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Jason Kerkow 01-22-2009 02:09 PM

AC Joint Advice
The results of my MRI today showed degeneration in both of my AC joints. According to my doctor this condition never really gets any better because the bone itself is partially broken down. The only 2 real options according to him (and he seems very knowledgeable) are to learn to live with it or have the ends of my collar bones removed. According to him, and from what I have read, surgery success rates are very high, although I may not be back to normal for up to a year.
Do any of you have any first hand experience? Other options? Advice?

Steven Low 01-22-2009 03:10 PM

Re: AC Joint Advice
What kind of degeneration? Osteoarthritis?

Eliminating the amount of inflammation with anti-inflammatories might help some. Fish oil is good. Glute and nightshade intolerance, cut down the amount of carbs. It depends on your genetics but if you're incompatible with some of these and they're causing inflammation, it can lead to degeneration. Not always the case though.

As far as that goes if your diet is already pretty good, I don't know enough about surgery to the AC joint to give you an opinion. Might be a good idea to get a second opinion from a doc who treats athletes though.

Arturo Garcia 01-24-2009 09:23 AM

Re: AC Joint Advice
I was back to normal (or 99%) about 8 weeks after surgery, and I had open surgery and not arthroscopy. I think my doc shaved a bit of bone from both, the end of the clavicle, and a little bit of the acromium. I did TONS of research and reading on this procedure before deciding to get it done, and for the most part I found it is indeed an easy procedure with very high success rate. My only regret is not doing it sooner, I wasted over a year not being able to workout properly and progress because of AC joint arthrosis. 8 weeks after surgery I had full ROM in every direction, no pain, and was doing crossfit.

Jason Kerkow 01-26-2009 09:41 AM

Re: AC Joint Advice
Thanks for the replies. Arturo it is good to hear you were feeling good after 8 weeks. I wonder why my doc told me a year? Maybe just giving me the worst case scenario?

Arturo Garcia 01-30-2009 07:53 AM

Re: AC Joint Advice
Well, with things like this I don't wanna tell you I can "guarantee" a fast recovery because, in all honesty, what do I know? :D

BUT, I did extensive research before deciding to had the surgery done, and that's what I found out. Do your own research so you convince yourself of what's best for you. Pretty much everyone who had it done was glad they had it done.

Seriously, I was doing burpees 7 or 8 weeks after surgery. :) and I had a bit of bone removed from both bones where they meet, and like I said, open surgery that left a 2.5" scar, and it's supossed to be slower recovery like this, maybe you can get arthroscopy?

The first few days are a pain in the arse, and hurts if you try to move your arm (use those muscles that were just detached/attached from the shoulder... just thinking about it makes me feel weird, lol). I went to therapy 10 days (monday-friday for two weeks) and then kept doing band stuff and tiny weights (lucky me I have 1.25 and 2.5 pound plates). Some exercises hurt, at first, but with time they stopped hurting, so I just figured I was fine.

I'm telling you, my surgery was late May, I was setting PR's in dumbell press and push press months ago, before I screwed up my other shoulder. :D

Eric Tuley 02-03-2009 06:38 AM

Re: AC Joint Advice
I had AC joint surgery done in July 05. I could not take a T-shirt off crossing my arms in front of me. I could not sleep on my right side without extending my arm straight, I could not bench press or do pushups without a lot of pain. I had 3 cortisone shots which did not do **** for it. This is a VERY common and easy surgery. Imagine a little dremmel taking close to 1/8th inch off your colar bone. You are just removing the bone on bone rubbing giving the cartilage room to sit. It was the best thing I did. 3 days after surgery I was at work. 6-7 weeks later I was working out at 90%. 8-10 weeks I was benching 315 with no pain. Still good today.. and any lift overhead is pain free.

Hope all goes well.

Jason Kerkow 02-04-2009 12:35 PM

Re: AC Joint Advice
Thanks again for the replies. I have trouble taking my shirt off regularly and I haven't been able to sleep on either side for quite some time. I have some thinking to do...

Arturo Garcia 02-04-2009 02:21 PM

Re: AC Joint Advice
Just clearing something out: while Eric said that they are just removing 1/8" inch off the colar bone to let the carilague sit, I think it doesn't quite work like that.

If you have AC joint arthrosis like I did (you say degeneration in your original post), it means the cartilague is probably already worn out. At least that is what I think, maybe someone with more knowledge than me can chime in. But as far as I've read, if the bones are rubbing is because there is no cartilague there anymore. By removing some bone from the collar bone, or from the acromion, or a bit off both, you create a "spcae" that obviously wont be filled with air - it will be filled with SCAR TISSUE. The scar tissue then acts like cartilague and doesn't let the two bones rub against each other after surgery.

At least that is what I understood from what I read before my surgery, but I'm an engineer, so maybe I don't have the greatest understanding of anatomy and medical procedures.

Jacob Cloud 02-04-2009 02:51 PM

Re: AC Joint Advice
Unfortunately, it doesn't always go that well. My left shoulder scope/cleanup in Dec 07 took at least 6 months of recovery...and depending on how you look at, I'm really just recently hitting PRs and (barely) exceeding the strength levels I had before the surgery - and I still don't have the actual muscle mass that I had pre-surgery (though this is because I've been dieting to lose the massive amounts of fat I gained afterwards). Not looking forward to getting the right one done, to say the least.

I can *usually* sleep on my left side now, but not at all on the right.

Not sure if it makes a difference, but I don't believe they "Dremeled" the offensive parts of the joint for me, so much as they "burninated" them. I have some vids, it's funky stuff. I guess I'm glad I had the surgery, but the recovery was MUCH worse than I thought it'd be. Hell, I still catch myself holding my left arm like it's in a sling every once in awhile. I also run into minor snags in my ROM, have clicks, etc. My doc is a highly respected sports-shoulder-surgeon, too, so it's not like it was a hack job.

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