SLAP – Bankart Shoulder Surgery

I played on several softball leagues last summer and during one all-day tournament I was in, a sharply hit ball came up the middle. I started ranging from my shortstop position and when it was clear I wouldn’t get there in time, I dove. Stretched out horizontal, I thought for sure I was going to make ESPN on this one, but I didn’t… and when I started getting up I knew immediately something was wrong with my shoulder.

10 days ago, I went under the knife to repair a labrum tear (SLAP / Bankart lesions) in my left shoulder. I was scared, I’m not going to lie. Recently, I lost one of my best friend’s Dad due to complications from an elective surgery (RIP – Rob) and it weighed heavy on my mind.

Thankfully, it was successful, lots of love to modern medicine and my surgeon!

But it wasn’t a decision I took lightly.

First, I Tried to Figure Out All My Options

After going insane checking out all the angles, it turns out if the body can’t heal cartilage damage in the labrum in the first 6 months after the injury it is basically impossible for the body to reattach the cartilage. It was either surgery, plus a lengthy rehab, or I would have to cope with early onset arthritis and decreased range of motion (ROM) later in life.

The MRI results showed damage around the bottom of my labrum, called a Bankart lesion and potentially a SLAP lesion. The doctor thought it looked typical of what he sees on a daily basis. But I still pressed him hard on all kinds of questions, to which he told me he does about 300 of these a year and works regularly with college athletes (MSU) and explained why all my crazy alternative methods wouldn’t apply in this situation, I was confident I had the right guy.

The Full Story Isn’t Known Until They Open You Up

Huge thanks to my family and friends for the support and all the questions I laid on them. My sister, who has the most experience in this area (ACL surgery and exercise science degree), nailed it on the head. She told me the doctors can only tell so much from the Arthrogram (MRI) results and it is likely they could find more damage once they got in there.

She was spot on. The surgeon found a chunk of cartilage floating around near the tear. He also found that the tear was worse than he thought, the whole side of my labrum was detached from top to bottom. Lucky for me, all my tendons were in good shape. 5 sutures (think screws), 3 holes in my arm, and 2 hours later I was all put back together. The cool thing is the anchors are bioabsorbable…

Recovery starts with 4 weeks in a sling and very limited range of motion (ROM), rehab for a couple months, and full strength with ROM somewhere between 3 and 6 months. I’ve heard most people end up near 5 months, but obviously my goal is 3. 🙂

My sister gave me another great tip to talk with the surgeon about and find a rehab specialist who was younger, and on the cutting edge of rehab programs. She was adamant that I find someone who would modify the rehab program and push me as I progress, instead of just going by the book. I did just that and I start in a few days.

I didn’t stop there…

My SLAP Surgery Supplement Plan

It’s just my nature and I can’t help it. I have to push the boundaries and see what I can do to help. I consulted with Chris Kresser, Pubmed, and Tim Ferriss’s “4-hour Body.”

Here is the post-surgery supplement plan I’m following:

  • A cup of bone broth 2-3 times a day (at least 6 months)
  • 2-3 servings of collagen a day (at least 6 months)
  • Inflammatone 2 caps a day (2 months)
  • 4 tablespoons of flax seed oil (at least 6 months)
  • 4 caps FCLO/Butter oil (6 months)
  • Glucosamine and Chrondroitin (at least 6 months)
  • Eat SCD with minimal cheats and fermented foods
  • Lots of sleep and low stress
  • Faithfully do the home rehab exercises
  • If needed, I’ll add Cissus Quadrangularis

With the additions above, I will be creating a massive influx of all the nutrients needed to repair collagen, cartilage, ligaments, and bone (K2 from the butter oil). I will also be working hard to keep inflammation low and keep my body focused on my injury… and not fighting saber tooth tigers.

I’ll try to give you an update as I progress through rehab and let you know what I think helped! And I’d love to hear if you have any tips for recovery or share your surgery experiences below.

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