“My doctor initially assumed it was nerve damage, but after physical therapy didn’t help, he ordered an MRI and sent me to see Dr. Gruber,” shared Paradise Valley Community College Professor of Philosophy Kelly Fitzsimmons Burton about what happened to her arm in 2018. After diagnosis, Kelly’s arm required a complex surgery that included a rotator cuff repair, biceps tenodesis and distal clavicle excision.
Dr. Gruber Repaired “A Lot More Damage Than the MRI Showed”
After reviewing her MRI, Dr. Brian Gruber, MD, MBA, board certified orthopedic surgeon, explained that two of Kelly’s four tendons of her rotator cuff – the subscapularis and supraspinatus – needed to be repaired. She also needed biceps tenodesis, a surgical procedure often required with rotator cuff repair. A biceps tenodesis in often performed when there is pain to A biceps tenodesis in often performed to alleviate pain related to inflammation or tearing of the biceps tendon at or near its origin in the shoulder joint. Additionally, this modality restores and preserves the integrity of the biceps.
Kelly scheduled surgery for June 2019, after the spring academic year at PVCC was over. Prior to surgery, Dr. Gruber explained that there was probably more damage than the MRI showed. He asked Kelly if he should go ahead with repairs. She answered with a resounding “Yes! Just fix everything,” she recalls saying.
Dr. Gruber’s suspicions about additional problems were correct. Examination of Kelly’s acromioclavicular (AC) joint at the top of the shoulder revealed enough narrowing to warrant a distal clavicle excision, in which a small portion of bone is removed to decompress the joint. The result is that the AC joint will move more easily and less painfully with overhead and across-body motions.
“I got the level of excellence I was looking for,” says Kelly of Dr. Gruber’s surgical skills. “Eight months later, and I feel great!”
Physical Therapy Rounded Off Recovery
Kelly completed six months of physical therapy post-surgery with Integrated Orthopedics physical therapy team, starting in June after her surgery, which she had scheduled during the summer academic break. When her schedule changed again in September, she switched physical therapists. The transition was seamless. “Both were great,” she remembers.
It’s hard to believe that for a year, Kelly was unable to write on a whiteboard during her class lectures and other public speaking engagements. She couldn’t type at the keyboard or even cook, an activity she enjoys tremendously. “The disruptions were pretty thorough,” she said.
Today, she’s fully engaged with teaching and speaking and has been cleared to ease back into her favorite exercise – lifting weights.
“It’s all due to Dr. Gruber’s enormous skill and knowledge,” concluded Kelly.