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Old 06-19-2011, 03:00 AM   #1
Gravel Brown
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My SLAP Journey...

My SLAP Journey:

I thought id post my story relating to the SLAP tear in my right shoulder. The road to this point has been an extremely long and frustrating one that has had me asking many questions before I finally got the final answer: “you have a SLAP tear and you require surgery”.

I thought id post this as I believe that it may help others who go through the same thing. I recall when I first injured my shoulder I was searching the internet daily for answers so I figure if this helps one person through their ordeal then its worth it. Here’s my story:

Im 36 years old, 6’3, 105 kgs. Ive been into sport, fitness and weights my whole life.

In November 2010 I was CFing in the gym at work. I was doing a workout called “Lucky Sevens”, (7 exercises, 7 reps, 7 rounds for time). I was pretty tired by round 5 but pushed through. One particular rep of overhead kettlebell press sent my arm past the lateral position and I felt it jag. I thought it was a minor strain. I pushed through the final 2 rounds of the session. I pulled up extremely sore the next day so went to see my PT. The pain was a weird one, sometimes sharp in the front of the shoulder, but most of the time just a dull ache with the shoulder feeling pretty weak when I wasn’t exercising. Exercising actually made it feel better which I thought was also a bit strange.

The initial PT report stated that it definitely wasn’t torn as I had full strength and full ROM. He said it was just a strain that would take 2 months to heal. I then saw the PT every week for a period of 2 months but the injury never got any better. The interesting part for me has always been the fact that I could do just about everything in the gym to full strength, even heavy snatches and clean and jerks, the entire time post injury. The only thing that hurt was bench press and pushups, everything else was fine so the injury did not really effect my strength in any way.

After 2 months of PT and no improvement I started to wonder so went to see my GP. My GP sent me in for an Ultrasound which in turn showed nothing. They said everything was completely normal and I didn’t require cortisone. I left there scratching my head but feeling mildly positive.

The next few months saw me undergoing an intensive rehab program in an attempt to repair whatever I had done. Again, the important thing to remember is that both the PT and the Ultrasound doc said that everything was fine… so I continued with weights and running etc. I just stayed away from pushing movements as these were the only ones that hurt.

This led me to April 2011. The pain and weakness in my shoulder was no better and I was sick to death of it. I went back to my GP and he then referred me to see a surgeon. The surgeon immediately sent me in for a contrast MRI. Here is what the report stated at the conclusion of the MRI:

“SLAP lesion confirmed. The labrum is also torn around the inferior, anterior and posterior aspects, therefore almost circumferential. The biceps anchor is involved but the tendon remains intact at this stage. Rotator tendons intact. AC joint hypertrophy. Mild subacromial bursitis.”

I am booked in for surgery on June 22nd and require 4 anchors. The surgeon is going to cut as he feels that he will have more success this way. The surgeon is amazed that the shoulder has not dislocated yet but said that this may be due to the surrounding muscle holding everything in place.

Although I’m not looking forward to the surgery, I am looking forward to just having this whole thing over and done with. It has been an extremely frustrating process, so getting into my rehab and knowing that I will eventually be back to 100% will be a nice feeling. The surgeon has stated the rehab will be 6-12 months back to 100%.

Feel free to fire away with your thoughts, own experiences, or any questions that you wish to ask. As I said earlier, I remember when I first injured this shoulder and was searching high and low for answers so I’m happy to share my experiences with anyone else.

I’ll keep posting on here through the post op process to keep everyone updated on my road to recovery. No doubt I’ll be asking a few questions along the way aswell!!

Cheers guys.
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Old 06-19-2011, 02:12 PM   #2
Jared Paiva
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Re: My SLAP Journey...

Good evening,

I share your frustration too, I've had a shoulder issue for over year and a half now and recently found out that I have a suprispinatus tendon tear, labrum tear and two issues where my bicep meets my shoulder.

Been a long road of Chiro, PT, Orthro, sports massage and Sports Orthro. I am glad I finally know what is wrong! Thing is being Christian and believing things happen in Gods time and that is the right time, has helped me along the way! The first orthro I went to see didnt feel I needed and MRI, but gave me 3 cortisone shots within 4 weeks and sent me on my way. After a year of re hab exercises and searching net for advice, I decided to go to a a sports orthro, did manual tests, did ultrasound (he found something strange immediatly), sent me for an MRI, but already stated he thought it was a Suprasprinatus tear or Labrum tear.

Why in Gods time? If the first orthro had sent for an MRI over a year ago, it would have cost about 6400 Rand (I am from South Africa), which I couldnt afford, this sports orthro, after having heard I cant afford the MRI said he will get it reduced to 2400 Rand! This MRI was with contrast etc at a brilliant private hospital too! So things workout after all! Are MRI's Also so expensive in the states?

You are lucky you can have surgery in June, I must accumulate leave, as I have started a new job and can only have it end of year, earliest december!

Like yourself, I am so excited and keen to have op and begin my recovery to 100%. I miss lifesaving and just doing simple exercises like push ups and bench press!!!

Funny thing is, like yourself, training almost made it feel better, especially swimming ha ha.

Please keep us posted, keep your head up too!

Jared Paiva.
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Old 06-19-2011, 05:54 PM   #3
Gravel Brown
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Re: My SLAP Journey...

Thanks Jared. Yes it is a frustrating journey. If i had of just had a MRI within the first few months and then surgery i would have been half way back to 100% by now. It seems to be a frustration that everyone has to go through before finally getting an accurate answer, all part of the process i guess.

