Shoulder Surgery


Well-Known Member
I am 8 weeks post op from left labrum SLAP surgery. The surgery went smoothly, no post op issues and I haven't taken any medication (prescription and non) since week 3. Rehab has gone well and I'm back to almost full range of motion. I have had no past medical issues of any kind and no issues previously obtaining 1st class medicals. My question is, what, if any questioning/harassment/paperwork can I expect from the FAA? I'm planning to return to work as an FO at a regional airline on December 1st. I want to apply for my 1st class medical this coming week. Do you think there is sufficient time to get everything squared away in time? Any suggestions, advice or information is greatly appreciated! Also, I apologize if there is already a thread buried deep in the Forum. If so, can someone provide a link and I'll check it out. Thanks!
At your next medical, just take a copy of the medical records and a statement from the surgeon that you are healed with full range of motion. You can go back to work when you have sufficient range of motion and strength to easily fulfill the functions (emergent and non-t emergent) required to operate the aircraft.
I have a type I SLAP tear in my right labrum. I saw Dr. George White in Orlando (he also happens to be a pilot) and he said if I opted for surgery that I'd be back in the cockpit in two weeks. I decided to hold off on the surgery for now; I hope your recovery is going well!
Thanks man, the recovery is going really well.

Although let me chime in on the surgery.I absolutely am not even close to being a doctor (except for what I watch on House) so take what I have to say with that in mind but 2 weeks seems basically impossible.

Now, we might have totally different shoulders issues so again keep all this in mind, but my experience with the surgery was this…

The operation went perfect, however I still had to wear a sling for about 4 weeks. For the first week, the strength in the shoulder is non existent and its hard to even hold your elbow up at a 90 degree angle. 2 weeks after surgery the strength is improved (enough to hold your arm at your side) but you're still in pain…and pretty decent amount of pain. The doctor is going prescribe you drugs, serious drugs, the kind that some addicts would love to get a hold of (Just to give you an idea of the level of discomfort you'll be in). And be ready to not sleep for the first 2 weeks or so…Sleeping in a sling is ridiculously annoying so have the whole series of Breaking bad or Mad Men ready to go cause you will be up all night.

Then you start physical therapy about 2 weeks after surgery…I am a pretty fit and relatively strong mid-20's guy….but at the beginning of therapy, lifting a 1 pound weight up to shoulder height is hard…really hard…so you have some idea of your level of strength at this point. And when your therapist stretches your shoulder, you'll wish you hadn't had the surgery cause dislocating it feels better than the stretches they put you thru.

It took me about 6-8 weeks before I felt comfortable/flexible/strong enough to get back to work (things like reaching the overhead panel, evacuating the aircraft in an emergency, etc..). There's no way I could have done any of those at 2 weeks post op.

Again, we could have been in totally different scenario's and your doctor could be right on (i'm not gonna doubt the doc's cause they know whats up) but in my experience, there is no way I could have been back in the cockpit in 2 weeks.

Having said all this…GO.GET.THE.SURGERY! ha, I waited way too long and dislocated my should many times between the first dislocation and the actual surgery so my advice from the whole thing is go take care of it now. Trust me, its not gonna go away on its own and it really starts to effect your life when you can dislocate it yawning, walking, even sleeping (yes, I did it in each of those ways and more).

Best of luck man and let me know if you have any questions. I'm happy to answer anything or share my experience.
Glad to hear you are making progress. That said we clearly have very different shoulder issues. Do you know what type of SLAP tear you had? Mine is a type I tear, along with a partial thickness rotator cuff tear and a frayed bicep tendon. I still have very good stability and my injury was not caused by a dislocation, it was caused by a throwing a baseball.

I too am no doctor but the literature on post operative treatment and recovery varies greatly between a type I, II, III, and IV tear. From what it sounds like you had a far more serious tear than I currently do and I have none of the dislocation issues that you describe (that sounds super painful).

Either way, glad your recovery is going well!
Ya, definitely some different shoulder issues for sure. I honestly don't remember the degree of the tear, but my guess it was type IV. Anyways, good luck and I hope you get yours fixed soon. My advice still stands to get it fixed sooner rather than later, like I said, I won't fix itself.
I don't know what grade mine was but it pretty much followed your recovery. Far more painful and took far longer to get full (almost) range of motion again. That being said, I'm so glad I went through with it! If you want more details then send me a PM.