From Injury to Recovery with the Door Orthopedic Center: Jeffrey Albert’s Story

Every day, with little to no thought, we ask our arms to carry a substantial burden and perform a multitude of tasks. We use them to perform mundane, repetitive tasks, from folding laundry to taking out the garbage, and expect high-level performance from them when we play sports like volleyball and basketball. The constant use that daily life requires of our arms can result in numerous injuries, and perhaps the most common is the shoulder injury. 

It is estimated that in the United States, the annual incidence of shoulder pain addressed by Primary Care Physicians is 14.7 patients for every 1000—that translates to approximately 4,850,000 patients with some form of shoulder issue per year. Indeed, almost 10% of all high school athlete injuries are to the shoulder as are 10% of all work-related injuries.

Our Door Orthopedic Center works with patients from diagnosis to complete recovery, helping all our patients achieve their highest possible quality of life. At Door County Medical Center, we are proud to be Northeast Wisconsin's choice for every orthopedic need. The following is Jeffrey Albert's story, tracing his journey with the Door Orthopedic Center from initial shoulder discomfort and injury, through to his recovery.

Door Orthopedic Center Patient JeffreyJeffrey grew up in Door County playing competitive sports. "I'm a big sports guy," he says, "Growing up, I loved playing any sport—football, basketball—you name it." And, Jeffrey's true passion was baseball; "I've loved playing baseball since I was around 5 years old. Pitching and shortstop were my two main spots. I just love everything about it."

In 2018, Jeffrey started to feel some discomfort in his shoulder, a discomfort that eventually progressed to pain. "I'm a competitor, so I tried to push through it. I wanted to be there for my teammates and give it all I had. At the time, I didn't really worry about the consequences."

But, as the discomfort and pain grew with each successive year, Jeffrey found that his performance, both on and off the field, was suffering. "My ability to play declined significantly," he recalls, adding, "Even doing common, everyday things was a struggle. By the time I was playing on the club team at UW Madison, I'd say I was at about 40% of normal. But again, I felt I just had to keep powering through."

"At a certain point," Jeffrey remarks, "you just have to admit to yourself that you can't keep going anymore—that you need to look for help somewhere else." So Jeffrey turned to Dr. Dan Tomaszewski and the Door Orthopedic Center at Door County Medical Center.

Diagnosing the problem

"I've known Jeffrey for a long time," Dr. Tomaszewski says. "His family is a big part of my family—he was my kids' babysitter for about 5 or 6 years."

"So, we were at a sporting event," he continues, "and I saw him trying to throw a football to my son and he was really struggling with it. Eventually, he came to see me with shoulder pain, wondering what was going on."

Door Orthopedic Center Patient with DoctorIt turns out that Jeffrey had a torn labrum. "The labrum is a circular piece of cartilage that surrounds the socket portion of the ball and socket joint. It's kind of like a gasket that helps hold the ball in the socket," Dr. Tomaszewski says, adding, "A lot of times when people are athletes—baseball players, and specifically pitchers—they overuse their arms. That motion of bringing your arm back puts a lot of strain on the top of the shoulder, particularly at the labrum, and you can get tears just from overuse. And even a small tear in the labrum," Dr. Tomaszewski remarks, "has big consequences for folks who are vigorous athletes. If you are a competitive athlete, particularly one who uses their dominant throwing arm, a labral tear—as Jeffrey found out—is really debilitating."

The decision to get surgery

Initially, Jeffrey and Dr. Tomaszewski attempted physical therapy instead of surgery for two reasons: because historically, once a pitcher has a torn labrum, it is very difficult for them to return to baseball; and because surgery is a much more involved process. "We tried for quite a while to avoid surgery," Dr. Tomaszewski recalls, adding, "For several months, we tried physical therapy and other treatments because there is a significant downtime—recovery and rehab—associated with surgery, and we wanted to be certain that surgery was the right answer for him."

Unfortunately, the physical therapy didn't seem to work. In fact, Jeffrey's shoulder was getting worse. And, at that point, surgery became the only option. "I just wanted to be able to use my shoulder normally," Jeffrey recalls, "for everyday things, like picking stuff up. And, I'm only 22 years old right now. At some point down the road, I'd like to be able to play catch with my kids. So, looking into the future," he continues, "we decided to go with surgery—it was the right call."

