In this case, a patient came into the office with a dislocated shoulder. Upon examination, we found remnants of an old injury that left his shoulder anatomy compromised and a new injury that was severely hindering his shoulder function. Many doctors may have opted to only address the new injury, but we knew that the first objective was to restore the patient’s anatomy to normal (fix the old injury) and then address the new injury.
After thorough evaluation, we discovered scapular dyskinesis (abnormal movement) with winging, a prominent AC joint (the AC joint is the joint where the collarbone and shoulder blade meet) and unstable left shoulder. An MRI further revealed an anterior labral tear and bankart lesion. The scapular dyskinesis and prominent AC joint were due to the old injury that had not healed properly and likely led to the anterior labral tear and bankart lesion. In order to give the patient the best chance of full recovery and normal shoulder function, we had to address both injuries.
We opted for staged surgical procedures. First, we would need to reconstruct the AC Joint, then 2 months later we would perform a second arthroscopic surgery to repair the bankart lesion and anterior labral tear. Reconstructing the AC Joint was the first priority. By performing the reconstruction, we would be restoring the shoulder to its natural anatomy. Restoration of the natural anatomy gives the patient the best chances for a full recovery from the second injury. By ignoring the old injury (which led to the abnormality of the AC Joint), the chances of a full recovery from the labral tear and bankart lesion would be slim and leave the shoulder more prone to future injury.
Following the surgeries and postoperative physical therapy, we could not be more pleased with the results. Four months after the second procedure: the scapular winging disappeared, the patient was pain-free, the instability of the shoulder was gone and the patient was able to return to full work duty without any restrictions. The patient is thrilled with the results. Following his first injury, he had never returned to “normal”, but now he reports that he is better than ever. He has complete range of motion in the shoulder and is living pain free. A complete success in our book!