Patient Stories

Ben W. Kittredge, IV, MD

As a star lacrosse player in high school, Sam dislocated his shoulder so many times he became an expert at popping it back in. Eventually, his concerned parents took him to see Ben Kittredge, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at OrthoVirginia. Dr. Kittredge had a simple message for the Edgewater, MD teenager: “If you want this to stop, you’ll have to have surgery.”

Sam’s multiple shoulder dislocations had caused an injury known as a Bankart lesion in the lower part of his labrum, the cartilage that surrounds and cushions the shoulder joint. Both Bankart injuries and SLAP lesions, which damage the uppermost area of the labrum, are common in young overhead athletes, especially throwers, swimmers and those playing contact sports. Treatment includes physical therapy and rehabilitation to strengthen the surrounding shoulder girdle muscles and provide stability or, in more serious cases, arthroscopic or open surgery to reattach the torn tissue.

OrthoVirginia surgeons, many of whom are fellowship trained in sports medicine, see a very large athletic population and do a lot of these procedures. The vast majority of patients under 20 with a dislocated shoulder, such as Sam, will require an operation.

Most of these procedures are performed arthroscopically with a tiny incision that doesn’t disrupt the normal anatomy. This tendon-preserving method is not only much easier on the patient, it also gives surgeons better access to all areas of the shoulder joint than a traditional, open procedure so they can create a more balanced repair.

Dr Kittredge repaired Sam’s left shoulder during his junior year of high school and performed similar surgery on his right shoulder just after he graduated. Both procedures were extremely successful and Sam has not had a shoulder dislocation since. In each case, he spent six months in rehabilitation before returning to the playing field. He is now playing Division I lacrosse at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, where he was recruited out of high school. The season includes games against top teams such as Army, Navy, and Bucknell.

“Sam had a great outcome and our family was very pleased with the whole show at OrthoVirginia,” says Sam’s father, Bruce. “There were no surprises with any of the treatment or rehabilitation and we always knew what to expect. We would recommend Dr. Kittredge to anyone. He has a great demeanor and he tells it like it is. Sam doesn’t always listen to me, but he listens to Ben. He follows his rules and he respects him. As Sam says, ‘Ben is the man.’”