Jay Woolmington with Wife

While Jay Woolmington was headed to his weekly recreational soccer game in the summer of 2019, he was looking forward to some friendly competition. Unfortunately, during a breakaway opportunity, Jay was accidentally tripped from behind. Flying forward in a full Superman, Jay tucked his body before he hit the ground. His right shoulder took the brunt of the impact. “I got up and my right arm was completely hanging,” said Jay.

Jay was rushed to a local emergency room where he got an x-ray and was misdiagnosed with a minor AC joint injury. “I was completely in shock that the diagnosis was so minor. They told me that this injury would not require surgery and that I would be lucky to ever fully regain strength and range of motion in my right arm.” Not satisfied with his original diagnosis, Jay followed up with a local doctor who recommended he get an MRI. In a lot of pain, Jay began researching how to get better faster. Ultimately, Jay went to see Dr. Cunningham in Vail to seek another opinion.

Jay is very active. He fly fishes, rides horses, and participates in sports. No stranger to an injury or two, Jay had hand surgery at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery in early 2019. “I was very familiar with VSON. Actually, my father had knee surgery by Dr. Cunningham several years ago.” When Jay called the office and mentioned the severity of his injury, he got an appointment the next day with Dr. Cunningham. When he came in for his appointment, Jay’s symptoms were severe. His arm was in a sling with his clavicle visibly protruding out of his shoulder joint. He was unable to lift his arm or lay flat while sleeping.

Front view of Jay’s AC joint injury

Back view of Jay’s AC joint injury

Jay got his MRI transferred to Dr. Cunningham’s office. During his appointment, Dr. Cunningham confirmed Jay’s initial thoughts–the injury was much worse than he was originally told. “Dr. Cunningham absolutely recommended surgery for my injury. He was very clear with me that due to the severity of the injury, I had to be very diligent with my physical therapy process to ensure a successful outcome.”

On August 23rd, 2019, Jay went in for AC joint shoulder surgery. “My anxiety level was high going into surgery. The staff at Vail Health, and specifically Victoria, did a great job keeping my nerves at ease with a detailed explanation of every step of the process.” Dr. Cunningham performed an AC joint reconstruction on Jay’s right shoulder. Dr. Cunningham performs this surgery arthroscopically, and uses strong suture material and a donor tendon to reconstruct all of the torn ligaments that hold the AC joint properly aligned. Surgery went smoothly and then recovery began.

“Right after surgery I was very groggy. The staff did a great job explaining to me and my wife all of the post-op instructions, including the Game Ready ice machine.” Jay and his wife headed back to Buena Vista on the road to recovery. “Just a few days after surgery Dr. Cunningham called me personally to see how I was doing.”

Jay began physical therapy locally in Buena Vista at 6 weeks post-op. “The toughest part of this process for me was the mental piece. I grew up on a horse ranch, I have been active my whole life, and I knew what it took to toughen up. Not being able to do anything was very difficult for me. Dr. Cunningham was extremely encouraging to me through this process. I felt like he gave me extra attention and helped me through this challenging process.”

“At my 12 week post-op visit, Victoria told me my x-ray imaging was the best she had ever seen this early in the recovery. Dr. Cunningham was quick to remind me that I was not out of the woods yet, and to keep being diligent with all of my physical therapy.” Jay continued to make leaps and bounds during physical therapy and in November he was released from physical therapy. His therapist told him that he was the “poster patient” for this procedure.

Jay fly fishing 6 months post-op

Today, Jay is 6 months post-op and he has full range of motion and is back to his activities. He still has some weakness in his rotator cuff, but he is regaining strength each day. “I am an 11 out of 10.”

“What I appreciated the most about Dr. Cunningham’s style of care was that he was extremely informative, had such a high level of professionalism and gave such a personal touch through the whole process. The quality of his communication put me at ease. Not only was he such a great communicator, but his team, Victoria and Erika did a wonderful job communicating with me. I would highly recommend seeing Dr. Cunningham! It was such a contrast going from having mismanaged care to the best in the world.”

There are no guarantees of outcome. All surgeries involve the risk of major complications. Before you decide on surgery, discuss treatment options with your doctor. Understanding the risks of each treatment can help you make the best decision for your individual situation. Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits. Only your doctor can determine the appropriate treatment for your situation. The clinical information and opinions, including any inaccuracies expressed in this material by patients or doctor are not necessarily those of Richard Cunningham, MD and should not be considered as substitute for medical advice provided by your doctor.

Rediscover your inner athlete

Dr. Cunningham specializes in the treatment of knee, shoulder, and sports injuries.