Don’t shoulder pain by yourself!

Travis High School’s Bryan Schuh was used to getting knocked around on the football field, where he once played defensive tackle.
But during the Tigers’ baseball season when he hit the ground to beat out a throw, Bryan felt a pop in his shoulder and his arm went numb. The diagnosis was a rotator cuff strain, and he missed the last three weeks of the Tigers’ season while he rehabbed and rested his shoulder.

Not long after his return, during a summer league game, he felt the same pop when he dove head-first into third base. This time, he knew it was serious.
Fortunately for Bryan, he had an all-star medical team from Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine at Sugar Land on his side, led by Thomas Rivers, M.D., board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in shoulders and knees.

After a physical examination and imaging, Rivers told Bryan he had suffered what is called a SLAP tear, for “superior labrum from anterior to posterior.” The labrum is a thick, soft, cup-shaped piece of cartilage that lines the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder, providing stability. SLAP tears occur on the front of the upper arm where the biceps tendon connects to the shoulder. Bryan also had several superficial tears along the back of his labrum.

“Dr. Rivers told me that I could heal without surgery, but I might not ever be able to play baseball again because I wouldn’t be able to throw properly,” said Bryan, now a senior at Travis. “But with surgery and physical therapy, I had a 90 percent chance of being fully healed and able to play.”

The specialists you need – close to home

Bryan was in good hands with Rivers and the staff at Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, which is conveniently located on the hospital’s campus and offers 14 board-certified specialists across the full range of needs – including foot and ankle, knee and shoulder, hand and upper extremity, primary care sports medicine and orthopedic spine surgery.

Backed by the latest and most sophisticated imaging capabilities – and supported by board-certified and fellowship-trained physical therapists and rehabilitation specialists – Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine is the leading choice of athletes, everyday active adults, and people of all ages suffering from acute injury or just the wear and tear of daily life.

Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine is also the official healthcare provider of the Houston Texans, Houston Astros and Sugar Land Space Cowboys, as well as Rice University athletics and Fort Bend ISD athletics.

Personal, compassionate care

During an hour-and-a-half outpatient surgery in late June, Rivers repaired Bryan’s labrum and reattached it to the bone socket for stability. But before surgery, Rivers did something that made a lasting impression on Bryan and his mother Sharilyn.

“Dr. Rivers was straight up with me from the beginning, and I knew I could trust him,” Bryan recalled. “But right before surgery, he asked if he could pray with me, and we did. That made a big impression on me.”

“You can tell he truly cares about his patients,” Sharilyn said. “Everyone who knows Dr. Rivers will tell you he’s the best.”
A week after surgery, Bryan began physical therapy at Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine’s state-of-the-art facility. After a couple of weeks, he could tell that he was healing well and on track to rejoin his team in time for the start of the baseball season this spring.

Bryan’s care team also includes Scotty Wild, physical therapist at Houston Methodist, and Meghan Shank, Travis High School athletic trainer. “My physical therapist Scotty Wild is really into baseball, and he knows how to help players recover from injuries and return to the field,” he said. “He’s really helped me get stronger.”

Not just for athletes

Of course, not every patient at Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine at Sugar Land is an athlete. The specialists there treat patients of all ages and conditions.

“Many of my patients simply have what I call a ‘wear-and-tear’ condition,” Rivers said. “Once you pass the age of 40, the shoulder and other joints can begin to break down just from use over the years. It’s not uncommon for people with hobbies or jobs that require them to use their arms and shoulders a lot to have SLAP tears and other injuries just from daily living.”

In addition, accidents such as falls can create shoulder issues.

“The impact that Bryan experienced when he slid into third base can also occur when someone trips or loses their balance and falls on their arm or shoulder, creating a labrum tear,” Rivers said. “Sometimes the patient isn’t even aware of what has happened until they struggle when reaching for something or extending their arm in a certain way.” And just like an athlete, those patients can benefit from the expertise and skill of the Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine team.

“There’s no reason to put off seeing a specialist when you experience pain, discomfort or a reduced quality of life,” Rivers said. “Some patients are nervous about surgery, but in fact, we are fortunate to have an outstanding physical therapy team here that can help a lot of patients regain their shoulder strength and mobility without surgery. We’ll develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your specific injury or condition and situation. Don’t live with pain.”

Visit to learn more about Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital.





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