Kris Hartner of Naperville, a competitive runner since age 13, has participated Ironman competitions, multiple marathons, triathlons and cycling races. When a bike crash in Spain threatened to dramatically change this lifestyle, he turned to the doctors at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush (MOR) to help him get his active, athletic life back on track.
Last winter, Hartner, 52, and his son were biking on a mountain road in Calpe, Spain when they came around a corner covered in ice and Hartner crashed, landing on his shoulder.
“That created a whole adventure for us -- getting medical care in a foreign country,” Hartner explained. “We got a ride to the local town doctor who couldn’t do anything for me but tried to arrange an ambulance, which would have taken four hours. So, my son walked to a bar and paid a guy to drive us to the city and that’s where they took x-rays."
After the doctors in Spain told him he should go home and rest for a few weeks and take some Advil, Hartner felt uncomfortable with this plan. He posted his x-rays on social media and it was there that Dr. Tom Lotus, a MOR chiropractic physician, saw them and reached out to Dr. Grant Garrigues, a MOR shoulder specialist and co-team physician for the Chicago White Sox.
“I got the feedback that I needed to come home and have surgery,” said Hartner. “I understood that you don’t just let this kind of injury heal on its own. My shoulder looked to be in multiple pieces and all over the place. So, I flew back and Garrigues got me in right away.”
As a competitive athlete, Hartner was worried that this injury meant he wasn’t going to be able to run or bike well anymore, but Garrigues assured him that he would help him get back to his active life as soon as possible.
“My biggest worry was that I worked hard to be in good shape, and I run a lot, so I didn’t want that all to go to waste and have to start all over,” Hartner explained.
Hartner’s surgery and recovery went smoothly. Garrigues used a minimally invasive technique using a long threaded rod to minimize the potential complications of a long incision, including a plate which can be prominent, or screw holes which can leave weak points in the bone in case of future falls. He then used a long screw to hold Hartner’s shoulder together.
“The technique I used was developed for the special forces and airborne paratroopers who break their clavicles during a jump but then need to wear a parachute and ruck-sack straps over their shoulders,” said Garrigues “Whether it’s a special forces commando, one of our White Sox players, or a weekend warrior, they all want the same thing—to get back in the game, 100 percent, as quickly as possible.”
A few days post-surgery, Hartner was back to training indoors. After about eight weeks, he was able to bike outside again. The screw stayed in his shoulder for a bit longer, but he was pain free and back to riding just like before his accident.
“Kris is an amazing guy. Everything he does for cycling and running through the Naperville Running Company, chairing the Downtown Naperville Alliance, his work and play, all revolve around endurance sports,” said Garrigues. “A few weeks after his surgery he was cycling, pain free, through Majorca and France. Helping athletes like Kris get back to peak performance is what drives me.”
Hartner is the owner of the Naperville Running Company, a store in downtown Naperville that not only provides running apparel and shoes but works with the running community to help develop training programs and provide resources to runners.
“I was excited when I heard you guys were coming to Naperville because we have tens of thousands of customers come through our stores every year,” said Hartner. “Now we have a good resource to send people to when they are looking for help.”
In addition to his shoulder injury, several years ago Hartner turned to another MOR physician, Dr. Brian Forsythe, when he was experiencing knee pain. Forsythe successfully repaired a meniscus tear in his knee with a minimally invasive, arthroscopic procedure. Harter’s recovery went smoothly and he was able to run pain-free again.
“Everyone I saw at MOR was great and they all had excellent recommendations,” said Hartner. “The doctors really understand that I am into what I do, they respect that, and understand how important it is for me to get back as quickly as possible,” Hartner explained.