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Shoulder Surgery Recovery
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By Berkeley
From Boulder, CO
Sep 22, 2011
Font!

I'm hoping that some of you who have had shoulder surgery can tell me how your shoulders felt when you returned to climbing. I had my biceps tendon re-attached and had a sub-acromial decompression about 2 months ago. I've started easing back into sports in the past few weeks.

My shoulder was really sore after I went mountain biking a few weeks ago, and it has been a little bit sore since I climbed (I took it very easy in the gym). My physical therapist says it's normal to be sore when returning to activity, but it's kind of freaking me out. The pain isn't excruciating, but it feels similar to how it did before surgery. I'm curious to see if other people were sore, too. Thanks!


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By Chris Horton
From Tucson AZ
Sep 22, 2011
Awesomeness!

I had a pretty different surgery (rotator cuff reattachment and SLAP tear repair) so it took a few more months before I could even think about climbing. I think it is pretty normal to be freaked out.

My surgery was 20 months ago and its rare that I go a couple of weeks without saying "oh shit, I just wrecked my shoulder again". I have a couple of friends who climb who have had similar surgeries who have the same fears.

I have just accepted the fact that I will always have to ice it after heavy activity (bouldering) and there will always be some soreness, but at least everything in there is attached and working like it should be.

Best advice: listen to your doctor and/or PT, ice after heavy use and rest when it tells you to. And whatever they have you doing for rehab, you may have to do it for years- off and on to keep the muscles surrounding the area strong.


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By Ben Sachs
Sep 22, 2011

Sounds about right to me. I'm almost 6 months out from a cuff repair and a subacromial depression. I went "climbing" on a 4th class slab about 2.5 months out and thought I had done something horrible based on how sore it got. In the end, it was totally fine. My experiance is that it will be slightly sore/inflamed almost every time you go climbing. However, the amount it can take before being too bad will slowly increase. For instance, at about 3-4 months I still got slightly sore from 1 day of 5.5ish climbing. Now, I can do 2.5 days on at 5.9 or so. After that, I still need a few days rest. The threshold of how much it can handle has gone up slowly but steadily ever since I started back. Don't expect "normal" for at least a year, maybe 2, and TAKE IT FREAKING SLOW.


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By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From Los Alamos, NM
Sep 22, 2011
Climbing at the Belvedere crag near Nago with a great view of the northern end of Lake Garda and the town of Torbole sul Garda below. June 2013.

I'll add another "that sounds normal" comment. Ten months ago I had my subscapularis repaired and a biceps tenodesis, like you. For up to six months out, aggressive usage resulted in it feeling very sore and during that time I had a couple of "oh shit" moments thinking I'd hosed it up again. 10 months out, now, though, and I don't think about it and it doesn't bother me (or get sore) after a full weekend of climbing. It feels 110 percent better than it did pre-op and now I'm certain my old, "good" shoulder needs to be fixed too because it feels significantly weaker than my operated-on shoulder.

Keep up with your PT and strength training. Do it religiously. I know it's hard to keep up once it starts feeling better (I'm guilty of that for sure) but it pay off in the long run.


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By Rick Blair
From Denver
Sep 22, 2011
This is a novel auto blocking belay device.  I think it works quite well, depending on rope thickness and sheath quality, it belays very smooth.  Great to lower with.  You gotta love over engineering.  $3 at a gear swap!

I had a bi-direction dislocation and cartelidge damage. After about 6 month I could do everything I wanted to but was always aware for one reason or another that I had a wounded shoulder. It was a full year before it was really back to "normal". As far as physical therapy goes, listen to your body first, physical therapist second. Trust your intuition if it does not agree with what you are hearing from professionals. Don't over do PT either, take a week off here and there.


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By Berkeley
From Boulder, CO
Sep 22, 2011
Font!

Thanks for all of your responses! I feel much better about it now.


