After almost a year-long absence, Hideo Itami returned to NXT after suffering a torn rotator cuff and complications during his rehabilitation.
Rotator cuff injuries are quite common, and usually require a recovery period of six months. Itami’s recovery did not go as planned. During his recovery, scar tissue in Itami’s shoulder caused him to not have full range of motion in the joint, and the scar tissue needed to be removed in a second shoulder surgery.
Understanding The Shoulder Joint
The shoulder has the most mobility out of all the joints in the human body. The joint is designed to have this huge range of motion due to just how much people need use of their arms. Because it needs to be so mobile, stability in the joint is sacrificed. The rotator cuff is made of tendons and muscles, and the main pieces of connective tissue are designed to keep the shoulder joint as stable as possible. Hideo Itami tore his rotator cuff which immediately led to instability. Due to the design of the joint, a torn rotator cuff does not always require surgery.
Factors that surgeons consider are the severity of the tear, how the range of motion is impacted,the amount of pain the patient is experiencing, and occupation. Most athletes who tear their rotor cuff need surgery in order to perform at their peak level.
Rotator Cuff Surgery
Rotator cuff surgery can either be done as a full open capsule repair, an arthroscopic repair, or a mini-open repair. Each one of these options has their own risks and benefits. In order to repair a torn rotator cuff, the tear is either sutured closed or a donor tendon is grafted into the shoulder to replace the injury. Donor tendons come from either a cadaver or from another part of the patient’s body.
- In an open repair, the surgeon makes a large incision in order to detach the deltoid muscle in order to access the tear. This type of incision allows the surgeon full access to the shoulder joint and makes it easier to repair rotator cuffs that are severely injured.
- An arthroscopic surgery is the least invasive options of the three. The surgeon makes two tiny incisions in the shoulder. A micro camera goes inside one of the incisions while small tools go in the other. The camera allows the surgeon to see the tear and help guide the tools to do the repair.
- A mini-open repair is a combination of the other two options. This procedure requires an incision of only a few centimeters and allows the deltoid muscle to not be touched. The surgeon uses the camera used for arthroscopy in order to inspect the interior of the shoulder to ensure no other damage is present. The tools are inserted through the mini-incision and the repair is completed.
Recovery From Surgery
Right after the shoulder is repaired, the patient is put into a sling that completely immobilizes the shoulder and arm. This immobilization is vital to ensure that the surgical repairs are allowed to heal fully before any movement is done. On average, immobilization can last from four to six weeks.
Once the surgeon feels movement can start, physical therapy begins. The physical therapy process is not rushed. The patient will not be allowed to do any movement of the shoulder on their own for the first few weeks. These first few weeks see the physical therapist guide the arm through multiple range of motion exercises. This is done to ensure surgical stability and to loosen up an arm that has not moved in almost two months.
After another four or six weeks has gone by, the patient can begin to do range of motion exercises on their own. This is all done under the supervision of the physical therapist. After full range of motion is deemed to be back, the patient can then begin to use weights to get their shoulder and arm back to full strength.
Hideo Itami should have been back in action in four to six months. Itami was one of the small percentage of people who have complications following a rotator cuff tear. These complications forced him to essentially go back to step one of the repair process.
It will be interesting to see how the WWE and NXT use Itami in order to ensure that he does not reinjure his shoulder. Itami will no doubt be needed during the upcoming brand split.
[Image Via WWE.Com]