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Seniors and Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery: July 13, 2011

Gordon Cook is constantly on the move.

“I ride a bike, I rollerblade, I’m at the gym.”

At 80 years old, nothing short of an injury was going to slow him down, and that’s exactly what did.

“I wanted to be able to life over my head, not a lot of weight but just enough exercise. And it was hurting me,” says Cook.

Turns out Gordon had a small tear just above his rotator cuff. He wanted to regain movement, but didn’t want a long recovery. It made him an ideal candidate for arthroscopic shoulder surgery.

“Things have become less invasive, years ago we had a big open incision lots of blood loss, pain, dysfunction after surgery,” says Dr. Andrew Follweiller orthopedic surgeon with Lee Memorial Health System.

In an arthroscopic procedure, surgeons insert a small camera into the affected area.

“It typically involves making a few percutaneous or poke holes in the skin and gaining access to the shoulder joint itself,” says Dr. Follweiller.

Once they find the problem, they fix it through a few small holes. A couple of stitches is all they leave behind.

Shoulder injuries usually fall into two categories. People over 40 have problems with their rotator cuff because of years of natural wear. Under the age of 40 most tears relate to sports injuries or accidents.

“There’s a couple different procedures that we do but the basic premise is to do as little damage as possible to get in and exact the maximal benefit,” says Dr. Follweiller.

In the past, older patients often skipped surgery rather than risk complications. Now experts are finding that arthroscopic procedures offer a safe way to rid their pain.

“I was willing to do that so I could get back to what I’m doing. I’m too active I cant let something like this go,” says Cook.