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Shoulder Injury Couldn’t Stop His Green Thumb
March 08, 2019

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Herb Stecker loves working in the greenhouse on his property in Saylorsburg, Pa.

Back in 2012, that labor of love turned into a recipe for disaster when he tripped in his shed and fell into some equipment, dislocating his right collarbone. “I couldn’t even lift my arm up parallel to the ground,” said Stecker.

Fortunately, Stecker knew right where to go for extraordinary orthopedic care. He was still working as a physical education teacher at Phillipsburg High School at the time, and he immediately got in touch with orthopedic surgeon Nicholas Avallone, MD, at St. Luke’s Orthopedic Care. Dr. Avallone is the orthopedist for the Phillipsburg athletic teams.

“I’ve known Herb a long time and he is a great guy,” Dr. Avallone said. “When he fell, his collarbone dislocated from its normal position, which is called a separated shoulder, but his was a very badly separated shoulder.”

Herb’s shoulder dislocation separated the AC joint, the place where the clavicle (collarbone) meets the acromion, the highest point of the shoulder. Two of the main ligaments that hold the joint in place had torn.

Keeping in line with St. Luke’s philosophy of cut-last for orthopedic care, Dr. Avallone sent Stecker to physical therapy for a few weeks, but when the non-operative treatment didn’t help Stecker get his arm to function any better, it was time for surgery, something Herb had never undergone.

“I’ve been pretty lucky as far as aches and pains go,” he said. “This was my first-ever surgery. I never even had my skin cut before. Dr. Avallone walked me through the procedure, telling me everything he was going to do, step by step. I think the world of Dr. Avallone. I have a lot of confidence in him.”

Dr. Avallone needed to use cadaver tissue to reconstruct the coracoclavicular ligaments of the AC joint.

Stecker wore a sling for six weeks and completed his rehabilitation with Physical Therapy at St. Luke’s. He worked with Alison Roll, PT, DPT, OCS.

“Herb was a great patient. He performed his home exercise program regularly and was motivated to get back to his functional activities,” says Roll. “From working closely with him and Dr. Avallone, we were able to ensure a speedy and full recovery.”

After retiring from teaching in 2014, Stecker continues to be a happy gardener, managing his greenhouse with full use and function of his right arm and shoulder thanks to the extraordinary St. Luke’s orthopedic care.

“My operation was smooth, professional and well-orchestrated,” Stecker said. “I’m very happy with the results and the movement in my arm. I attribute that to Dr. Avallone, who suggested I go take part in the physical therapy. “