Doctors at BLK-Max Super Speciality Hospital have observed a sudden surge in the number of patients requiring shoulder arthroscopic surgeries, especially in the post- second wave period of Covid. As compared to the earlier period where the number of such shoulder surgeries was limited to only 5-6 per month, the number of such repair procedures have now more than doubled over the course of the past three months.
The factors that have led to this abrupt rise in cases are self-medication as well as improper treatment due to the lockdown and the reluctance to visit hospitals due to the Covid scare.
Doctors are constantly advising that it is extremely essential that any patient experiencing shoulder pain for more than 4-6 weeks should consult a shoulder specialist so that the problem of ‘rotator cuff tear’ in the shoulders is diagnosed early and appropriate treatment, which is often non-surgical in nature initially, can be started.
Similar was the case of a young housewife, Mrs Premlata (age 32 years) who experienced a sudden jerk in her left shoulder while carrying a small bag. Little did she realize then that this seemingly trivial activity would lead to what is known as ‘rotator cuff tear’ of her left shoulder and she would be required to go in for a surgery for its treatment. While bearing with the pain for over a year, she consulted doctors for subsiding her severe pain, and by the time she made a second visit to BLK Hospital, where through MRI she was diagnosed with a full thickness rotator cuff tear, necessarily requiring a surgery. She successfully underwent arthroscopic rotator cuff repair surgery of her left shoulder, and is relieved of her pain completely now.
“Timely intervention will not only allow the doctors to opt for non-surgical treatment options, but also save the patients from the discomfort associated with surgery (time loss in surgery, post-op recovery & pain, hospital stay and work-time loss) as well as the costs incurred. It is only when patients neglect their shoulder pain over a longer period of time that they may require Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff surgery. We are increasingly noticing a surge in shoulder arthroscopic surgeries and would like to warn the general public that in case this pain persists and is neglected for long then surgery becomes the only option, which could have been avoided. The prevalence of the problem is, as it is, very high, as 40% people above the age of 55 suffer shoulder pain of which nearly 80% have hidden rotator cuff tear.” Said Dr Deepak Chaudhary, Senior Director, Arthroscopy & Sports Medicine Centre, BLK-Max Super Speciality Hospital
“With the long phase of Covid-19 extending for more than one and a half years, many patients with shoulder pain are not realizing the gravity of this ailment. Premlata is just one example of a patient who took her shoulder pain lightly and didn’t consult a specialist in time, owing to the Covid pandemic. Many patients with shoulder pain do not sustain any injury and experience only mild pain or discomfort initially, which increases progressively and becomes particularly severe at night.” Said Dr. Shiv Chouksey, Consultant – Center for Arthroscopy and Sports Medicine, BLK-Max Hospital, New Delhi
Additionally, many such patients are casually treated as cases of Frozen Shoulder (a condition which leads to stiffness and pain in the shoulder joints) by general practitioners as well as physiotherapists and are subjected to long periods of physiotherapy without any significant relief. It is only once these patients consult a shoulder specialist that the true extent of the injury is revealed, which is often a completely torn rotator cuff with retraction and more often than not requires an arthroscopic repair.