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slick's shoulder surgery blog

PT (or lack thereof), Round 1

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by , September 21st, 2012 at 12:36 PM (477 Views)
I saw the Ortho doc a few days after my shoulder dislocation in June 2008, and he pretty much just told me to keep the sling on for a few weeks, referred me to physical therapy, and gave me clearance to go back to work. I actually don’t remember much from that appointment at all. Now that I look back on it, things should have went down very differently. I should have been asking LOTS of questions….but back then swimming was only a peripheral part of my life, so I didn’t really think of it.

So, I went back to work a few days later. I work a desk job so nothing traumatic or anything. I do remember that it was hard for me to keep my arm in that damned sling….it actually hurt to NOT move it! It felt much better to change positions and move it around occasionally. If anything my shoulder felt less pain if I kept my arm down at my side. After a week and a half I pretty much abandoned the thing.

Sleeping was difficult. I’m a side sleeper, so not being able to sleep on my left side made for some restless nights. To this day I still can’t fully sleep on my left side, and I will feel some pain if I sleep on that side for too long.

My first visit to the physical therapist was short and sweet. It was about two weeks after I saw the Ortho doc, and I was feeling OK. He tested my range of motion which was just fine. Of course my shoulder was still very weak, and I still had some numbness, the “cold” feeling, and occasional pins and needles shooting down my arm, but nothing was overly painful. Overall, he seemed quite impressed with my strength and flexibility for having dislocated only a couple weeks prior. “You’re young, you’ll be fine,” he said. He gave me some tubing and a series of exercises to do - all of which were familiar to me since we did them all the time back in my age group days. I asked him when I could swim again, and he said to give it at least six weeks and to ease back in slowly. And that’s the last I saw of him. Again, looking back, I should have been way more involved in my treatment and rehab process. But at the time I had no idea what this injury would mean to me in the future.

Six weeks later I was back at my local pool. I had just watched Phelps go 8 for 8 in Bejing and I was rearing to get back ASAP! I had only been swimming 2000-2500 yard workouts once per week before my injury, so I just started back with a bit less yardage. I don’t remember any overwhelming pain – just a lot of soreness/weakness and my stroke feeling weird because of it. It was a little painful to breathe on my usual right side, so I just switched to the left. Everything seemed OK otherwise, until I attempted some backstroke and first experienced “the click”. Whoa! Never felt that before. My shoulder clicked with every stroke (right before the hand entry), so I just avoided backstroke from then on. I wasn’t really painful per se, but I knew it probably wasn’t good.

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Updated September 21st, 2012 at 12:54 PM by swimslick