I am a 56-year old competitive pool and open water swimmer, and would appreciate advice regarding a Type III A/C shoulder separation I recently sustained. This is a fairly significant injury in which the collar bone separated from the shoulder bone, tearing all the connecting ligaments. I have met with two well-regarded orthopedic surgeons, both of whom work extensively with athletes (but not swimmers); they have given me conflicting advice. One says that because of the force I exert as a swimmer, surgery is the best option. The other doctor says surgery would not give me any better functional ability than just letting the scar tissue grow and bind the bones. They both agree that surgery can be done at any time with the same results; in other words, I can sit out for several months to see how my shoulder heals on its own, with appropriate therapy exercises, before deciding whether to try surgery. Because it is the prudent thing to do, that is the immediate course of action I will take.
In preparing for the possibility of surgery down the road, however, I am researching whether surgery would be helpful to a pool swimmer, especially one who competes primarily in sprint events. It appears that the only athletes with Type III separations where surgery is almost universally recommended are the hard-throwing ones -- baseball pitchers and football quarterbacks. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find anything dealing with swimmers. Iím hoping to get some anecdotal experience from any swimmer who has gone through this. If you have, or know of anyone who has, I would greatly appreciate hearing of your experience and whether surgery helped you get back in the pool with the same speed you had before your accident. Many thanks for any responses I get.