Surgery, rehab, and the road to recovery

In order to repair Jeffrey's shoulder, Dr. Tomaszewski and the orthopedic team performed a minimally invasive, arthroscopic labral repair.

With arthroscopic surgery, the orthopedic surgeon makes several small incisions and inserts instruments—roughly the size of a ballpoint pen and that house a small camera and lighting system—into the incision. The surgeon is then able to see inside the joint and repair the injury without making a larger incision that requires the longer recovery time of open surgery.

With Jeffrey's labral repair, Dr. Tomaszewski put stitches in the labrum to repair it, and around the labrum to hold it back down to the socket. "When the labrum is separated from the socket," he remarks, "it's no longer doing its job—it's no longer acting to help hold the ball in the socket. So, putting the sutures in there can hold it to the bone so it can heal in a good position."

Door Orthopedic Center Patient Rehabbing ArmFollowing his surgery, Jeffrey began his rehabilitation program, of which there were three stages. Stage 1 lasted for 6 weeks while Jeffrey's arm was in a sling. During that time, physical therapists at the Door Orthopedic Center would stretch his arm for 30 minutes to an hour, thereby keeping the joint and surrounding muscles mobile. During stage 2, the sling came off and Jeffrey started to use the arm again—moving it and doing everyday activities. In the final stage of his recovery, Jeffrey began to work directly with physical therapists on building back atrophied muscle and regaining a full range of motion.

"Whenever I went to see physical therapists," Jeffrey remembers, "they were very encouraging and very optimistic. They'd say things like, 'Hey you can do this—power through.' Their encouragement was incredibly helpful," he adds, "because, some days you think, 'Do I really want to stretch my shoulder again or do this exercise 10 more times,' when you feel that, in the moment, it's not really doing anything—it just hurts." He continues, "Going in and seeing the physical therapy team at the Door Orthopedic Center, it was huge with regard to the whole overall mindset of improving myself and getting my shoulder back to 100%."

Door Orthopedic Center Patient Jeffrey and Dr. Daniel TomaszewskiOf the entire surgery, rehab and recovery process, Jeffrey remarks, "I have no complaints whatsoever. The team at the Door Orthopedic Center were all awesome—from the anesthesiologist, to the nurse that helped me in recovery, to Dr. Tomaszewski doing the surgery, to all of the physical therapists that helped me progress through to recovery. Every person I worked with had a smile on their face every day—from the bottom up; they are all good people that you want to work with."

Advice for other athletes

"From my junior year of high school to my sophomore year of college, the biggest mistake that I made was to just deal with the pain—to just pick it up every day and try to play through it," Jeffrey says. "Once you feel any pain," he adds, "if it's in your leg, your shoulder, concussions, or anything, don't push through it—go ask for help. If I had said something right away, I probably could have avoided surgery."

Dr. Tomaszewski echoes that sentiment, "A lot of times, competitive athletes just really want to push it. That's the mentality; 'We just want to suck it up and get back in the game.'" He continues, "It's really not a great idea, especially when we're talking about the shoulder. There are injuries in the shoulder that, if treated early enough, won't require surgery. So, take care of it sooner rather than later—brushing it under the carpet doesn't make a lot of sense."

The Door Orthopedic Center at Door County Medical Center is a state-of-the-art facility paired with a top-notch orthopedic team that can get you back to daily living and your favorite activities as soon as possible. Our patients can expect exceptional outcomes—93% of our patients are discharged directly to their home, and The Door Orthopedic Center currently boasts a 100% overall satisfaction score.

To schedule an appointment at Door County Medical Center's Door Orthopedic Center, go to: or call Door County Medical Center at 920-743-5566.

