Shouldering the Weight – Arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery got Gene Sterle bench-pressing again.

Nearly four years ago, while weightlifting on an incline bench at the gym, engineering design/develop- ment manager and machine operator Eugene Sterle knew he was in big trouble when he felt and heard the pop of his shoulder, followed by extreme pain. After his initial “recovery,” he could move his arm every way but one–which resulted in “put-you-on-the-floor” pain.

At a friend’s suggestion, Gene made an appointment with Lake Health Orthopedic and Spine Center physician Eric Parsons, MD. A shoulder specialist, Dr. Parsons examined Gene’s shoulder and ordered an MRI, which confirmed a common type of rotator cuff tear.

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that are key in lifting and rotating the arm and are attached to the shoulder joint by tendons. When Gene lifted that weight, the tendon tore away from the bone and retracted.

Dr. Parsons explained Gene’s options. He chose surgery, the best option to regain full use of his shoulder and arm, which he needs for his job. In November 2008, Dr. Parsons completed minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery through four small incisions, repositioning and reattaching the tendon with small biodegradable screws. Following the 90-minute outpatient surgery and physical therapy, Gene, now 49 and still bench- pressing, reports 100 percent recovery.

“Everyone–the office, hospital and therapy staff– was exceptionally professional, kind and knowledge- able,” says Gene. “I listened and did what they said because that’s what they do for a living and they’re good at it. My pain was well controlled and today my shoulder works as well or better than before the injury and surgery.”

“We have much better options today than we had just a few years ago,” explains Dr. Parsons. “Arthroscopic techniques and effective pain management strategies during and after surgery have completely transformed the experience of undergoing rotator cuff surgery.”


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