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By Amy Stengel
From Boulder, CO
Sep 23, 2011

Berkeley - I'm glad to hear you are mountain biking and climbing already at only 2.5 months. I remember your posts from earlier in the summer. I hear such horror stories about shoulder surgery and I understand that it is a difficult recovery but I also tend to temper that with the general atheletic fitness of the person. I probably returned to sports too soon after both my hip scopes and as a result had to work through a fair amount of pain for about 8 months but as someone else said at least everything was in tack and functioning how it should.

With any arthroscopic surgery, after the initial healing period where you need to protect the tissues and repair or whatever was done there is the much longer period of just ups and downs and soreness as the joint gets used to increased activity. It can cause alot of fretting and worrying but usually things end up ok. That has been my experience anyhow.

I'm scheduled for a subachromial decompression, possible labral repair and possible biceps tenodesis with Dr. Millet in Vail on 10/6. I don't think I'll be skiing this winter but by next spring I hope I'll be getting back to things like mtn biking.


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By mountainhick
From Black Hawk, CO
Sep 28, 2011

Had mine done last November. Didn't climb until around May-June, so more like 6 months out..

Be careful!! If you have the go ahead to climb at only 2 months post op, all I can say is WOW! I didn't want to risk more injury so waited until I could do a couple pull ups before considering climbing.

Yes, rehab hurts. Mine still gets flared up, but it has gotten pretty darn strong again. I am delighted with the results despite what I think is a bit of ongoing tendonitis after the rehab.


BTW, Good luck AMY!!! Millet's the man!


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By Amy Stengel
From Boulder, CO
Mar 27, 2012

I'm re-activating this thread because it was a helpful one.

I'm currently 6 months post-op from a biceps tenodesis, SAD, bursectomy and debridement of a small 25% thickness RC tear and fraying of the labrum done by Dr. Millet at Steadman in Vail. I had an excellent,straightforward recovery and was back to backcountry skiing at about 9 weeks post-op. I had soreness and pain for about the first 10 weeks but it wasn't ever unmanageable pain and with the exception of the first week it didn't seem as bad as pre-op. I was actually pleasantly surprised by how well the recovery seemed to go after all the horror stories I hear about shoulder surgery. I think not having a true "repair" makes a difference of course as the tenodesis isn't the same as a cuff repair or even labral repair. I took it very easy because my other non-operated shoulder soon became more of a problem than my operated one and so I couldn't really get back to any shoulder-intensive sports like swimming, yoga or climbing. (Disclaimer - not much of a climber any more as I've focused on other mountain sports).

Anyways, fast forward to March. I admit to having gotten a bit lazy in the last 2 months with my strengthening exercises because I was focused more on trying to get that last bit of ROM back. I stretched daily to finally get all my ROM back by mid-Feb but did get a bit slack with the theraband exercises. I also had my hip resurfaced in late January so I was totally down for the count for a couple of weeks. All of a sudden, about two weeks ago, my shoulder started bothering me again and feels suspiciously like it did pre-op. I don't have much pain in the front of the shoulder as I do think the biceps is ok but I'm concerned about the labrum having torn again since my pain is mostly in back where the glenohumeral joint is located. It isn't debilitating pain but it feels like joint pain which worries me. I know recovery is never straightforward and there are ups and downs here and there but I can honestly say I've had almost zero pain in my left shoulder since about mid-December. So now that I seem to have developed soreness out of nowwhere it worries me. Could I have re-torn my labrum just from everyday living if the shoulder wasn't quite strong enough yet? That seems odd because I have been SO careful not to overdo it but I do lift a 22lb baby around. I've been doing my theraband exercises, resting it and icing at night and it feels a little better but I'm definitely concerned. Millet did a fantastic job repairing my shoulder so if anything did happen it is entirely my own fault!

I was getting ready to sign up for the other shoulder at some point this summer since I had such a great result with the first one...I guess I shouldn't have had such greedy thoughts!

Amy


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