference.

Good luck to you.
Wow, tough story, but your still here, God Bless!
 

kevin klever

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Getting a second opinion sounds like not a bad idea, but in general the older I get (35 next month) the more I recognize the value of preventative care. Obviously that involved exercise, healthy diet etc but your situation seems like a good example of something that will come back to bite you if you don't deal with it now. 6 months away from playing sounds like a lot but it will go by in a flash. One of my heroes, Ari Hoenig, had a pretty big shoulder surgery last year which seems pretty scary for a pro like that who is gigging 250+ nights of the year, but he was back killing it in a few months like nothing had happened.

Another thing that I've been thinking about a lot during the virus shutdown of my music career is how many things go into making a good musician other than their skill and dedication to music. I suspect that being free from chronic pain in your daily life will make you ten times the musician you are today. Sleeping better, having better mood, better focus, funner relationships - All those things carry over immeasurably to the ability to play music at a high level.

For my part, I want to be playing drums at a pro level when I'm Roy Haynes' age, and it's totally possible with a bit of planning. Good luck and keep us updated!
 

dirtcity

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As shortly as I can describe here it goes.
1996 (at age 36)I fell 2 stories from an industrial building when the steps on a fire escape broke. I landed on my left shoulder and was awake. Taken to local hospital and family called in as outlook not good. Air lifted to Westchester Medical.Spent 5 weeks getting put together. Right pelvis blew apart from impact of left shoulder. Right pelvis is plates and hardware. Left shoulder has a plate from just above my elbow to under shoulder cap w/hardware. Tendons/nerves reattached. One plate w/screws on each side of jaw. Couldn’t walk and no use of left arm and jaw wired shut. Only reason I lived I was told was that I was in great shape. Had worked at a gym for 5 years and continued to work out after leaving.

Spent 3 months in rehab facility to learn to walk and get use of shoulder/arm. 2nd week in while doing super light bicep curl from wheelchair Bicep Tendon came off. (It had been reattached) Extremely painful. May be close to what you are dealing with. The decision was made not to reattach as they would have to go back in and I’d have to start all over again.

Sooooo, my friends from band came in to rehab w/snare drum for me w/their guitars and we made a live recording from my room. I sat up in bed as I still could not walk. It was great! Nurses and facility were so cool about it. Uplifting and I still have the recording we made. Playing the snare became incorporated in rehab for shoulder/arm recovery.
Next was 2 years out patient rehab. Near the end of of second year I was playing and touring with band again. I still have pain everyday since the accident. I have had my hip replaced in 2012. I do need a total reverse shoulder surgery, but only when it comes to the time I can’t stand the pain anymore. I hope to die before that happens as it will be major as half the hardware I have will have to be removed with a long recovery time with no guarantees of better range of motion(very limited mobility since accident)or pain expectancy. I still play drums and enjoy it. Pain seems to go away(for the most part. Still have load in and out!)when I play and my head ‘clears.’

To end the babble, if there is any chance you can go to rehab to strengthen your specific injury, or a pain management facility, try that first. Let that surgery be a last resort...that’s my opinion. On the other side, if you’re ready to go for surgery and you have the downtime, nows the time to do it. Shoulders are tricky. When you go to rehab, put in your best effort as it will pay off. Don’t over do it! Listen to your Dr.’s and physical therapist. Choose either that you are comfortable with and have great reputations. Some may not have the greatest bedside manor, but that’s not their job to be your best friend. If you get lucky you’ll get both traits. I did and it does make a difference.

Good luck to you.

WOW. That's a heck of a story, and I'm glad you're still out there kicking it, man. Definitely seems like your injuries were far, far more severe than mine are. You seem to have a great attitude too, which I think has to go a long way.

Appreciate everyone's thoughts. As far as looking for second opinions, I've been to somewhere around a dozen chiropractors, physical therapists, specialists, shoulder gurus, and orthopedics over the past six years or so. The pain has been going on for roughly 15 years at this point. I've had x rays, MRIs, the MRI with dye injected into your body (forget the exact name), and nothing showed definitively. I went to the West Virginia University Mountaineer football team shoulder guy who said, "OH." when he heard the noise my shoulder blade makes. haha

My current PT is the first person who has ever been able to help me for any length of time at all. She recommended a shoulder surgeon in Columbus, OH, who she's sent many patients to in the past with lots of success. She's huge into crossfit and just being the best you can physically be. Her confidence in this guy is really the only reason I'm even considering it at this point. She also said he's very conservative with his practice, so if I meet with him and he thinks I'm better off without it, then he won't do it. Gotta respect that.
 

greegor

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No where near as traumatic, but dislocated both shoulders when I was younger than you. They said I'd never have enough range of motion to play drums, throw frisbees (it was a thing back then). Focused hard on the PT and it never stopped me. Now on the other end of my lifespan, I've had carpal tunnel surgery and a few trigger finger release surgeries that I elected to, all so I can continue to jam.

Sounds like PT just can't fix your situation. Get a second opinion, especially if you're not comfortable with the doc, but keep the long view of where you want to be in 5-10 years.
 

MicMurrael

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Really the story is a bit sad but I hope in the end everything went well.
In general, I am very sad when I hear cases like this and I am sorry that so many cases with negative effects are.
Even my friend recently had some plastic surgery and everything didn't go well and she has big problems now.
But anyway there are many good causes and even I personally did some priced at cosmeticsurgeryforyou.com and I had no complications along the way.
It depends a lot on each body and the company you turn to.
 
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supershifter2

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I gotta have both shoulder joint replaced. Bone on bone , top and front rotator ligaments in both are torn completely in half, bone spurs in both joints. No problem playing or shifting the truck trans.
 

cworrick

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I think having any surgery that can lay you up for 6 months, needs a second opinion. You need to find out the success rate for this type of operation, is it one time only, side effects etc. Your still pretty young.


But if your going to have to have the surgery, I'd say get it done now with everything quiet. Good luck!

^^^ THIS ^^^

The open time frame is perfect. You won't feel the need to overly rush back to playing form and do more damage. Age + recoup time + available time to recoup = slam dunk Do It. You will be much happier afterwards.
 


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