I saw my shoulder surgeon for the final time yesterday; final check following my surgery for torn rotator cuff, torn labrum, torn bicep tendon, and bone spurs. It is now exactly 18 weeks since my surgery. I’ve spent many weeks on the physical therapy table below, looking at a great photo of Arnold Palmer. He looks so calm and his grip is very solid. His glove hand is perfectly perpendicular to the shaft, which is interesting.
In today’s report there’s some good news and bad news. Seems like there’s never just good news in these reports. Someday.
I’ve made some progress in the last 2-3 weeks, following a cortisone shot. In physical therapy my range of motion is increasing quicker now than it was. That’s probably thanks to the shot and simply time to heal. The doc said I can cut down my physical therapy sessions from twice a week to once a week, and he suggested that I only need to go about 4-6 more times. He said I have good strength in my arm.
Though I’m only prescribed another 4-6 weeks of PT, that doesn’t mean I’ll be “done” by then. Not even close. Because of my frozen shoulder condition, the doc said it would probably be another year and a half before I have full motion in my right arm. He doesn’t see me playing golf at all in 2019.
What am I to do now? I’ve been playing multiple rounds of golf per week for decades (when there’s no snow). I’ve built up a popular, one-man golf blog based on mostly on-course testing and evaluation of golf gear. I could cover golf apparel, travel, and maybe a few accessories here and there without actually playing I suppose. I can’t swing a damn club so there go any club reviews, grip reviews, ball reviews and so on. Where’s the motivation going to come from?
I’m not mad and I’m not sad about the situation. I guess I’m just accepting it. The odd thing is that I haven’t missed playing golf. Not at all. Perhaps knowing I can’t play is why. Honestly, my frustration level and my bank account haven’t missed playing.
Prior to the 2018 season I had struggled with my game the previous two years. I fantasized about quitting. When 2018 hit I made some gear changes which re-sparked my game and enjoyment a bit so I stuck with it. But now it is looking like I won’t play until perhaps late 2020, and I’ve already gone seven months without playing. I’ll be starting over completely. Golf is hard enough as it is, to have to start over. And how much power will I have when I come back?
I don’t have the answers to any of these questions/issues at this point. I’m just taking it one tight-shoulder day at a time.
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.
I’m now past the 12 week mark following shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, torn labrum, torn bicep tendon, and to remove bone spurs in the shoulder capsule. I’ve been suffering pain with extreme stiffness and inflammation for months now. Sleeping has been difficult. My body has over-reacted to the surgery and “healed too well,” as my physical therapist says. There is a large buildup of scar tissue which is causing pain and reducing my mobility and flexibility. This condition is known as “frozen shoulder.”
I saw the shoulder surgeon last week for my 12 week check, and we decided the best course of action for the above issues was to do a steroid shot into the shoulder capsule. This is to reduce inflammation, swelling, and stiffness, and help me progress faster in rehabilitation.
The shot hurt. It was kind of a deep, dense pain. That pain was even worse over the next 2-3 days. Fortunately that pain has gone away mostly, but I still have quite a bit of discomfort. Pain will flare up if I move the wrong way or push things too hard.
Today (12.5 weeks), I did my first rehab exercises following the shot. The doc recommended taking a break from them for a few days. I feel like I’m in the same position mobility-wise and pain wise, that I was in five weeks ago. I’m hoping the shot will do its thing and I’ll start to more quickly recover and progress.
I’m nowhere near being able to swing a golf club, which is expected but still frustrating. I’m not even at a point that I could take a club out of the golf bag with the right arm.
Not much else to say except it sucks.
Today marks the sixth week since my shoulder surgery for torn rotator cuff, torn labrum, torn bicep tendon. I’ve been religiously doing my physical therapy and home exercises. Which has been going slowly in terms of gaining mobility. The area where the doctor did the bicep tenodesis (cut the torn tendon away and screwed the end into the bone) has been extremely sore and very tight. Yesterday I consulted with the shoulder doctor in my six-week checkup on the shoulder.
Arthroscopic photo of some of my shoulder repairs
The good news is the doc has released me from having to wear the sling. This is huge. I’ve been sleeping sitting up, with the sling on. I had to shower in a sling. Do everything in the sling. You can imagine how much of a pain doing things one handed with your weak hand is.
As I mentioned, the area where they worked on my bicep tendon is not happy. The doc informed me I have “frozen shoulder,” also known as “adhesive capsulitis.” Adhesive capsulitis is a painful and disabling disorder in which the connective tissue surrounding the joint of the shoulder becomes inflamed and stiff, greatly restricting motion and causing chronic pain.
Chronic pain: check.
Restricted motion: check.
I’m really irritated about it: check.
This will increase my recovery time by an unknown amount. I may end up having to get a steroid injection to assist in the healing, but have to wait until the surgery is healed before that can happen. If I get the shot, it would be in another six weeks.
I have some basic use of my right arm now. I can type a bit. I can put my socks on, just barely. I can’t reach much higher than my waist however. So reaching the steering wheel of the car is a no go. Can’t reach the radio buttons in the car either.
I’m not thrilled at this point. For now I’m just hoping to be ready for next ski season. I’m unsure I’ll get any golf rounds in for the 2019 calendar year.
I hope to prove myself wrong and that I can get some golf in before 2020. I’m working hard on the rehab and doing whatever I can.
I’m hurting in numerous ways right now. First, spring has sprung here in northern Utah. The courses have just opened. I live on a course, and the parking lot has been packed, with the temps going from snow to the 50’s and 60’s. Second, ski season is still in full swing. The resorts in Utah have gotten hammered with a massive amount of snow, and I’m not skiing it. Third, I’m now exactly five weeks removed from my shoulder surgery for a torn rotator cuff, torn labrum, and torn bicep tendon.
I’m still in a sling. One more week to go. That’s extremely irritating, especially since I have to sleep in it. I’ve just barely started to be able to do some basic typing, but after a few minutes the bicep portion of the surgery really flares up and hurts like hell. I had a bicep tenodesis, where they cut an inch or two of the bicep tendon off, and screw the end into the bone. Yeah. Fun.
I’m attending rehab (a.k.a physical therapy) several times per week and doing daily exercises to strengthen and loosen up the shoulder. Earlier this week the therapist tried to introduce me to a new exercise, pulling my arm up with my other arm, via a pulley. Total fail.
The setup photo above looks like some kind of rig for sexual deviants. I wish it was. It’s the pulley chair. Three days ago they put me in it and asked me to reach up and grab the handle. I tried like hell, but couldn’t. So they lifted my arm up for me, which was a new experience in pain. I then tried to do the pulley action, using my left arm to lift my right arm up. After about two incredibly painful reps where I moved it maybe a quarter of an inch, the therapist stopped me. She said, “I can see your bicep twitching.” I wasn’t ready.
At today’s therapy session the therapist didn’t even bother with the S&M chair. That was a bit depressing, as I want to progress. But I know I can’t push it either. No point in going through this hell again.
So the goal for now is simple. Get to where I can do some reps in the S&M chair. Baby steps.