Patient Stories

Ben W. Kittredge, IV, MD

Midway through his senior year at Loudoun County High School, Jack underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He faced a months-long rehab that would keep him on the sidelines during his final tennis season. But Jack didn’t sit out for long. He was so determined to help his team make it to the state championships, he devised a novel solution: he played the entire season with his left hand. 

Jack tore his labrum during a pickup basketball game in a friend’s back yard. Initially, he shrugged off the discomfort and continued to play tennis. But when his shoulder still bothered him two months later, he made a difficult decision. “I could keep playing tennis and risk spending the next four years in college dealing with the problem, or I could take six months, get healthy and start college ready to play,” he says. “I elected to have the surgery.”

Jack consulted OrthoVirginia surgeon Ben Kittredge, MD, who performed an arthroscopic labral repair. In this minimally invasive approach, the surgeon makes several small incisions around the shoulder joint and inserts a narrow fiber optic scope (called an arthroscope) to examine the condition of the labrum. Tiny instruments are used to repair and reattach the tendon to the bone with suture anchors. The entire procedure takes less than an hour and patients go home the same day. 

Jack began hitting ground strokes with his right arm four months after surgery and was cleared to return to the court after six months. But that didn’t stop him from staying in competition during his rehab. With his right arm in a sling, against all odds, he won match after match playing with his left hand. His team made it all the way to the state championship semi-finals. “Doing this was my one last hoorah – my way of doing everything I could to help the team and not let my teammates down,”he says.

Jack is now playing Division 1 tennis at the University of Connecticut, where he’s already contributed to a winning fall season. His arm is fully recovered and he knows he made the right decision to have surgery and bring his best game to college. He offers this advice to his fellow athletes: “If you’re willing to commit to a rough six months – physically and emotionally – and give up activities that you love, in the end it’s worth it,” he says. “It’s a short-term sacrifice for a long-term gain.”