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Shoulder surgery

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  • Shoulder surgery

    I had never looked at this forum until I was searching for others in my position. On Mother's Day I came off my 4 YO, dislocated my shoulder and fractured both my humerus and glenoid. I am 45 years old and in 35 years of riding, I've luckily had few major injuries. Now I'm faced with the prospect of 3-6 months of rehab post surgery. To add to my personal pity party I'm a CEMT, have an infant, it's my left arm and you guessed it, I'm a lefty. Not to mention of course the end of my summer riding and show plans. Anyone have any personal experience with this type of injury, how long were you sidelined?

  • #2
    Ouch! I feel your pain (not exactly, but close enough I think ). I have two similar, yet different stories for you but I figure they may help.

    In 2001, I fell landing on my left shoulder breaking the humerus just below the ball. It had > 70% displacement but with careful monitoring I avoided surgery (it basically lined back up on it's own). I started PT around 5 weeks after initial injury and I'm not gonna lie- it was rough!! I am a righty, so that was a bit of a help but still doing things was very tough for awhile b/c I couldn't move that arm at all for fear of the bones not staying together. I think I started riding again ~12 weeks after the injury, but it was mostly lunge lessons at that point. I think I had about 4 lunge lessons before I tried riding w/ me controlling the reins. My left arm was still so weak that it was tough getting on and off (let's not even talk about tacking up or adjusting said tack!). I'd say it was a good 6 months after that I felt more normal, but I wasn't riding as often as I am now. I still notice some slight weakness in that side of my torso, which I need to work on and strengthen those back muscles.

    I think it might not have been as bad if I could have started therapy sooner. I guess that is where surgery might have been a benefit.

    Last Feb, I got knocked over and obliterated my right elbow (dislocated and fractured in multiple places- very ugly!). I was not allowed to weight bear until 8 weeks, so riding was not even in the cards until after that. I'd say I was doing pretty well about 5 months post-op. Aside from it being my dominant hand, it wasn't nearly as bad as the shoulder. I think it was helped by the fact that it was my dominant hand, so rehab wasn't as much of a conscious effort so to speak.

    Hope that helps some. The keys I think are not having any complications from surgery, getting rehab started quickly, and being very diligent about your rehab! My DH has had a couple of shoulder surgeries, and wasn't as good with his rehab after the first one and totally regrets it. Shoulders hurt, and rehab for shoulders hurts, but it really made a difference in how mine is today.


    • #3
      I'm sorry. I posted on this forum a few weeks back about my shoulder injury--sounds similar to yours, except I'm a righty and it was my left shoulder. I shattered the humeral head into 4 pieces, requiring rather delicate, radical surgery to pin/screw together.

      I must say, sadly, that this has been the worst injury I've ever had (two ACLs, back, 3 foot surgeries). The recovery has been painful and tedious. I am in my 5th week of PT, following 8 weeks of immobility after surgery-no movement, no weight bearing. PT is critical and painful, shoulders are the shits to rehab apparently.

      Good luck, PM if you want to pity party with me At 42, just getting rolling with my newish jumper, this was not my summer plan, either. I won't ride again, guessing here, until maybe July. The lack of ROM and the pain are still holdin me back. And, I'm still sleeping on the couch!!
      Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


      • Original Poster

        Thanks for the well wishes. Surgery tomorrow then on to working at getting better!!


        • #5
          I think shoulder injury recovery is the most painful, most tedious, and most depressing of all the injuries that I have suffered. They include broken back, ACL replacement, broken foot, and a number of other minor bangs. My shoulder wasn't bone related--or at least not since I was 14; the most recent was complete rupture of all the muscles that comprise the rotator cuff.

          When Calvincrowe talks about a long period of immobility, she means it. I started doing things that I shouldn't too soon after surgery, and the surgery has basically been a failure. You don't want that. Stay far away from barn work.

          Remember that the shoulder has more different movements than any other joint in your body. In order to get full range of motion, you have to get function in ALL the different ways the shoulder moves. That's a very long, slow stint with PT.

          Shoulders are godawful PITAs and then some.
          "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
          Thread killer Extraordinaire


          • #6
            Bad news - follow immobility and PT instructions to the letter.

            Good news - remarkable recovery potential, everything should work well.

            Errata - you'll always know the weather coming in.


            • #7
              Hope surgery goes well! Keep us posted.

              Two things I remember were quite handy- bras that closed in the front and button down shirts. You will be needing someone to help dress you for some time (at least I did w/ my shoulder).

              You will get pretty good at typing with one hand, even if it's your non-dominant one .

              When you start PT, don't be afraid to take some pain killers, even if you were off them generally. I remember calling my BF who's a PT basically crying after my first few sessions. She said "I bet you feel like you were run over by a bus. That's to be expected." Shoulders can be pushed hard in therapy (provided bones, etc have healed), so whatever you can tolerate go for it. Do those exercises at home. Heat before and ice after. It can be done, but It.Will.Hurt.


