Greetings from the Albion Grill at Alta Ski Area. I’m golf blogging today from a ski resort, waiting for the lifts to open. Had an hour to kill so thought it would be a good time to do a shoulder update.
Yesterday, Valentine’s Day, was the one year anniversary of my surgery for torn rotator cuff, torn bicep tendon, torn labrum and bone spurs in my right shoulder. My recovery has gone slower than I’d hoped, and it has now been about one month that I’ve not had nagging pain or soreness. I was in pain for a solid year and a half including pre-surgery. During my rehab I developed “frozen shoulder” which was a total pain in the ass. Scar tissue and inflammation built up, restricting my range of motion and increasing the pain. It took about six months to shake that.
It has now been a year and three months since I last played golf. My last round was at TPC Danzante Bay, and I have the fond memory of making birdie on the stunning par-3 17th hole. Picture below for fun.
My shoulder is about 85% I would say at this point. I don’t get sore when I do regular activities, or even do heavy skiing. I can now do some shoulder exercises in the gym and it doesn’t get mad at me. I’m not pushing it though. I’ve tested out a golf swing without a club, just to see how the shoulder reacts. The backswing is probably 90% but the followthrough is probably only 75%. That’s the killer. I don’t think I’ll really be able to generate much swing speed yet because of lack of flexibility and fear of pain at the end of the swing. No high finishes for me. I may have to develop a 100% punch shot game if I’m going to play any serious golf. I’m sure the shoulder still has more healing to go as some say the frozen shoulder can take years to completely go away.
For now I’m in ski mode here in northern Utah. Spring is around the corner and it is going to be interesting to see not only how my shoulder situation unfolds, but how my mental situation unfolds as well. I haven’t missed playing like I thought I would. I’ve used my time to pursue other interests, like building and flying drones, skiing, hiking and so forth. I wonder how I had the time, the money, and the patience to golf in the first place. Perhaps that part of my psyche will come around when the snow melts and I see green grass and hear some birds chirping.
What I miss the most about not playing golf isn’t the game itself or the golf courses or anything like that. I miss competing. I miss my buddies…. I miss taking money from my buddies. That’s probably what I miss most… LOL.
As of tomorrow, I’ll be 10 months removed from shoulder surgery for a torn bicep tendon, torn rotator cuff, torn labrum and bone spur removal. I was in a sling for about six weeks following the surgery, and did rehab for about six months. During the course of my recovery I developed “frozen shoulder,” a condition where scar tissue and inflammation builds up causing extreme soreness and stiffness. That condition can take up to several years to subside.
The majority of the injury happened in the summer of 2018, but there seemed to be damage occurring in the previous year or two before that. I’d experienced shoulder pain dating back to early 2018 and through until November 2019. Having been in pain for so long, I’m happy to report that as of about 2-3 weeks ago I haven’t been noticing any. It can still be stiff if I push it working out or doing activities which stretch the limits of my arm’s mobility.
It has now been 13 months since I played golf. If I try the motions of a golf swing I can tell that I don’t have much in terms of release. Release meaning the extension of the golf swing following impact. Once my arms get about 1/3 of the way to the finish I can feel that frozen shoulder tightness. That’s not great, but a few months ago I could not have gotten to that position.
I also had a little boo boo this summer while hiking. I fell and dislocated my other shoulder. That one has a torn labrum and an indented ball, the ball part of the ball and socket. That means it will likely dislocate easier. I could have chosen surgery to fix the damage, but I’ve opted to try and build up strength first and see how that goes.
Winter is here in northern Utah, so I wouldn’t be playing any golf this time of year anyway unless I traveled south. So not a huge loss in terms of golf at this point. I’m hoping that after the 5-6 month winter my flexibility will have improved enough to start trying to make some golf swings. I doubt I could hit a ball farther than 40-50 yards at this point.
That’s all fine. I’m in full on SKI mode now. Bring on the powder. I’m working on a new site for skiing (and other mountain sports). It’s under construction, but the site “Hike.Ski” is somewhat up and running. It’s an interesting domain. Not a “dot com.” Just type in Hike.Ski into the browser URL. The full site is https://hike.ski.
I’ll report again when there are new developments on the shoulder. Thanks for your patronage.
It has now been 15 weeks since I had surgery for a torn rotator cuff, torn labrum, torn bicep tendon, and bone spurs in the right shoulder. It has been a frustrating several weeks as I have developed what is known as “frozen shoulder.” This condition is where there is too much scar tissue and inflammation in the shoulder socket, causing it to literally lock up. I had not been able to move it beyond a certain amount for close to two months. I got a steroid injection about three weeks ago, and finally over the last week and a half I’m seeing some notable progress.
At rehab last week the therapist got my arm lifted (front) to about 160 degrees, a new record over 150 degrees. It had been at 150 for weeks. Last week she was able to get the arm to about 160 degrees in a more side motion, away from the body. That was a record as well. Today, with the therapist’s help, I got the first measurement to 170 degrees and the 2nd to 180. Major improvements.
I’ve also noticed that my pain level over the last week or so has subsided quite a bit. I’m going large portions of the day with no pain. I’m also sleeping in my own bed, and even sleeping on my left side with no pain or waking up due to pain in the night. Major win. I can lay on my bad shoulder side for awhile, but moving after that is painful and stiff.
I can finally see some decent progress, 20 degrees or so, in the last couple of weeks. Major breakthrough. I’m getting more exercises and stretches which I’m religiously doing at home daily.
