I know this is not a medical board, but since I know you to be a sensible, caring bunch, I thought I could solicit your opinions to help me make a decision.
I injured my left shoulder about 15 years ago in sports. Recently as I got more physically active, it's been bothering me more. So I sought medical help. I've been diagnosed with posterior instability in my left (non-dominant) shoulder caused by a labral tear. (The shoulder is a little prone to pop out the back, and I emphasize "a little," not "prone.") I had an MRI, went to three orthopedic surgeons, and two of them came up with the same diagnosis and treatment plan. Now I'm trying to figure out whether to operate.
My left shoulder doesn't bother me most of the time. I have a desk job rather than a physical job. I generally have no pain. What I'm trying to say is that I'm a mild case, and I can do basically all the daily activities of sedentary people.
I am moderately active -- weight lift, yoga, sports. Though I have been able to do only a limited range of that stuff, because my left shoulder has a limited ranged of motion if you put any stress on it -- carrying weight, exerting force. Anything above shoulder height is tricky, carrying a risk of re-irritating the shoulder. When that happens, I'll have to really limit the range of motion for perhaps a week or two. A doctor recommends against pushing forward or pushing upward with the left arm with any power -- for the rest of my life if I don't operate. I've basically stopped yoga, I can't do bench press or the upward press, and generally I have to be careful and avoid moving my arm above the shoulder height.
If I were a professional athlete, of course I'd operate. But I'm not sure what I should do.
Insurance will cover all the medical & rehab costs. It will be expensive during the first 4-6 weeks when my left arm will be completely useless in in a brace. I may have to hire someone to help take care of domestic chores, and I won't be able to cook.
I have a shoulder specialist who has a very good reputation. The success rate for this procedure is over 90%. I'm trying to figure out whether the pain and inconvenience is worth the gain I could see from the surgery. I am also worried that the surgery might make things worse or cause complications. I'd hate to go from "no problem with daily activities, some problems with exercise" to "problem with daily activities."
I'm also worried about being in screaming pain, unable to care for myself. (I live alone, and most of my friends are far away.) When looking at internet accounts of labral repairs, some report the worse pain in their lives, others don't seem bothered by it. I know we all have different injuries, surgeries, bodies. But I'm not sure what to expect. I am suspecting doctors may underplay the pain. One doctor told me I'd be fine after a few days of discomfort. Another said I might need a lot of help in the first 7-10 days post-op.
Incidentally, I have tried physical therapy multiple number of times. but it doesn't fix the problem. It tightens my shoulder so it's harder for the joint to slip, but even with consistent exercise, I'll fairly quickly re-irritate the shoulder & I'm back to Square 1.
So would you operate if you were me? How would you go about making the decision?