Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release Treats Charles’ Left Shoulder Arthritis and Rotator Cuff Tear

Degenerative Shoulder with Massive Rotator Cuff Tear, Elbow Lateral Epicondylitis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Cubital Tunnel Syndrome & Finger Trigger Digit / Advanced Reverse Head Shoulder Joint Prosthesis, Elbow Ulnar Nerve Release & Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release & Trigger Digit ReleaseCharles Zittrower is a man of action. He stays busy, and when he experienced difficulty with his bilateral upper extremities, he did not like the loss of control that the pain and weakness with consequent inactivity caused. “I always have a project going, and in my work as a plumber, use of my hands and arms is absolutely critical.” Mr. Zittrower had been experiencing shoulder problems for some time, but it became much worse when he fell on his outstretched arm after losing his balance. He was referred to Bruce Steinberg, M.D., a specialist in the upper extremity. Through examination and testing, Mr. Zittrower was diagnosed with a degenerative left shoulder with rotator cuff fraying, left elbow lateral epicondylitis and right ring finger trigger digit. He received injections in both his shoulder and elbow, which helped to alleviate his symptoms.

A few years later, Mr. Zittrower returned to Dr. Steinberg with weakness, numbness and tingling in his left hand, as well as some returning discomfort in his elbow and shoulder regions. Dr. Steinberg performed a left-sided endoscopic carpal tunnel release and a left elbow ulnar nerve release. Following the surgery, Mr. Zittrower regained strength in his left hand. Several months later, Mr. Zittrower developed similar symptoms in his right hand and Dr. Steinberg performed a right-sided endoscopic carpal tunnel release and right elbow ulnar nerve release. Once again, Mr. Zittrower’s symptoms resolved. However, Mr. Zittrower’s left shoulder was causing much greater difficulty; he was unable to lift his left arm any higher than his shoulder, and was experiencing increasing pain. “The thing is that the shoulder pain was really impacting so many other areas of my life. Because I couldn’t get a good night’s sleep, I was almost like a zombie during the day. It was really difficult to function.” Mr. Zittrower also experienced problems with his blood pressure, attributing it to stress from his shoulder pain and resultant inability to sleep well.

Mr. Zittrower appreciates that Dr. Steinberg took a conservative approach to dealing with his various challenges. “My shoulder had been a problem for some time and I would have injections that would hold me for a while. But then it got to the point that the injections were no longer helping.” Dr. Steinberg diagnosed Mr. Zittrower with left shoulder arthritis glenohumeral joint in the setting of a massive retracted rotator cuff tear. After careful consideration, Mr. Zittrower elected to have Dr. Steinberg perform a left shoulder reverse head total joint replacement.

Mr. Zittrower had complete confidence in Dr. Steinberg’s ability to fix his shoulder. “I really appreciated that he spent a lot of time explaining the procedure to me. He told me this was a big operation, and the rehab was going to take a lot of time. It was good that he was honest with me so that I knew what to expect. After the surgery, sometimes I would get a little impatient that I wasn’t getting better quicker, but my JOI therapist was my partner through the whole process. He told me to trust him and to do what he said. Before long, I began to see improvement. Dr. Steinberg did his part, and it was up to me to put everything I could into my rehab. I felt like he, the therapist and I were a team.” 

Mr. Zittrower is quick to add that his wife of 52 years is also highly complimentary of Dr. Steinberg and grateful that he was able to heal her husband. Mr. Zittrower says, “Our prayer is that Dr. Steinberg and his team can do this well with all his patients. I am lucky that I had the support of a great doctor, rehab therapist and family to help me get through this process. My shoulder is now 100%. I’m back to my former level of activity. I truly believe Dr. Steinberg took 20 years off my shoulder and has given me my life back!”

– Charles Zittrower