A couple of years ago, Scott Reilly – an electrician in his 30s – was in an aerial bucket working on a power pole, pushing a heavy object up over his head. His job requires him to regularly lift and hold heavy cables and equipment while he installs or repairs electrical lines.
Reilly relies on a full functioning upper body to work. In this instance, the object came back down and Reilly quickly reacted, injuring his shoulder. At first, he felt pain in his back. He felt better the next day and went back to work.
Within a few days, he began to experience pain when he lifted his arm very high. He sought treatment from Evan Crain, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon with Christiana Care’s Center for Advanced Joint Replacement. Dr. Crain initially thought Reilly had injured his rotator cuff. He treated Reilly with medication and recommended rehabilitative exercises.
Reilly kept working but still had pain, especially when lifting overhead or when pulling things such as cables. Dr. Crain treated Reilly with a cortisone shot several times, but the symptoms returned.
In January 2010, Dr. Crain performed arthroscopic surgery on Reilly’s shoulder, repairing a tear in his rotator cuff and treating the bursitis that was aggravating the situation. At the insistence of Dr. Crain, Reilly did light exercise with his shoulder the day after surgery. Within four weeks, he was able to do light work, and within eight weeks he was able to return to his normal work duties.
Reilly felt noticeable pain for a couple of days after surgery, but it subsided quickly, and full function of his shoulder returned. Reilly is back to work and able to do everything he could before. He appreciated Dr. Crain’s conservative, thoughtful approach to his injury.
“In orthopaedics, we have many therapies that help patients to quickly return to work. Reilly was an active participant in his recovery; he did all exercises and most importantly shared when he thought a therapy was not working,” said Dr. Crain.
According to Dr. Crain, many people who work in occupations that require repetitive motion, strength and stamina work through the pain. They feel pain is part of the job. Unfortunately, this often leads to debilitating injury.
Fortunately, Reilly realized that his pain was not normal and sought help from a Christiana Care orthopaedic surgeon.