NJ Woman Returns to Hobbies Thanks to Shoulder Surgery
Indian dancing has always been a soul-nourishing piece of Janya Bhave’s life. So giving it up—even temporarily—was nearly as painful for the East Brunswick, New Jersey, woman as the reason: a torn rotator cuff in her right shoulder.
Injured about a decade ago when the now 62-year-old pulled a mattress across the floor, Janya’s shoulder continued to throb for years, also thwarting the avid cook’s ability to lift heavy pans and roll out dough. Several rounds of physical and massage therapy didn’t provide lasting relief, and Janya became increasingly distressed. She turned to Joshua Zimmerman, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group in Old Bridge.
“Janya had a lot of daily problems with her shoulder, but one of the biggest things bothering her was she couldn’t sleep because of the pain,” Dr. Zimmerman explains. “That’s often the line in the sand drawn by people with shoulder problems, who decide to address it after they can’t sleep through the night.”
Treating Dueling Conditions
Composed of four muscles attached to the shoulder blade, the rotator cuff helps stabilize the shoulder joint. About 30 percent of adults over 60 have a tear in their rotator cuff, though some don’t know it because it doesn’t always produce symptoms, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). But pain from a torn rotator cuff can be intense, arriving suddenly after an injury—as in Janya’s case—or building over time if the condition develops from normal wear-and-tear.
Janya’s situation was complicated by a dueling condition called adhesive capsulitis, better known as frozen shoulder. In addition to her rotator cuff tear, bands of tissue had formed in her shoulder that left it stiff and useless. Dr. Zimmerman treated both conditions with the surgery.
“Dr. Zimmerman explained everything he would do during the surgery and put me at ease,” says the grandmother of two.
During the same-day procedure performed at a surgical center in Edison, Dr. Zimmerman vaporized the tight tissue in Janya’s shoulder using a heated electrode. Next, he repaired the rotator cuff tear by anchoring the structure to the head of the humerus (or upper arm) bone with surgical screws. “I had pain afterward, of course, but not a lot,” says Janya, who was sent home wearing a sling.
Happily Raising Her Hands
Janya began physical therapy consisting of heat and ice packs and range-of-motion exercises four weeks after surgery. As Dr. Zimmerman anticipated, she needed a follow-up procedure about four months later to manipulate her frozen shoulder to maximize its ability to move in all directions.
“Even though her rotator cuff repair was successful, Janya was still stiff,” he says. “She had a tricky combination of problems, but most people like her get to a point where they can return to their normal daily activities. As we always discuss with patients, this is not an overnight success.”
Within months of both procedures, Janya was back to cooking in her kitchen and dancing in traditional Indian dress. Nearly three years later, she’s thrilled to be able to play with her active toddler grandson and spar in table tennis with her daughter. “Thanks to Dr. Zimmerman, this is all possible,” she says. “He’s an incredible doctor.”
“I felt desperate before my surgery because I suffered for a long time,” she says. “Now I can do many things I wasn’t able to before, just because I can raise my hands.”
Next Steps & Resources:
- Meet our source: Joshua Zimmerman, M.D.
- To make an appointment with Dr. Zimmerman or an orthopedic specialist near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website
- Learn about your knee & hip health with our health risk assessment
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.