View Full Version : Nagging shoulder injury

David Wood
02-12-2005, 07:17 PM
Hello all:

About 3 or 4 months ago, I took a fall while trying to get the 100' handstand walking challenge. It wasn't graceful; I landed directly on the top of my left shoulder (where the collarbone joins the shoulder).

It hurt like heck at the time, and I had to lay off most upper-body work for a week or two. But it healed . . . sort of.

3 months later, I'm still plagued by pain any time I do anything where I supporting myself above my hands (e.g., pushups, dips). The motion that seems to "separate" the shoulder joint (pushes the outside up relative to the collarbone) causes pain. Pushup-intensive WODs are close to impossible.

Fortunately, there's no pain with hanging from a bar (my pullups suck, but not for this reason), and no pain with putting weights overhead . . . just dips and pushups.

Anybody able to guess what I've done to myself, and what I should be doing to resolve it? Should I just resign myself to a long, slow, recovery? Or is there something more specific I could do to get back to doing pushups sooner?

Payton Steel
02-12-2005, 10:45 PM
Sounds like anything possible from the rotator cuff all the way back to the trapezeus. You probably want to see someone about this; the longer you let something like this go, the more likely it will heal incorrectly (permanently) and it can also throw off another part of your body that's been forced to compensate for what this shoulder's not able to do. Often, this is something you'd be completely oblivious to until a few years down the road. Good luck with this, and go get it looked at!

James Hall
02-13-2005, 04:15 AM
I'll try to describe this exercise as I haven't found a picture on the net, though I do have a copy at the office. If I need to, get me a fax number and I'll get it to you tomorrow.
Sit on a chair or table. Grasp the seat with the hand on the affected side. Keep your shoulder relaxed, maintain your grip and lean away from the shoulder. You should feel a distraction in the shoulder joint. If you pull so hard it's painful then you're pulling too hard. Do 10 reps, 4-5 times per day. If overhead work, pushups, etc is closing down the subacromial space then distracting the joint should help. Let me know.

Brian Hand
02-13-2005, 09:10 AM
David, it sounds like you might have separated your shoulder. My tip off was when you said you separated your shoulder. Seriously this is often what happens when you take a fall or a hit like that. Picture the two bones that come together front and back at the point of your shoulder (AC joint). When you are doing a pushup or dip, the AC joint rests right on top of your upper arm bone. The pressure tends to separate the joint. I'd definitely have this looked at and I'd definitely stop doing dips and pushups until you can do them pain free.

William Hunter
02-13-2005, 12:18 PM
I think Brian and James nailed this one. AC injuries really make it hard to do a dip or pushup. AC separations can be graded from 1-3. The more serious ones need a special taping job to stabilize the damaged ligaments (ortho or PT would be the best bet). I see James is a PT. Maybe he can write more about this.

Good Luck!

David Wood
02-13-2005, 04:18 PM
My thanks to all . . . although I was really hoping for something like: "Take this magic pill" (j/k).

James, you can fax me at work (just put my name on it): David Wood, 908 541-1595. I will be grateful.

I've suspected a shoulder separation . . . but haven't really wanted to contemplate what healing that would involve.

Assuming that, what will the medical / PT establishment want me to do?

Thanks again,

James Hall
02-13-2005, 08:58 PM
I'll fax the picture to you tomorrow. Any questions, call 254-628-8391.


David Wood
02-14-2005, 08:37 PM
Got it, thanks, James,

Michael Keller
02-23-2005, 10:59 PM

Several years ago, I seperated my shoulder practicing rolls from a moving vehicle (martial arts class). Being the stubborn guy I am, I sucked it up for a year before going to the doctor.:uhoh: When I finally did go, it was diagnosed as a seperation (AC joint) and bursitis had set in. To make a long story short, I went to PT for a few months and took naprosyn for over a year. Push-ups and dips were unbearable. The doc wanted to do surgery, but I didn't. I continued working it out and stretching the shoulder a lot and eventually it got much better. Every now and then it will remind me with a little pain, but for the most part, I have been pain free for a few years.

