How to handle a shoulder injury

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

By: Jeff Ash


You have a shoulder injury. It might be your rotator cuff, but you aren’t sure. What comes next?


Dr. Shawn Hennigan, an orthopedic surgeon with Orthopedics & Sports Medicine BayCare Clinic, outlines the process.


“The first step when someone comes in to see me usually involves an interview process to find out about their problem and how it’s affecting them. Frequently, then, we follow up with a physical examination, X-rays in the office. Depending on what the problem is, we may recommend an MRI scan if we think there may be some structural damage or a problem like that,” he says.


Problems with the rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint, are common.


“Once a decision is made to have surgery, most surgeries for rotator cuff are arthroscopic procedures, which means they’re minimally invasive,” says Hennigan, who is fellowship trained in shoulder surgery. He also is board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.


“A patient comes in under anesthesia. We make small incisions around the shoulder and we insert a camera and look at all the damage and we can address and fix all at the same time.”


The advantages to arthroscopic surgery, besides being minimally invasive, are that it offers a shorter recovery time and less pain.


After shoulder surgery, especially one in which tendons are repaired, patients have their arm in a sling for about six weeks. Even after those six weeks of limited activity, it’ll be a while before they’re back to normal.


“Full recovery to gain all their motion, all their strength and function back frequently takes as long as about six months. Could be a long recovery,” Hennigan says. “We frequently tell them to slow down.”


Hennigan discussed shoulder surgery with Katie Phernetton on a segment of “Good Day Wisconsin” on WLUK-TV in Green Bay.


Dr. Shawn Hennigan sees patients in Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay and Marinette. To request an appointment, call 877-884-8796 in Green Bay, 920-743-4844 in Sturgeon Bay or 715-732-8200 in Marinette, or do so online.


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BayCare Clinic,, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.