Chandler Resident Regains Shoulder Function After Massive Rotator Cuff Tear is Repaired with Superior Capsular Reconstruction

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Lori pictured here in center with her two daughters and three of her grandchildren.

Three years ago, Lori Turner, a California native who has lived in Arizona since 1994, badly injured her shoulder swinging a 13-gallon trash bag full of lemons into the trash.

“Immediately I heard a rip and my arm started burning really bad,” said Lori. “I iced it and went to the chiropractor the next day, where I had cold laser done on it.”

After trying several low invasive therapies to restore her shoulder health, Lori finally had an MRI which revealed two complete tears in her shoulder, a torn bicep and another partial tear. In addition, her arm had atrophied a lot, as she had been “babying” it for nearly 3 years since the initial injury.

She went to an orthopedic surgeon who told her she needed physical therapy. “My chiropractor said, ‘no way’ that with the tears and damage, physical therapy would not work and could even make it worse.”

Lori shared that her chiropractor Dr. Stephen J. Hill (DC) in Tempe of Hill Functional Wellnessspent a lot of time researching online and asking colleagues for referrals and found Brian Gruber, MD, MBA, board certified orthopedic surgeon, believing that his area of expertise and reputation in shoulder surgery would be a good fit for her injury.

After reviewing her MRI and doing some additional tests, Dr. Gruber recommended a superior capsular reconstruction (SCR) surgery, a technique to address massive irreparable rotator cuff tears. It is a relatively newer procedure and few orthopedic doctors perform it.

“Dr. Gruber told me that this was the best option for restored shoulder function,” shared Lori. “He did tell me that the recovery period is longer than with other shoulder operations – up to an 18-month recovery.”

Lori’s surgery went very well and she completed her rehab at AZ Sports Center in Chandler (close to her home) with therapist Anna Thatcher. She did physical therapy three and then two times a week for seven months and then continued her rehab exercises at home. She is now at the one-year mark post-surgery and is very happy with her outcome.

“I am where I thought I’d be at this point in time,” she said. “Each day I continue to see improvement and can do things I couldn’t do for a long time like pick-up my grandchildren, swim in the pool and cook.”

Lori shared that she had a great experience with Dr. Gruber and his team, including his excellent physician assistant Rob Hutchinson, PA. She added that Dr. Gruber spends more time with patients than most surgeons and has a good bedside manner.

As she heads into the final six months of her recovery period, Lori feels confident that she’ll be at or very near 100 percent recovery by the 18-month mark. With seven grandchildren ranging from ages one-year-old to 22-years-old, Lori is excited to have her shoulder function back and to be able to be active with her grandchildren and more fully engaged in life again.

Learn more about Superior Capsular Reconstruction

Watch this excellent video to learn how SCR surgery is performed.