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Michael’s Rotator Cuff Repair Patient Story

Posted on: March 7th, 2023 by Our Team

The Injury: Massive rotator cuff tear

It took eight years for Michael Sullivan to seek treatment for his torn rotator cuff. Many asked why. But for Sullivan, better known as “Sully”, the reason was always clear. Having been in recovery from addiction for over 13 years, Sully didn’t want to risk slipping back into old habits. “My biggest fear was going out on pain meds,” said Sully. “So I would just tolerate the pain,” he continued. In fact, Sully’s shoulder caused him enough pain to disrupt sleep. “I couldn’t pull my sheets up without waking myself up,” said Sully. He began to altogether avoid movements that would trigger the pain.

Treatment: Rotator cuff repair

After meeting with Dr. Petrigliano, though, Sully discovered that there was a way to address this serious qualm–an apprehension formidable enough to deter him from finding a resolution to his chronic pain and worsening shoulder injury. Dr. Petrigliano proposed the use of a nerve block catheter: a device that pumps local anesthetic medicine into the operative site, helping to manage pain without the need for opioid use after major surgery.

“It got me through the few days after surgery, and then it was just ibuprofen and tylenol,” said Sully, referring to the nerve block’s success.

Still, the extensive waiting period before seeking treatment lended Sully’s shoulder the time to severely deteriorate. Dr. Petrigliano determined that Sully’s rotator cuff was 70% torn prior to the surgery. Due to the extent of his tear, it weakened, and ultimately ruptured. Other structures in the shoulder, including his biceps tendon and labrum were also affected.

“He fixed everything while he was in there,” said Sully. “He even went around my tattoo,” he remarked, gleefully.

Recovering from rotator cuff repair surgery

After his surgery, the range of motion in his shoulder has remarkably improved, proven by his earnest demonstration of swinging his arm in wide circles.

“I’m very grateful for Dr. Frank [Petrigliano],” said Sully. “It’s more than him being an unreal surgeon, he’s just a great man,” he continued.

Sully’s success hasn’t stopped after surgery.

He continues his journey through recovery as a sober coach, providing counseling and support to pro-athletes, coaches, and CEOs in recovery. Equally as gratifying, Sully is back to his favorite activities, including working out and taking his two charming french bulldogs on walks in the South Bay.

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