Don't put off seeing the doc and be stubborn like I was. It kept getting worse and more painful until I had no choice, and could have been treated much easier if I hadn't been so stubborn.

I hope yours gets better.

David Wood
02-24-2005, 06:27 PM

Yeah, it's pretty clear that I'm in full denial mode . . . been "sucking it up" for 3 months now, but it's not getting much better (pushups are a bit better (10 in a row isn't bad), but dips are still close to impossible).

What was the PT? And how was it better to have done that, versus the ongoing stubborness and working it out on your own?

Like you, there's (almost) no way I'm going to go under the knife . . . too much down time, too many risks that it won't come out better.


Michael Keller
02-25-2005, 10:59 AM
It's been about 10 years now since this happened, but here's what I remember of the PT sessions. Heat packs, followed by the sound wave treatments. I then did internal and external rotations with very light weights.I also remember doing front lateral raises with tubing, at about a 45 degree angle between the having your arms extended straight out to the front and straight out to your sides, if that makes sense. I'm sure there was more, but that's all I remember. It was nothing that you really can't do yourself, and I continued doing it on my own.

I think the biggest thing that helped me was taking the NSAIDS for about a year, along with continual stretching and strengthening. My shoulder was seperated, and then bursitis set in at the AC joint, but could have been treated much easier if I had only went to the doc sooner, instead it steadily got worse. It's about 95% now, which is as good as it will get, and rarely bothers me at all on any type of lifts.

Jonathan Kessler
03-15-2005, 08:06 AM
Get an accurate diagnosis before you rule out (or rule in) surgery.
I screwed up both my shoulders, in large part because of my skeletal structure, in equally large part because of lifting very heavy weights when I was young, macho and stupid. Both became long term, untreated, residual injuries. Then I acutely hurt the right one. I did PT (with a good PT) for a year before an MRI showed the labrum was torn. Only way to fix that is surgery. I did surgery, it wasn't pleasant but the shoulder now works.
About a year later I acutely injured the other shoulder doing BJJ. After about a month I realized that it was a similar situation, and went in for surgery. Outcome - completely functional left shoulder, in a much shorter timeframe than if I had f**'d around with it.
You'll wind up doing PT either way, if you do surgery PT is critical to full recovery.
Downtime is relative. I had a lot more downtime on the shoulder I "wasn't going to go under the knife for" than the one I decided relatively quickly to go do it.
If diagnosis shows surgery as an option - find an extremely good surgeon. It makes all the difference in the world. Talk to PT's in your area - they see all the post-surgical cases. Ask which Doc has the best outcomes and the least screw-ups.
Not saying surgery is The Way, but that you might do yourself a disservice by ruling it out before you know what's actually going on in your shouler.

Frank C Ollis
03-15-2005, 12:15 PM
No advice, but, I pulled my Trap wrestling and it is taking forever to heal. My whole shoulder was a yellowish looking bruise for 2 weeks. Next time i'd rather he just kick me in the privates.

David Wood
03-15-2005, 09:03 PM
Well, I'm going to have to move "denial" up to my first name (instead of middle name). I still haven't done anything about this (i.e., still haven't seen a doc).

/sniveling excuse mode ON

I've been BUSY, darn it.

/sniveling excuse mode OFF

I've gotten better about both Zone diet and fish oil supplementation (not willing to do so publicly as Josh); the fish oil *seems* to be helping a bit. Today's workout "Cindy", with multiple rounds of 10 pushups was pretty good . . . the shoulder itself did not hurt (pushups were still the weak link in that drill, however).

Alas, dips still hurt.

Basically, right now it's not enough of an annoyance to motivate me to take the time and trouble to see a doc . . . just enough to make me complain about it.

(Of course, if Coach sees this, he'll probably put dips in 5 of the next 10 WODs just to get me to go . . .)