Search our blog

Popular Tags

3D Mammography   75   75th   acid reflux   addiction   adrc   advance directive   Affective   alcohol   Algoma   Algoma Community Wellness Center   als   alzheimer's disease   Ambassador   American College of Healthcare Executives   Angel Ball   anniversary   antibody treatment   anti-bullying   apnea   art   art for health   art gallery   arthritis   athlete   athletic edge camp   athletic trainer   Auxiliary   award   awards   Awareness   back   behavioral health   bone marrow transplant   Bravo   Breast Cancer Awareness Month   breast cancer prevention   breastfeeding   Brian   brussels sprout slaw   Burkitt Leukemia   C.H.I.P.   cancer   cardiac   cardiopulmonary services   care manager   catholic   catholic sisters   Celebrate Community   celebration   center   Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services   ceremony   certification   childcare   children   cold flu prevention   colon cancer   colonoscopy   community   community health   Community outreach   Coronavirus   COVID 19   COVID-19 booster   COVID-19 vaccine   critical access hospital   CT scanner   cyberbullying   da Vinci robot   da Vinci Surgical System   Daylight Savings Time   DCMC   DCMC Auxiliary   DCMC staff   dementia   dental clinic   dentist   depot   depression   diabetes   diagnostic imaging   Diana Wallace   diet   Disorder   dogs   Domestic Violence Awareness   donate   donor   Door County   Door County CARES   door county half marathon   Door County Meals Cooperative   door county schools   Door County Triathlon   Door County YMCA   Door Healthy Weight Center   Door Orthopedic Center   Dr. Daniel Tomaszewski   Dr. Elizabeth Gaida   Dr. Mark Jordan   Dr. Michael St. Jean   Dr. Reisner   Dr. Rory Johnson   Dr. Shaun Melarvie   drive-through clinic   e-cigs   economic impact   economy   Edge 3D   Education   emergency department   employee art   employment   environment   environmental stewardship   exercise   fair   Family   family medicine   family practice   farmer's market   first responders   fitness   five   five star hospital   Florence Nightingale   flu   foot   foot pain   Foundation   fundraiser   gallery   gardening   Gerald   GERD   gynecological procedures   handwashing   happy holidays   head   health   health tips   healthcare   healthcare leader   healthcare leaders   healthy eating   heart   heart healthy   heart-attack   heartburn   Heartburn and Reflux Center   Help Our Heroes   hernia   hernia screening   hip replacement   history   HOPELINE   hospice   hospital   House and Garden Walk   HPV   Human Kindness Project   immunization   infant   insomnia   internships   job   jody boes   joint replacement   June   kelsie ladick   kids   Kids' health   kim   knee replacement   Lab Drive-Thru   LEAP   lice   life   LifeAssist   living will   luke spude   lyme disease   mammography   marinara sauce   medical services   medication   memory   memory clinic   memory loss   men's health   men's health month   mental health   mental illness   milk   ministry   ministry fund   mission and values   MRI   National Donate Life Month   national heath decisions day   national hospital week   National Nurses Week   National Organ Donation Day   National Women’s History Month   navigator   New Year   newborn   news   non-profits   North Shore Medical Clinic   novel coronavirus   nurse   nursing   nursing excellence   nursing program   nutrition   nwtc   obesity   OB-GYN   OPSU   organ   organ donor   orthopedics   outpatient surgery   outreach   patient   patient care   Patti Balestrieri   Paula Hobart   pediatrics   pelvic health   pets   physical activity   physical therapy   podiatrist   post exercise tips   PRC   Prevea   prevention   primary care   Providers   race   recipe   recovery   reflux   rehab services   resolutions   respiratory illness   robotic surgery   rotator cuff repair   RSV   running   rural   rural healthcare   SAAM   SAD   scholarship   scholarships   school   School Nursing   Seasonal   senior life solutions   senior therapy   Seniors   services   sexual assault   Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner   Shop and Dine Day   Sister Bay   Sister Bay Clinic   skilled nursing   skilled nursing facility   skin cancer   Sleep   sleep disorder   sleep lab   smoking   snf   social justice   specialty providers   sports   sports medicine   sports training   St. Francis   star   state-of-the-art   Stephens   stroke patients   studer group   suicide awareness   suicide awareness month   suicide prevention   summer   summer programs   sun care   surgery   sweet dreams   swiggum   technology   Teen health   Teens   telemedicine   teleNICU   telepediatrics   The Angel Ball   The Community's Garden   The Healing Project   ticks   tissue donor   to   training tips   Treatment   triathlon   urgent care   vaccination   vaccinations   vaccine   vaping   virtual appontments   virtual visit   volunteers   wall   Washington Island   wellness   Wendy Ulrikson   women's center   women's health   work injuries   world breastfeeding week   Worrick   years   YMCA   youth workshops