              • #8
                I had a fall that damaged my rotator cuff, my doctor told me that if it wasn't better in two months then I would need surgery to fix it. At two months I still had a constant throbbing pain and little mobility. But it was very slowly getting better and now after seven months I have most of my strength and mobility back. I used a thermal(moist) heating pad every day. I also got off my horse by having him stand next to the mounting block and I would swing off onto it. The jarring movement of jumping off to dismount was too painful.


                • #9
                  Me too! I had a shoulder that subluxed for years before it finally dislocated and would not pop back on its own. My surgeon reminded me that the shoulder is a ball and saucer joint, unlike the hip. I had surgery where they put 3 little titanium anchors in and sewed the thing together. He said it won't come out again. He also said it is 6 months before your shoulder is back to "normal" and he was right. Since that time I have had a suprachondylar fracture of the same arm (black ice) and permanently disconnected a portion of the brachial plexus (nerves) when my horse fell down and I fell off. So my right arm is a bit of a mess.

                  I had to admit the therapy after the original surgery was long and somewhat painful. I had to do the button down shirts, but couldn't even do a bra for a while because of the pressure the strap put on the incision. He told me not to drive until he said so, and I didn't, but it sure was a PITA to be looking for rides all the time.

                  The dislocation happened when I was just getting back into horses and I was volunteering at a therapy barn. At least I could lead a horse from the "wrong" side, which helped retain my sanity.

                  Good luck, and I hope you have a smooth recovery. It may not be easy, but as I was reminded from time to time, this too shall pass.
                  Providence sometimes takes care of idiots. Agnes Morley Cleaveland in No Life for a Lady.


                  • #10
                    Just checking in to see how surgery went and how things are going.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by pharmgirl View Post
                      Just checking in to see how surgery went and how things are going.
                      Me too, wondering, because I will have a shoulder operation next fall.
                      A rotator cuff tear repair and cut out some spurs, a big one, that is cutting into one of the bicep attachments.

                      Tell us the good the bad and the ugly.

                      Remember, this too shall pass.


                      • #12
                        A friend of mine fell off a ladder and had almost the identical injuries (except a lot more elsewhere!). His recovery took about 3 months at home first in a wheelchair and then a walker, etc. He was back at work but probably took another 2-3 months to be recovered enough to ride a horse at a higher level (had he been so inclined).

                        I'm a veteran of 3 rotator cuff surgeries (so far! Including one May 3) and I can tell you it will be about 4-6 months depending on the severity of the tears or if it was detached like mine were/are. It is a long slow process. Much longer than bone breaks so if your rotator cuffs are OK you just need to let the bones heal (about 8 weeks usually) and gradually build the muscles up (another month or two). Bones like to heal, tendons don't.
                        Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

                        Proud Closet Canterer! Member Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.


                        • Original Poster

                          Hi all! Thanks for looking for updates on me. Surgery was last Tuesday and went well. I must say that a nerve block is God's gift to pain relief! They sent me home on Wed with that pump and having it in addition to oral meds really helped. The fracture to the glenoid was large enough that they were't able to do an arthroscopic repair so I have a couple of screws. The surgeon told me that when they unwrapped me prior to surgery my shoulder wouldn't stay in joint, so I guess I'm glad I proceeded as they directed. I secretaried a show this weekend and as you can imagine got lots of questions and stories of others with shoulder woes. Now I'm just looking ahead to getting better. Thanks much for your input on your own experiences, even though reading then BEFORE surgery might not have been smart on my part!


                          • #14
                            Thanks for the update. Sounds like things are going well. Hope PT is the same way!

                            BTW, when do they start you with that?


                            • #15
                              I'm so glad the surgery went well. I am plateaued on my PT right now--my shoulder is so frozen (can't do the "heil hitler" arm movement) in one direction, it sucks. I have pretty much constant discomfort still, but it is ignorable.

                              My surgeon has given me one more month of PT to regain more ROM before injecting the shoulder to break it up. I really don't want that. I hear it hurts like the dickens.

                              I just want to get back on my horse! I'm going to ask if I can walk/trot now--it is 14 weeks after surgery, so I assume the bone is healed by now!
                              Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                              • Original Poster

                                I have my first post op on Friday. I believe the surgeon told me nothing as far as PT goes for 6 weeks after the surgery.


                                • #17
                                  Twotone- that sounds about right. I was 8 weeks immobilized, then PT for ROM with no strength building at all. Shoulders are tricky and complicated to rehab. Keep us posted! When you start PT, you'll quickly see the same people in there with you. At my practice, they call it the "shoulder corner"--where we all sit either heat-packed to begin PT or ice-packed to end PT, sharing stories of how and why we got there, and how long we expect to be there. One 16 year old is on a 7 month PT plan!!
                                  Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                                  • Original Poster

                                    7 months, eeeessshhhh!!!!


                                    • Original Poster

                                      I start PT on June 2nd!!! First time out of the sling was on Sat, talk about a limp noodle. Amazing how your strong body becomes so lame after just a little bit of time.


                                      • #20
                                        Glad to hear they're starting your PT soon!! It will make a big difference in the long run, believe me . I suggest that you make sure some meds are on board before going (either advil or something a bit stronger). It can be pretty rough, especially in the beginning. Will you have your stitches out by then? I think they have to be more kind when stitches are still involved.