Wednesday, 6 July 2011

SLAP Tear

Since I now work round the corner from the BSO clinic I went there about my shoulder.
At the BSO you're treated by final year students supervised by their tutors. I thought this would not only be convenient, but might get at the root of the problem because the students will be fired up with enthusiasm and will be looking for something interesting and their tutors will be very experienced and knowledgeable. It seemed the best situation.
They did a thorough examination and concluded that they thought I had a SLAP tear. They explained it to me and as they did I felt that they had really figured out the real problem. The tutor demonstrated that if I let my arm go limp and let him move it around he could recreate the problem - which means it's not a muscular problem.
Unfortunately, it won't be as easy to recover - as demonstrated. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint, but because we need the large range of motion of the shoulder the socket is very shallow, the bone is hardly a socket at all, but it is ringed by a fibrous ring called the Glenoid Labrum and the rotator cuff muscles help to hold the shoulder together. They suspect it is the Glenoid Labrum that I have torn (Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior). They were doubful whether they could fix it without surgery and referred me to my doctor to arrange an MRI scan..

I was very annoyed with myself. I had taken the exercise that Marco had given me and adapted it myself. It was a triceps extension exercise on an incline bench using an EZ bar. I found it really difficult to use the EZ bar because as you pick it up and move it into the working position over the body it swivels unnervingly in the hands. So I thought I would use dumbbells instead. What I hadn't thought of is that although I could do the exercise OK with 15Kg on each side if I failed to keep my upper arms dead upright there's no way I could get it back there - and that's what happened and I strained my shoulder.

Mark my words - if you ever adapt an exercise yourself consider carefully what might happen if it goes wrong. Do a proper risk analysis - an injury could set you back months.

My MRI scan is in a couple of weeks time and in the mean time I am continuing to go to the BSO and we (they and me) think it is already getting better now they know  roughly what is wrong. They have recommended holding a hot water bottle on it for about 10 minutes which I am doing religiously each night and some gentle exercises to get the joint moving. At my first visit they thought I'd need surgery to fix this problem, but I am hopeful I can avoid that. I don't really want a surgeon digging down into the heart of my shoulder.

I'm not in any pain at all most of the time, but certain movements are painful. It's a strange pain - it isn't sharp or immediate - it takes a few seconds to build up after I've aggravated it and then more seconds to die down again.  Putting shirts and jackets on and taking them off is difficult. While my shoulder is in this state, however, I can't do any exercises with the left arm and I shouldn't even carry anything with it if I can avoid it. This means there is almost no gym work I can do. Even the front squats would be impossible because of the position I'd have to hold my arm in. Just when I really do want to get into the gym work I can't.
I intend to develop my grip with some training springs I bought for the purpose a long time ago - that shouldn't be a problem and will make me in a better position when I start again properly. I also intend to get down to doing Pilates regularly to improve my posture and core strength - that would be really good too. So perhaps I should call these few months additional preparation time.

By the way, the job is going fine.

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