The strangest part for me has definately been that exercise actually made it feel better. If i went a few days off the weights it would feel worse. The more i lifted the better it felt. I find this strange considering the extent of the tear.

I have stopped lifting all together now and it definately feels weaker and seems to be moving around and clicking etc a lot more.

I'll keep posting through the process mate, no doubt this might help you when you get yours done.

2 days to go for me..
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Old 06-19-2011, 06:33 PM   #4
Michael Dries
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Re: My SLAP Journey...

Keep up informed.

I have anterior tear in my right shoulders and posterior, anterior and inferior tears in my left shoulder with a Hill-Sachs Lesion on the humeral head.

I just got done with PT for my right shoulder for 6 weeks and I've gotten some relief but I don't believe it will ever be perfect. My surgeon is very good (he's the team physician of the yankees) and said "you want to bench 300lbs, either change your life to fit your shoulder or change your shoulder to fit your life."

I'm simply waiting for the timing to be right for the operation.

Good luck, i'd be curious about the rehab time for your surgery.
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Old 06-20-2011, 06:10 AM   #5
Gravel Brown
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Re: My SLAP Journey...

"You want to bench 300lbs, either change your life to fit your shoulder or change your shoulder to fit your life."

That quote is spot on. If you want to remain as active as you were pre-injury then there is no other option. I actually asked my surgeon the same thing, ie is there any option apart from surgery? It is his opinion that if i did not get the surgery my shoulder would deteriorate even further and begin to dislocate on a regular basis...

Ive pretty much written off the next 12 months to rehab and accepted the fact that much of the strength ive gained over the past 10 years will be gone, but i dont have any other choice.

We just need to accept it as a challenge and attack the rehab head on with a view to being 100% in 12 months or so.

So Michael are you getting surgery on both shoulders? If so i take it they do it one at a time, ie let one heal before doing the other?
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Old 06-20-2011, 12:23 PM   #6
Michael Dries
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Re: My SLAP Journey...

The strength you've gathered over the last 10 years won't really disappear totally. When your joint is healthy again, getting back to your previous level won't take nearly as long.

I'm going to have the right shoulder, the single tear, easier surgery first. Probably this summer. I'll probably make a thread about it here. I'll rehab it as necessary then begin training again. At some point the loads will get to the point where my other shoulder will begin to bother me and I believe that'll be when I do that one. I'm lucky to be married to have a wife to take care of me for the first few weeks post op but to have both of them done would put me out of work far too long.

Just to clarify things, my left shoulder I used to over throw when I was a kid playing baseball, so I'm sure I tore it when I was younger. Then I dislocated it in high school causing more problems. Fast forward 10 years and my right shoulder just hurt like hell one morning and felt out of place. I don't remember doing anything weird the day before nor any true acute injury. I just woke up one morning and it felt out of place.

Shoulders suck.
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Old 06-20-2011, 05:04 PM   #7
Gravel Brown
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Re: My SLAP Journey...

Yeah they do suck, lots can go wrong if you dont look after them.

Yours sounds like its going to a fairly long road with 2 ops but it depends on the extent of the surgery i guess, some heal very quickly. Im having 4 anchors put in so my recovery will be fairly long. Your right shoulder injury is a strange one, perhaps it was deteriorating over a long period of time and then something very simple just sparked it.. who knows. Have they explained the surgery to you yet, ie anchors, cut or scope etc?

Ive come to the realisation that at 36yrs old i cant do what i could at 25yrs old in the gym, my mind tells me i can, but the body is becoming less tolerant. When i get back i'll need to work much smarter.

I think that overhead movements may be out of the equation in the future. As long as i can do most things, bench, pullups, deadlifts etc i'll be happy as these are my favourite exercises that i like to evolve my WODs around.

Im not overly fussed if i cant snatch, clean and jerk etc.

This time tmrw ill be fast asleep getting it done.. 19 hours to go.. nervous times.

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Old 06-20-2011, 06:21 PM   #8
Michael Dries
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Re: My SLAP Journey...

Best of luck, I'm sure it will go well.

I haven't been briefed on the op yet. I'm seeing the doc early july. He's hard to schedule. I'm 99% sure it will be arthroscopic as it's the doc's specialty.

I think the right shoulder just never had the strength in it it needed. I used to lift weights when I was 19-22 then took off from all activity except being a desk jockey from 22-29. I gained like 60lbs and started crossfit. I was very weak and I think I jumped into too much volume and too many sketchy movements (muscle ups, kips, etc) without the appropriate shoulder strength and stability. My shoulders have ALWAYS been "loose." I think I just picked the wrong parents in that department, and didn't know enough to do the appropriate strengthening of the shoulders that I needed.

Once you get it fixed make sure you check out kelly starret's mobilitywod.com . He's actually got a nice mwod for being stuck in a sling.
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Old 06-20-2011, 10:53 PM   #9
Gravel Brown
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Re: My SLAP Journey...

Excellent mate thanks, ill be sure to checkout that WOD, it'll be good to still be able to do some form of fitness while im stuck in a sling.

My doc gave me the option of scope or cut but he was confident that the success rate would be higher if he cut. I think this probably depends on the doc and what he feels confident with.

I've just finished setting up the spare bedroom, extra pillows, tv, dvd player, lots of magazines, so i think im all set.

I'll report back the day after the surgery and let you know how it went. I'll be typing with my left hand so youll have to excuse any typing errors!!

14 hours to go..

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Old 06-21-2011, 06:23 AM   #10
Gravel Brown
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Re: My SLAP Journey...

Just checked out the Kelly Starret Mobility WOD's... gonna be very useful post op so thanks for that Michael.

8 hours and counting...

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