“Awesome” Team and “Best” Surgeon put CrossFit fan on Road to Recovery

Jessika Widerman, Clinical Program Manager in Admitting at The Mount Sinai Hospital, is a big fan of CrossFit training. But hard workouts can be tough on one’s body, and Jessika suffered from both knee and shoulder pain. Seeking multiple opinions on treatment, she saw a testimonial on the website of a physical therapy office connected with her gym by James Gladstone, MD, Chief of Sports Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. When her gym closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, her pain started getting worse, and she decided to see Dr. Gladstone. Her initial consultation was for her knee, but the bigger problem was actually her shoulder. Dr. Gladstone advised her that she needed surgery called a labrum tear repair with cyst removal. Unfortunately, this was considered elective surgery, which was limited during the pandemic, so she had to wait. But knew she wanted to have the procedure as soon as it was allowed.

“Jessika had an unusual, yet well-known problem,” Dr. Gladstone explains, “where she had torn the posterior part of her labrum (the ring of tissue that allows the ligaments holding the ball of the shoulder in the socket).  The joint fluid then escaped through this tear and collected as a ganglion cyst directly over the nerve that feeds the muscle that provides external rotation to the shoulder, and her profound weakness was the giveaway, especially considering how well-toned and strong she was otherwise.  Unfortunately, in cases like these, the only way to fix the problem is to decompress the cyst to relieve the pressure on the nerve, and then repair the labrum so that fluid won’t reaccumulate.  The additional issue is that the longer you leave a nerve compressed and not working the higher the risk that it may not recover fully.”

When elective surgery resumed in early May 2020, hers was one of the first procedures scheduled. Her case did not require an overnight stay, but everyone involved—nurses, aides, transporters—was “awesome,” Jessika says. “My nurse in the Operating Room, Gina Tuazon, is one of the best humans I’ve ever met.”

Jessika also has high praise for Dr. Gladstone. “Oh my gosh, stop looking and don’t go anywhere else! He is the best,” she says. “Dr. Gladstone was always accessible to answer my questions, as was his staff.  Either by phone or email, they were in touch within 24 hours. Given that my family is not close by, I was grateful for that level of responsiveness and concern.”

Jessika had been coming into the midtown offices at Mount Sinai, and was aware of the level of safety being taken around the Health System, so was not particularly nervous about coming back for her follow-up appointment. “I was impressed with the safety precautions, including two temperature checks. And there was no time in the waiting area; I was immediately taken to an exam room.”

Jessika’s nerve is responding extremely well to the surgery, according to Dr. Gladstone, and Jessika has begun physical therapy.  She is happy to be well on the way to recovery. “I made the right decision not to wait to have my shoulder repair. I am looking forward to getting back into my exercise routine.”