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My dad is 83. He had what the surgeon said was a "huge" tear. The doctor warned prior to surgery that the chance of it healing completely was 50%. Dad fell again about 3 months after surgery and most likely injured his shoulder again. I say "most likely" because we haven't been able to get dad another MRI. He has dementia on top of all this and we can't get him to be still for the MRI. His pain plays a part in this as well. We had an appt for a "stand up" MRI, but dad ended up in the hospital with AFIB. So he has had several issues all the same year. Just 2 years ago, he was walking 3 miles a day and was in good health (only moderate dementia). At this point, the orthopedic surgeon has washed his hands of us. Dad has nerve damage in his bad arm and has lost all use of his left hand, which his neurologist says is irreparable. At this point, I just want to make my dad more comfortable. Short of strong pain meds, does anyone have suggestions on what would be the best thing to do to help him?

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Another thought is music therapy.
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I'm merely surmising as I haven't been through this or known anyone who has, although I do have an unhealed rotator cuff injury.

I can tell you that the pain comes and goes, the former when there's a change in the weather such as an approaching storm, as well as when I'm upset and anxious. It goes when I'm relaxed. The smell of chocolate chip cookies, roses and other fragrant flowers help banish the pain to the hinterlands.

I'm wondering about water therapy, just moving around in a pool (supervised of course) as well as acupuncture. Mindfulness meditation might be too challenging. Aromatherapy is another possibility. Chocolate chip cookies and bread in the oven are good for short term aromatherapy.

I'm not inclined toward using medicine as a first resort, but in your father's situation perhaps it would help - perhaps even something like a lidocaine patch, or a TENS unit. TENS units can be purchased on the open market now, or you might be able to get a script, even from the grouchy ortho doctor.

It's unfortunate that the ortho surgeon isn't more consoling; you might check your area to see if there are any geriatric clinics or practices. In SE Michigan, there's actually a clinic, but it's in a not so great area of Detroit. However, another suburban hospital is working on creating a geri clinic.

I'm hopeful that when it is created, it will have not only geriatric doctors but referrals to specialty doctors with varied practice areas.

I experienced this once when a physiatrist was unwilling to address some leg pain my father had, commenting somewhat condescendingly that he's old, he's going to have pain, and that's life. That guy and his practice will never get another penny from my family.
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Dear Gunner,

I'm so sorry to hear about the pain your dad is in. Given his pain level, I would try at least using pain meds to start. Is there a chance you can seek out another medical opinion? Have you considered talking with a physical therapist? Alternative treatment like acupuncture?
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Are you opposed to strong pain meds?

Have you tried prescription pain patches?
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