Stay in the Game: Elite College Rower Gets Back on the Water with the Help of Arthrex Innovation
If you consider the drive and tenacity it takes to make it as a Division I varsity rower at Clemson University, it likely comes as no surprise that Ikelle Iturbe brought that same focus to fighting her way back from an injury that may have sidelined others.
“We were doing a test on the rowing machine and I felt a pop in my shoulder,” Ikelle said. “It felt like fire and I knew immediately that I was injured. I finished the test, but I was bawling because of the pain.”
That was in the fall of 2021 and after seeing a series of doctors and working with trainers, her injury went undiagnosed for a year, despite repeated MRIs.
“I was in and out of racing; nobody knew what the injury was, they thought it could be nerve damage because I had pain my neck and developed frozen shoulder,” Ikelle said. “I couldn’t even lift my arm to put up my hair. I tried to push through and race, but every time I’d come back crying from the pain.”
Finally, after a year of struggle, Ikelle met Nathan Moroski, MD* (Seneca, SC), who did an MRI with contrast and diagnosed her with a posterior labral tear that required surgery, along with a biceps tenodesis.
“She had been dealing with pain for a full season before I saw her and her shoulder had gotten very stiff,” Dr. Moroski said. “Even a small labral tear is very problematic in a high-level rower.”
As upsetting as it was to know she needed surgery, Ikelle says it was an even bigger relief to have a diagnosis and a plan.
“It’s hard with injuries you can’t see,” she said. “My coaches and trainers were really supportive of me, but people couldn’t know how painful it was.”
Ikelle pushed through two months of physical therapy to regain motion in her shoulder before undergoing surgery. Dr. Moroski performed an arthroscopic posterior labral repair using Knotless 1.8 FiberTak®soft anchors, along with a biceps tenodesis using Knotless 2.6 FiberTak soft anchors.
“Ikelle is doing great, she worked so hard to get back to where she is,” he said. “She had been so miserable. When I saw her six weeks post-op, it was the first time I saw her smile.”
Ikelle says she felt immediate relief after the surgery and only continued to improve in the months following the procedure.
“I feel great. I have complete range of motion again and I can do everything I want to do. Racing season was great, I was so happy to be back and not be hurting,” she said.
And Dr. Moroski says that is the best part of his job.
“It’s a thrill to see her smiling and getting back to doing what she loves without pain.”