Patricia Hanson, 77, of Owatonna, Minnesota, was no stranger to pain that would start in her elbow and move up through her back muscle. She had rotator cuff surgery done on both shoulders to relieve the pain.
Then the pain in her right shoulder returned while she was taking care of her terminally ill husband. She was his sole caretaker for more than a year.
“I knew I was doing things I shouldn’t have been doing, but also knew that caring for him would be temporary,” says Hanson. Her husband passed away in March 2016 and by April, she had already made an appointment to see David Ivance, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic Health System in Owatonna.
Dr. Ivance and Hanson came up with a treatment plan together. They first tried a cortisone injection, hoping to relieve the pain and inflammation in her shoulder without having to do surgery. The injection did not alleviate the pain, so Hanson made the decision to take the next step. She called to schedule an MRI, which showed that she had torn her rotator cuff and bicep muscle. Hoping to enjoy the rest of the summer, Hanson decided to bear the pain and wait until late September to have surgery.
Since having gone through the same procedure twice before, Hanson knew what to expect. Dr. Ivance performed surgery on a Friday morning and by mid-afternoon, Hanson was home resting in her recliner. Hanson’s daughter stayed with her for the first two nights she was at home because of the pain medication. But by day three, Hanson was only taking an over-the-counter pain medication and sleeping in her own bed.
"The first night back in my own bed I slept through the entire night,” says Hanson. “I hadn’t slept through the night in years because I was always waking up with pain.”
On the road to recovery
Working with a physical therapist and exercising on her own a couple times a week, Hanson was lifting weights and using resistance bands to gain her strength back. After wearing a sling for six weeks, Hanson finally felt she was able to function fully. “I was able to make my bed, wash the dishes, cook dinner and vacuum without the pain,” says Hanson.
“Having a torn rotator cuff is extremely painful, and the road to recovery after surgery can sometimes be challenging,” says Dr. Ivance. “But, Patricia was patient and followed the exercises prescribed, which has proven to be a success in her recovery. She feels better than she has in years.”
“I was a bit hesitant to have the surgery again, because I was older and not as strong as I was during my previous surgeries, but Dr. Ivance and his team were wonderful,” says Hanson. “I have absolutely no regrets, as I am living pain-free and enjoying life again.”