Shoulder “Stronger Than Ever” after Surgery

Rotator Cuff Repair Gets Fireman Back on Full Duty

Fireman, Eric Dudziak, got a partial tear in his rotator cuff on the job two years ago. Workers Comp put him through physical therapy.  

He says, “I ended up at about 80%.”

Eric serves as the Fire Marshall and 80% got him back on call for occasional shift work. Then, in August of 2016, he was hauling some firewood while camping. He tripped and tore two muscles in his shoulder. “I couldn’t move my arm,” he said, “This time, I ended up in the ER.”

The ER doctor referred Eric to Dr. Robert Zanotti who saw Eric within a few days and scheduled a rotator cuff surgical repair 4 weeks later. The ER wasn’t the first time Eric had heard of Dr. Zanotti. Another fireman at work had his shoulder fixed by Dr. Zanotti at CFO as well.

“A guy I worked with recommended Dr. Zanotti to me back when I tore my cuff. He had the surgery and got back to 100%.”

The outpatient surgery went well, but Eric is allergic to opioids, so he struggled with pain after the operation. “The surgery went great, and I felt great for 18 hours after because of the nerve block, but when that wore off, I was in trouble.”

Luckily, a call into the office got Eric hooked up with a medication that helped ease him through that tough transition without opioids. After those first 3 days, Eric did well. And now, Eric reports that he is entirely pain free. “I have no pain now, and I can do everything.”

Eric credits the surgery, of course, but also the physical therapy for his returned shoulder strength. When he experienced the tear and did PT, he was able to restore much of his shoulder strength and range of motion. However, surgery and PT helped Eric completely recover.

“Before the surgery, when I had the tear and did PT, I got it to about 80%, but this time I’m 100%. I believe it’s because I did what I was told, and I didn’t overdo it. I gotta say, my shoulder is stronger than it’s ever been, and I’m about an inch away from complete range of motion.”

Although he felt better sooner, Eric gave his shoulder the recommended 6 months for full healing. “Now I’m back on full duty as of 2017. I’m still the Fire Marshall, which is light duty, but I can be on call, train, and do shift work with no problems.”

Just like his colleague who first recommended Dr. Zanotti, now Eric would also recommend him along with many of the other people involved in his recovery process.

“The Physician Assistant, Bob, was great, the hospital was great, and PT was great. Overall, my experience has been positive. I am very pleased and would refer anyone, in a second, to Dr. Robert Zanotti.”

Thanks for sharing, Eric. We’re pleased it’s going well and that you’re able to continue your important work for the community.

If you’re having rotator cuff issues, give Dr. Robert Zanotti’s office a call over at Center For Orthopedics:440-329-2800. Learn more about Dr. Robert Zanotti and shoulder repair, including the groundbreaking reverse total shoulder replacement at our main website:


Add comment Posted in  Surgeries ,Testimonials March 10, 2017

Lower Back Pain Basics


Lower back pain episodes, that resolve within 2 weeks, are typically caused by muscle strain or spasm. Even though this doesn’t sound serious, the pain can be severe. Strains, muscle spasms and other issues in the lumbar portion of the back are common because this area bears much of the body’s weight during walking, lifting, and other activities.

Problems arise when any part of the complex, interconnected network of muscles, nerves, discs and tendons become inflamed or injured. Sources of low back pain include strained or spasming muscles; irritated nerves; damaged bones, ligaments or joints; or issues involving disc degeneration.

Emergency Treatment

If you experience these symptoms, in conjunction with lower back pain, you should seek immediate treatment.

  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bowel or bladder incontinence
  • Severe pain in legs or inability to bear weight on leg(s)

At Home Treatment

If pain is inconvenient, but not debilitating, most people start pain management and treatment at home. Most muscle inflammation and strain issues will resolve within 2 weeks of at home care. If you try these treatments and they fail to improve pain and mobility after 2 weeks, it may be time to consult a doctor.   

  • One or two days of rest for your back to minimize stress on the area.  
  • Application of ice and heat. Generally speaking, ice reduces inflammation and heat increases blood flow and relaxes muscles. Ice is typically recommended within the first 48 hours with heat used thereafter.
  • Over the counter pain relief medication ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin or acetaminophen. Please consult your doctor about which is best and to confirm that they are safe for you to take.
  • Adjust sitting and posture to take stress off the lower back.
  • After brief period of rest, resume light exercise if possible such as walking short distances, gentle stretching and yoga or water activity.

Doctor Treatment

If lower back pain does not start to subside within one to two weeks, and continues to interfere with mobility and daily activities, consider seeking medical attention. Physicians can identify the source of pain and determine the best course of treatment.  Common treatments include, massage or physical therapy, prescription medications, steroid injections, and other pain management techniques. Surgical treatment is rare, but may be indicated for issues involving bone and disc degeneration.

If you have been suffering from chronic lower back pain for some time, consider a consultation with Dr. Berkowitz and his team at Center for Orthopedics. Call 440-329-2800.

Add comment Posted in  Back and Spine February 15, 2017

Caring for Senior Athletes

Senior athletes have spent their whole lives pushing themselves out of their comfort zones.  Unfortunately, aging bodies don’t respond the same to “toughing it out.” There are declines in muscle mass, bone mass and weakening of ligaments, tendons and cartilage to consider. Yet senior athletes are also minimizing some of this weakening by staying active, so it’s not a black and white issue. Senior athletes should not be benched, (or couched), but they also can’t ignore new limitations.

There are two important distinctions to consider when you are an orthopedic patient and also a senior athlete.

Approach to Limitations

National Institutes of Health says, “Most injuries in older athletes are chronic and overuse injuries that result in diminished flexibility and endurance. In addition, many aging athletes have medical and musculoskeletal problems that mandate tailoring athletic activity to the patient’s general health and functional requirements.”

Common overuse injuries, often aggravated by lumbar disc disease and osteoarthritis, include but are not limited to muscle strains, tendinopathy, meniscal tears and fractures. It’s also important for senior athletes to consider changes in heart, lung and blood flow capacity, which can affect reaction time (which helps prevent injury), muscle regeneration, and also general workout recovery.

Aging should not stop a senior athlete from doing what they love, but there is a difference between young and young at heart. It’s good to remember that the zone between discomfort and injury gets smaller as we age.  

Approach to Injuries

In sports medicine, it is common to treat athlete’s injuries not just with rest but also with corresponding strength training to improve future mobility, flexibility and strength. Sedentary seniors with injuries are often told to rest and avoid using the injured area. Seniors athletes, however, should not always be given total downtime recommendations just because they are seniors.

While total downtime may be the right course of action, it’s important for senior athletes to let their physicians know about active (or pre-injury active) lifestyles so that this can be taken into consideration during rest and rehab. They may need total rest, but they may also benefit from a physician with sports medicine experience who can recommend activity modification to help heal and restore functionality to injury areas.

Approach to surgical treatment may also be different for senior athletes. It’s important to let your orthopedic physician know what types of activities you want to continue to engage in after surgery. Some may be possible while others may have to be given up.

While some active seniors may be better candidates for certain surgeries, others may not. Senior athletes have different rates of aging and decline and different corresponding health issues and assets — BMI, strength, coordination, etc.  So, a squash partner’s shoulder surgery and recovery may look nothing like your own.   

If you are a senior athlete experiencing chronic pain or an injury, consider the sports medicine specialists and physicians at The Center for Orthopedics. Give us a call at 440.329.2800.


Add comment Posted in  Back and Spine ,Conditions ,Sports Medicine January 26, 2017

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