Do you have shoulder pain that affects sports and exercise? Have you thought about seeing an orthopaedic surgeon for it but have put it off because you were afraid of being told you need surgery? Meet Kit Menis.

Kit runs a marketing company and designs tennis apparel (see feature photo). She is also a high-level recreational tennis player, competing in leagues and tournaments throughout the area. In addition, she participates in regular exercise, including hip-hop aerobics.

Like many patients tell me when I see them for the first time, Kit started having shoulder pain while playing tennis. She dealt with it for months, thinking it would get better on its own. Eventually her tennis success started to decline due to her shoulder trouble, and she decided to have me evaluate it.

“I first thought my pain was muscle related. I was having sharp pains down my arm, not necessarily shoulder pain. Finally the pain was too great and I couldn’t lift a tennis racquet. It was at this point I knew I needed to consult a doctor,” Menis recalls.

Kit’s evaluation eventually led to an MR arthrogram of her shoulder. I diagnosed her with a full-thickness rotator cuff tear, which is a little unusual in someone as young as she is but does occur in overhead athletes. She ultimately decided to have surgery – an arthroscopic rotator cuff repair. She then underwent physical therapy with Laura Mueller of MUSC Physical Therapy to restore range of motion and strength of her shoulder. After completing a program of overhead functional training to prepare her for tennis, she returned to the courts.

“Physical therapy became a big part of my life after surgery. I did strength and range of motion exercises everyday. It was painful at times, but I knew it would eventually help me reach my goal of playing competitive tennis again.”