Musician, John Oates’ Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair

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If you were a music lover in the 70s and 80s, then it’s no doubt you’ve popped a quarter into a jukebox at one time or another to dance and sing to some favorite tunes of that day.  Favorites such as “Maneater” and “Kiss on my List” will bring back a flood of memories for anyone who values outstanding music and appreciates the artistic blend of rock, pop and soul that was Hall and Oates—and still is even today.In the early 80’s, the top 40 of pop rock consistently saved a spot or two, week after week, for Hall and Oates. Their music provided palatable rhythms, catchy lyrics and dynamic singing from a duo that would produce some of the biggest hits of that generation.

Today, if you search for Hall and Oates in iTunes, it is mind boggling how many songs they wrote, produced and recorded.  All of these musical successes are compiled on the world’s most popular music library—hit after hit after hit.

Musician John Oates was one half of this musical sensation; but long before he started Hall and Oates with his friend, Daryl Hall, he knew he was destined to be a musician. From the moment he began talking, he was already singing. He picked up a guitar for the first time at age five and began strumming amiable beats from that point on. What he would do, or who he would become one day in life was never in question.

A lifelong dream to become a musician, John Oates was born in New York City and later moved outside of Philadelphia in the early 50’s where his love of music would continue to make a big impact on his life.  During these younger years, he would experience his first concerts, collect scores of rpm singles from some of the most memorable superstars of that time and he would spend countless hours on his AM transistor radio trying to tune in the local R&B stations and listening to DJs of that day. In the late 60s John moved to Philadelphia to attend Temple University and check out the city’s music scene. Later in 1966, he wrote and recorded his first single “I Need

Your Love” which received airplay on Philly’s R&B radio stations. Over the months that followed, John encountered influential people in the music industry who would share advice and provide opportunities that would eventually help shape his music style and his career.In 1967, John met Daryl Hall—and the rest is history. Their love for music was mutual. Their styles of urban rhythm and blues blended with modern Americana resulted in one of the most successful rock duos on record. This remarkable blend of talent would go on to make rock history by selling over 80 million units, producing 10 number one hits and making the nation’s top 40 more than 20 times. From “Live Aid” and “We are the World”, to some of the most coveted awards in the music industry, they were iconic and influential to current and future musicians. In 2005 they were inducted into the American Songwriters Hall of Fame and in May of 2008 were presented with the prestigious BMI Icon Award for their outstanding career achievement in song writing.

In the years that followed, Daryl Hall and John Oates would continue recording and touring together. For John Oates, the words “slowing down” and “retirement” have never been a part of his vocabulary.  He eventually moved to Aspen, CO with his wife and son and has remained busy with music and his growing love for animals and the outdoors.

It was in 1995 when he was thrown from a horse that the idea of rest first entered his daily routine.  During an afternoon ride, John was thrown from his horse and he hit a fence post with his shoulder.  In the years that followed, he would continue to play music, perform, tour and work out—but his shoulder injury became progressively worse and would continue to slow him down little by little causing him pain and tightness after even minimal use. A close friend of his who had been treated by Dr. Peter Millett at the Steadman Clinic recommended a visit to his Vail, CO office. After a thorough examination, John was diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear involving the supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendons, in addition to an injury to the long head biceps tendon.  Given the prolonged history of pain and limited function, Dr. Millett was absolutely certain that rotator cuff tear surgery using an arthroscopic technique would be best approach to alleviate John’s pain and disability.

At the time of John’s diagnosis, he was also in the middle of a growing solo career and just a mere months away from releasing his third solo album “Mississippi Mile” which was scheduled to hit airwaves in Nashville in 2011.  Thus, Dr. Millett recommended that John undergo minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery to repair both the torn rotator cuff tendons and the biceps injury.

“John’s goal was to be pain-free and able to perform without any side-effects from his shoulder injury and biceps tendon injury, as well as concurrent surgery.  We did an arthroscopic rotator cuff tear surgery repair whereby we re-attached the torn rotator cuff tendons by literally sewing them and then anchoring them to the bone with small piton-like devices called ‘suture anchors.’ While we were in surgery, we removed a bone spur, which may have developed from years as a muscician and guitar player. Furthermore, we also performed a biceps reattachment (also called a biceps tenodesis) where we removed the damaged portion of the long head of the biceps tendon, which runs through the shoulder joint, and re-attached the healthy portion back to the upper arm bone. Several elite athletes like Curt Schilling and Brett Favre have recently had procedures done to address their biceps tendons. Once all the tendons are healed fully, shoulder and arm strength are restored, pain is eliminated, and normal appearance of the shoulder, arm, and biceps muscle are preserved,” said Dr. Millett.

John’s arthroscopic shoulder rotator cuff tear surgery took place under the careful hands of Dr. Millett in April of 2010.  John testifies that the rehab in the days following surgery and the subsequent weeks spent regaining function were very important in his overall recovery.

In October, John told us that his shoulder was like brand new and that he felt 100% heeled.  Without any pain whatsoever, he has been able to resume all professional musical pursuits and recreational activities.  In March of 2011, John is set to play in the second annual Aspen Songwriter’s Festival alongside some of the country’s best writers and performers. In addition to an ongoing successful solo career and continued touring with his partner, Daryl Hall as Hall and Oates, John will fill up his free time driving his tractor, riding his mountain bike, hiking the backcountry, and doing some telemark skiing—activities in which there is just no place nor room for a sore and hurting shoulder.

“I’m thankful to Dr. Millett and the professional and competent staff at the Steadman Clinic. The pain in my shoulder is gone and after all of this time, I feel completely normal again physically.  Although the recovery required commitment to my rehab, the experience was well worth it! I am able to resume my love for playing music and outdoor activities in a pain-free way.  My only regret is that I didn’t take care of this injury sooner,” said John.

Dr. Millett continued to say, “Mr. Oates was very dedicated to his rehab which also allowed him to have such a successful recovery.  We are looking forward to his new musical launch and a pain-free tour for his new solo album!”

While clinical studies support the effectiveness of these procedures, individual results may vary. There are no guarantees of outcome. All surgeries involve the risk of major complications. Before you decide on surgery, discuss treatment options with your doctor. Understanding the risks of each treatment can help you make the best decision for your individual situation.  Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits. Only your doctor can determine the appropriate treatment for your situation. The clinical information and opinions, including any inaccuracies expressed in this material by patients or doctor are not necessarily those of Peter Millett, MD and should not be considered as substitute for medical advice provided by your doctor.
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