Julia returns to the slopes following keyhole surgery

Julia is a ski fanatic, so much so that her and her husband run a ski instruction and guiding company working in France and the UK. During the season, she skis most days and particularly enjoys off piste and cross country skiing. For the remainder of the year Julia stays active by partaking in HIIT spin sessions, weight training and running or hiking in the outdoors.

Her injury occurred in Courchevel towards the end of the season in 2017, the snow was hard packed and she was the first down the mountain amongst her friends. Whilst performing some speedy turns, Julia suddenly hit a large patch of ice, lost all grip on her skis and fell sideways into the hill, landing with her arm hyper extended. All of her weight went through the shoulder and as she slid downhill her arm was pulled around in this position as she could not manage to release her ski poles. By lunchtime the pain had increased and she was suspicious that she had dislocated her shoulder in the fall however, due to her previous experience with ski injuries, Julia decided not to see a doctor that day. 


She seeked advice from her Physiotherapists

She continued to take painkillers and anti-inflammatories, and took a break from skiing for the next few days to see if her shoulder would return to normal. To her dismay, 6 days later she was experiencing swelling, bruising, muscle spasms and lifting her arm was very difficult to do without pain. Julia decided it was time to visit the Physio in the ski resort.

During her appointment, she was given some exercises which were very painful for her to perform. The Physio was certain that she had injured the rotator cuff, and they came to the conclusion that Julia would need to seek further treatment when she returned to the UK the following week. 

At the end of April she visited her regular Physio at home, who taped up her shoulder and recommended that she should organise an MRI scan and an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist. As she had lost some strength since the injury, he also suggested some simple strengthening exercises that she could work on in the interim.

Julia searched for a shoulder specialist

In late May Julia had an MRI scan and saw a shoulder specialist, however she was not convinced with the professional’s advice and wanted to find a second opinion. After speaking with some friends who had recently undertaken shoulder surgery, she was highly recommended Mr Steven Corbett, Shoulder Surgeon at Fortius Clinic.

During her consultation with Steve, he listened to her history, examined the shoulder and reviewed her scans. He immediately recognised that she had torn a structure in the shoulder which helps to provide stability to the joint. He advised that the injury should be repaired with a keyhole operation. 

Mr Corbett commented on his findings, “unfortunately Julia sustained an injury to her glenoid labrum in her shoulder. This is similar to a 'ring' or 'tyre' which runs around the socket of the main shoulder joint. If the shoulder dislocates or tries to dislocate, the labrum can be torn away from the socket. Consequently the shoulder becomes unstable and more prone to further injury. In some circumstances, the labrum needs to be repaired, especially when the patient is very active. As a ski instructor, Julia places a lot of stress through her shoulders and the likelihood of another dislocation was very high, hence my advice to undertake a keyhole surgery.”

The operation

Julia knew that she needed the operation quickly, as her day to day activities were becoming difficult and she wanted to get back to the slopes as soon as she could. After considering the options, she decided to have the operation privately at the Fortius Surgical Centre and was booked in for a shoulder arthroscopy the following month.

Julia spoke to us about how the operation went, “the Fortius Surgical Centre was brilliant, the staff were very attentive and the facilities were exceptional – I knew I was in great hands from the second I arrived. When I woke up Steve assured me everything had gone well, and talked me through the upcoming recovery programme. He installed a lot of confidence in me, and I knew throughout my treatment that I was dealing with an expert in the field. I want to say a big thank you to him”.

5 months of rehabilitation

The recovery process was predicted to take 5 months until Julia would fully recover and return to her passion for skiing. As a determined individual, she was walking up to 4 miles by day 4 and regularly cycled on her exercise bike at home in the following weeks to stay active. She embarked on her rehab programme that involved daily exercises with some rest days. Julia believed that her recovery would not have been as successful without this intensive programme.

In February 2018 Julia was able to ski again, and had full confidence in her return. She found her shoulder was slightly limited, but due to her exercise programme, she felt very strong. Mr Corbett was very happy with her recovery, “I was delighted when she was able to resume her skiing later in the season. There is no guarantee that she will not injure her shoulder again, especially given her occupation, however her shoulder now appears to have excellent stability and the risks of a further dislocation are significantly reduced.”

Julia shares her advice to other patients

Julia wanted to share her advice with individuals in a similar position. “My advice would be to have the operation, I found the pain very hard to manage and I couldn’t perform simple tasks such as lifting the shopping without the shoulder feeling quite unstable. It was hampering my fitness and this was something I found difficult to deal with too. Make sure to do your research and find a good shoulder surgeon, I would recommend Steve to anyone.”


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