View Full Version : bursitis

October 26th, 2002, 06:33 PM
Hi swimming friends: I have been swimming masters for about 12 years now, daily swims, never had a problem before but last May developed bursitis in the right shoulder. I laid out a month, then slowly started up again and made it through the summer until end of August when intense pain again. Hve been to the orthopedist who says bursitis - do what you want, not a surgical problem, am on vioxx 50 mg. and darviset . since Sept. 1 have only been swimming with my left arm but still have intense pain when swimming or when not swimming. Am really frustrated and don't know what to do. Anyone out there got any ideas?
I've already tried cortisone shots, cortisone pack, vioxx, icing, heating, acupuncture, physical therapy, etc. What else can I do?
thanks for the advice.

Bert Petersen
October 26th, 2002, 07:29 PM
Hi Peggy:
As a butterfly swimmer and a former coach, I have a lot of experience with this subject. Experience both personally and through the kids I coached. I'm not a medical person but I have had really good success eliminating various shoulder problems with stretching. My favorite,and the one which seems to do the most good, is what I call "dislocates". Obviously, you do not really dislocate anything. It's a stretch, using a big towel. You take the towel at the ends, one end in each hand, and with arms straight go over your head. Make sure you start with a lot of clearance room, both on the towel and around yourself. (Watch out for lamps !) As you slowly become more flexible, you can bring your hands in on the towel. It should be progressively harder to get the towel over, but should NEVER produce pain. A couple dozen of these every night will help those shoulders loosen up.
Hope this helps-I do them regularly. Bert

October 26th, 2002, 08:24 PM
Peggy: I had a terrible case of bursitis about 30 years ago and was cured by one shot of cortisone with the longest needle I have ever seen. I think the secret was that the Doctor knew just how to aim the needle, or else was very lucky. I am now having pain in the other shoulder and will get another shot if the pain persists. Maybe you should try another shot or another Doct:)

jim thornton
October 26th, 2002, 11:40 PM
Shoulder problems are very tricky. Who diagnosed bursitis? You may want to get a second opinion from a sports medicine specialist--best bet: find a local university swim team and ask the coach who he or she recommends his or her swimmers see when shoulder problems develop.

Also, look through the archives on this forum. There are some great discussions here on this topic. Emmett Hines, I'm pretty sure, is a great believer in the 7-minute rotator cuff solution--a book available through Amazon. This and proper stroke mechanics. Perhaps he will weigh in on this topic again here.

Definitely see another doctor. With apologies to Bert, I've been told that stretching is actually counterproductive for some shoulder problems (perhaps a majority of swimmers shoulder cases) because it is too much laxity, not tightness, that is causing the joint to wobble inside its point of attachment. The solution is to tighten the rotator cuffs that are not trained as much by swimming, and is so doing, rectify a muscle imbalance. Stretching in such cases just adds more wobble! The fact that you are a woman makes me further think that lack of flexibility is probably NOT your problem. Women tend, if anything, to be overly loose in their joints (though this may change past the child bearing years.)

Again, I am definitely not a doctor. But from my own experience and research for magazine articles I've written on shoulder injuries, I am skeptical of the bursitis diagnosis and suspect you may have an unstable joint instead (the wobbliness itself is causing soft tissues to rub against each other, and this chafing creates the inflammation. You may, in this sense, have bursitis, but it is being caused by an underlying problem, i.e., laxity and wobbliness in the ligamentous capsule that should be stabilizing the joint.)

One other note: don't use NSAIDS or VIOXX chronically for this kind of thing. It may mask the pain but it's not necessarily curing the problem and may allow it to get worse. Plus there are side effects, from stomach upset to kidney problems (risk here goes up with dehydration, which is easy to do after a hard practice in a hot pool.) And even though I own a modest amount of Merck stock, I must say that VIOXX is ridiculously expensive and no more effective than generic ibuprofen! Or aspirin, for that matter.

Please see a sports med doctor! Not just any shoulder person, but someone with special training and experience in swimming-related shoulder problems. Ignore all my other advice above, which is no more likely to be true than any other armchair speculator's; but definitely see a sports med doc!