Not Over Yet
I still have a long way to go. I can’t reach behind my back with my right arm, at all. Not even an inch or two. I can’t get anywhere near a throwing position, nor can I even reach across my body, say to dry my left shoulder off with a towel. It takes effort to shave right handed, or wash my hair right handed, but I can do it now.
Fortunately I’ve been able to keep my sanity, somewhat. I’ve taken up backcountry skiing and I’ve gone up into the wonderful mountains here in northern Utah for “skin” sessions. A few days ago I skinned up to over 10,000 feet. Great exercise, and a physical activity I can do, even with a limited right arm.
Today I grabbed a golf club out of curiosity. I could take it back gingerly to about 1/3 of a full swing before I felt pain. Worse than that was the followthrough. Once my right hand crossed about the center of my body it was big time no-go zone. So I bet the farthest I could hit a golf ball at this point, with any club, would be maybe 20-30 yards. And I’d have one swing in me before I’d have to bail.
Remember the movie 9.5 Weeks, with Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke? What a film. That one rocked my world as a young, red blooded heterosexual male in 1986. If only my 9.5 week report on my shoulder surgery was as tremendous as that, or even one tenth of one percent.
I just finished up my 14th session of physical therapy today, for my repaired torn rotator cuff, torn labrum, and torn bicep tendon. 9.5 weeks after the surgery I find myself in a frustrating and concerned position. For the last week or so I’ve been experiencing more than usual pain in my shoulder, and in areas I’ve not had any pain before. I’ve feared I did some damage to the repairs by lifting something heavy out of the trunk of the car. The pain has been keeping me from sleeping.
My rehab therapist checked it out today and does not think that I’ve damaged anything or re-injured myself. We theorized that my more active use of the arm/shoulder (computer, driving, daily activities), are causing the added pain and soreness. That’s good. The bad news is I have pretty severe scar tissue built up in the area of the bicep tenodesis (where the doc cuts off part of the bicep tendon and screws it into the bone). It is enflamed and painful 24/7 and always extremely tight. So tight it’s tighter than Stewart Copeland’s (The Police) snare head. This issue is causing my recovery to go very slowly. This condition is also known as “frozen shoulder.”
In therapy sessions the therapist stretches out and manipulates the arm and shoulder to try and increase the mobility, increase blood flow, and break up the scar tissue. It takes some very harsh and painful movements to get the scar tissue to break up. When it does, I sometimes feel a pop.
During today’s session the therapist started a new treatment. He used some lubrication and a bamboo “tool” to rub the areas where the scar tissue is built up and the tendons are tight. When rubbing the tissues with this device you could literally feel the bumps in the tissue. It practically felt like he was moving the tool over a saw blade. With normal tissue the movement would be smooth.
I do have improved mobility in the right arm which I’m thrilled about. A little mobility seems terrific when you had none for 6+ weeks. I can “almost” brush my teeth with my right hand, almost pull my pants up, and almost wipe my own ass right handed without pain. That’s quite an improvement. I still have very limited range of motion in almost every direction. A couple of days ago I picked up a golf club. First time I’ve had a golf club in my hands in months. In a gentle swing test I got the shaft back about 12 inches from grounded and that was all she wrote. Brutal.
At this point I’m not figuring on playing any golf in 2019, but I’m diligently doing my rehab treatments and exercises in the hopes I can break through as soon as possible.
Today was a big event. No, not the first round of the 2019 Masters Tournament. The big event was the eight week anniversary of my shoulder surgery for torn rotator cuff, torn bicep tendon, and torn labrum. My last report at the six week mark was not good. My physical therapy was not going as fast as I’d hoped because I have what is called “frozen shoulder.”
This report is a little better than the six week mark. My pain level, which is and has mostly been in the area of the bicep work, is slowly decreasing. It has been constantly painful, extremely enflamed, knotted, and sore 24/7. That’s going away, ever so slowly. But at least it is going.
I’ve found that my range of motion is, very slowly, improving. I could not reach up much higher than waist height two weeks ago. Now I can reach up to about shoulder height before I can’t go any farther. I’m now able to do some of the basics like putting my socks on without too much effort and with little to no pain. I can reach the steering wheel in the car now. Still can’t reach the radio. Can’t brush my teeth with the right hand or for that matter, pick my nose. Can’t dry my back off or pull my pants up with the right arm yet.
Today at the rehab facility I reached one of the mini-goals that I’ve been wanting to reach. This is drill they tried to get me to do several weeks ago but due to the bicep scar tissue and damage, I failed. Today I was finally able to do the arm pulley drill. This is a drill where I sit in a chair and pull my bad arm up via pulley with my good arm (photo below). Being able to do this today meant that I was at least progressing.
I expected the drill to be a relief. I’ve been aching to fold my arms or put my arms behind my head etc. It was not a relief though, it was very still and painful. But I would call it a “good kind of pain.”
At this point in my rehab I’m going to get to start doing more strength building and more mobility building, which I’m looking forward to. During my treatment today we felt several “pops” in the shoulder tissue. The therapist said that was scar tissue breaking. This is good. The scar tissue is what’s making the shoulder sore and impossible to move.
I’m still fairly gimpy with the right arm. I feel like a T-Rex. But it is improving. Given the extent of my surgery and the resulting scar tissue and damage, I fear the 2019 golf season will be completely lost. I hope I’m wrong. I’m religiously doing two rehab sessions per week and daily rehab exercises.
I sill have yet to sleep in my bed. Can’t be horizontal without it hurting. I hope to be over that soon because I’m not getting very much sleep at all in a sitting position.