A patch made from cow tissue that helps heal traumatic shoulder injuries is now available on the NHS.
Pam Locke, 43, a university lecturer in Bristol, was one of the first UK patients, as she tells Richard Weber.
Rowing competitively and working as a tree surgeon in my 20s almost certainly caused tissue damage in my right shoulder, causing pain that worsened over the years.
It got so bad that it even triggered migraines, and, before long, I struggled with tasks that involved raising my arms above my head; I couldn’t even use a hairdryer. My gardening was increasingly confined to light tasks. As a result, in my 30s, I stopped rowing and switched to an office job.
I’ve tried pain relievers and a steroid injection to reduce swelling and have seen physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors – but to no avail. Eventually my GP referred me to consultant orthopedic surgeon Andrew Chambler in 2018.
A patch made from cow tissue that helps heal traumatic shoulder injuries is now available on the NHS. Above is a stock image used
An MRI scan showed damage to a tendon (which connects muscle to bone) in my right shoulder; It was being squeezed, causing pain and difficulty walking. I had decompression surgery in February 2018, where he slightly shaved off the tissue between the ball and socket joint of the shoulder and the bone above, to make more room for the joint and compress the tendon.
This relieved the pain for about a year, but eventually the pain came back.
After the hope that the problem was fixed, it was disastrous. I felt very low and turned to hypnotherapy to help me deal with the prospect of living with the pain for a long time. Then in June 2019, I had another scan of my shoulder which showed that I now have a partial tear in my shoulder.
Mr Chambler explained that my torn tendon was in the rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons in the shoulder that help move the joint. The tear was constantly rubbing inside the joint, causing swelling, and bruising from movement.
I could do another decompression or a session to sew back the torn tissue, but when there was no guarantee it would work, I was reluctant to endure the painful recovery.
what are its dangers?
There is a 1 percent risk of common complications associated with keyhole joint surgery, such as joint stiffness, infection, deep vein thrombosis and nerve injury.
As with any reconstructive surgery, there is always a small chance of this procedure not working, but studies show that it has a low rate of re-tear.
Professor Chris Peach, a consultant shoulder and elbow surgeon at the Orthteam Center in Manchester, says: ‘We are using Regenten and I am delighted – as are my patients – with the extraordinary results they are experiencing.
‘I am leading a global trial to ensure that initial excellent clinical results are reproducible, as well as studying the cost effectiveness of this procedure for widespread adoption within the NHS .’
Mr Chambler then said he is introducing a new treatment, where a small patch is placed over the tear in a minimally invasive procedure and heals quickly.
The patch was made from cow tissue and contains collagen, which helps stimulate the body to repair the tear and my own body tissue will grow in it to strengthen it.
I had a one hour operation under general anaesthetic in December 2020. I arrived at lunchtime and came home late for dinner – it was so early.
My hand was in a sling for two weeks and I was given some strong pain relief for seven days; After that I took ibuprofen or paracetamol for the injury.
As it got better, I did stretching exercises and lifted light weights to build strength.
Now my shoulder is very strong; I can lift more weight in the garden, hustle longer in the kitchen and I go swimming several times a week.
Not long ago, I was worried that I would have to live with pain and weakness for the rest of my life. Now, as my shoulder is improving, I feel positive about the future again.
Andrew Chambler is a Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon at Sulis Hospital Bath and BMI Bath Clinic.
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons that allow us to move our shoulder joint. These tendons usually suffer from wear and tear with age or damage from injury. About 2 percent of children in their 40s are affected by it and this figure increases with age. About 10,000 repair works are carried out every year.
Most rotator cuff tears do not cause symptoms, but if they reach a certain size or if it affects a significant portion of the tendon, significant pain and loss of function can occur. This is because the muscle pulls on the torn tendon, causing pain and subsequent weakness.
The torn end can also capture surrounding structures. As a result, the joint can become unbalanced, causing the other muscles around the tendon to work harder (which increases swelling and pain).
Normal day-to-day activities, such as dressing and cooking, can all be affected because patients can no longer lift their hands properly without pain. Tension can be placed on the shoulder blades, which can also cause headaches in some people.
A full-thickness tear occurs when the tendon completely tears away from the bone. Partial thickening is where some of the tendon ruptures, leaving some of the attachment which is then under more tension than the flexion of the muscle. If left untreated, partial tears can progress to full thickness tears.
Treatment begins with physiotherapy, pain relievers or steroid injections to reduce inflammation but these can weaken the tendon and do not always work.
We can offer surgery to repair the tear, stitching it to the bone with stitches. It has a long recovery time and major repairs are likely to burst again.
Sometimes if the tear is too large it cannot be repaired, and patients must live with the pain or consider other major surgery such as shoulder replacement.
The new Regentine patch offers a minimally invasive option,…