Anyone had their shoulder rebuilt?


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Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 9, 2012 - 12:25am PT
I go in for a reconstruction on my left shoulder on the 29th. I had an MR arthrogram, the contrast they injected kept my shoulder sore for a week.

I have a grade 3 AC joint separation, gleniod labrum tear, and a ruptured capsule. Also most of the cartilage is either torn or completely loose and floating around.

So they get to dig in to my shoulder, but I get to have part of my collarbone removed because of how bad the AC separation is, then they scope the shoulder and fix the other tears and remove the loose cartilage. No climbing for 4-6 months they say. Lame!

Anyone else had this much work done on a shoulder? How will it affect my climbing once I'm recovered late summer, aside from starting with almost no strength?

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
Mar 9, 2012 - 12:50am PT
Welcome to the club, Chico.
I have shoulder surgery on the 29th

My other shoulder was done in 97 and was way worse than this one.
As long as you do your therapy, you are looking at 4 to 6 months,
but should be good to go for climbing.
It was about 4 to 5 months for me to get back to climbing.

Social climber
chica de chico, I don't claim to be a daisy.
Mar 9, 2012 - 06:39pm PT
Hey.. Climbinginchico...Good luck with your shoulder repair....

Quick question.. where do you actually live Chico, San Francisco, Modesto, or Mono Lake??

ps...I hope you have a full- fantastic too, Cosmic...


Mar 9, 2012 - 07:02pm PT
I had mine rebuilt in May a couple of years ago. I'd say 99% back to where it was pre-injury. SCseagoat (Susan) had hers repaired recently. A bunch of us here have had work done on the wing. Most outcomes are good.

If you have any specific questions or want a blow-by-blow recap of my surgery and rehab, please PM me.

Being the veteran of 7 knee surgeries, I was surprised how much more involved recovering from the shoulder job was. Knees are essentially single plane joints while the shoulder moves every which way. Getting range of motion back was more work than strength. That said, going under the knife was the absolute best decision. I was 57 at the time, so if you are younger and in better shape than I was, YMMV on the plus side.

Look forward to an amazing love-hate relationship with your physical therapist.

Wishing you the best,
Mike Friedrichs

Sport climber
City of Salt
Mar 9, 2012 - 08:19pm PT
It will be a year for me in April. I got good at running for awhile and then spent a lot of time in the pool. Swimming really helped me get my range of motion back, keep aerobically fit and strengthen my shoulder.

In my experience, physical therapists know a lot about strength building but not very much about alignment. I got more from working with my yoga teacher.

I was climbing easy routes in about five months and started picking it up in six. It's a long haul. It has be totally worth it though. All the little things that hurt all the time don't now. That is almost more important than climbing. I could tolerate the pain for climbing and pulling down was not the biggest problem. But I couldn't hold a paint brush or even brush my teeth without pain.

Good luck!
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Mar 10, 2012 - 12:35pm PT
I got mine fixed 10 years ago. Look forward to it being good.

Make sure you devote yourself to doing all the physical therapy. That is the key to making it good.
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Mar 10, 2012 - 12:58pm PT
How's that going to affect the Sleds expedition? Or is it the reason why the sleds will be needed?

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Mar 10, 2012 - 01:09pm PT
Mine was done 6 weeks ago. Yeah, what a bitch the contrast xray was. I didn't remain sore from it but was crying for "mama" as they did the dye injection. Another friend just recently had it done and he said it wasn't that bad, then his results didn't lead toward surgery, either. I wonder if the pain is relative to the amount of damage...who knows.

Anyway I am 6 weeks out from torn labrum, rotator cuff. I didn't have to have any collarbone removed, but did have weird floating stuff in there. I am religious with my physical therapy appointments and home program. The first few weeks were quite painful, lots of sleep deprivation (mainly sleep upright). I still have constant ache, but not "pain" unless I move it some way beyond it's current range of motion. Sleep is still a problem with regular waking up at 3 a.m. for icing, but not nearly as bad as first two weeks.

Here was the thread when I posted and lots of folks chimed in with good info.

Everything I've heard is be RELIGIOUS with your follow up PT. My partner had both shoulders done two years ago and after the long healing process he returned to climbing without the problems he had prior (except for rebuilding strength).

Good luck, lots of company on ST with this issue.


Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
Mar 10, 2012 - 01:26pm PT
I HOPE there is ROOM on that sled for me after my Surgery, Ron!!!


Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Mar 10, 2012 - 01:33pm PT
Yes, in 2004. Total success. This was mine looking through the scope of Dr. El'Attrache during surgery.

Credit: Ksolem

From your description it sounds like your injury is more degenerative stuff accumulated over time? Mine was largely traumatic but it was seriously torn up as you can see, but very low inflammation since it was new.

This is something you really want to get right the first time. Get in with a top notch P/T and stick with it. Take all the time you need to get back, jumping the gun on climbing could be unwise. Patience and consistent work will get you there.

For me the crux, in therapy, was the transition from the initial range of motion work into the start of strength training. This is when I discovered Pilates work and I made the discovery that a strong stable shoulder starts from the center and back of the body.

My first climb after surgery was about 6 months, but I built slowly from then and was 100% in about 10. After a year It was like it never happened.

Good luck!

Trad climber
AKA Dwain, from Apple Valley, Ca. and Vegas!
Mar 10, 2012 - 03:05pm PT
Just as long as it's not a SHAVEN YAK, Ron!!!


Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 10, 2012 - 07:38pm PT

I don't know if mine is more degenerative or traumatic- it's been hurting for over two years that I've been fighting with insurance to get it properly diagnosed. I could have either hurt it playing flag football or climbing, but don't remember one "POP! OUCH!" moment... The surgery is just before my 30th birthday, so hopefully it's not long-term degeneration! The right shoulder is partially separated, but not bad enough for surgery yet.

They initially OK'd an X-Ray, but not MRI once the X-Ray showed the separation of the AC joint. They wanted me to try 6 months of conservative treatment, which included cortisone injections (4 total in that shoulder) but not PT- they wouldn't OK it without a complete diagnosis, which I couldn't get without an MRI. Lovely catch-22 Cigna. Thanks for that.

So I finally got the MRI after three angry letters each from my PC physician and ortho doc. That didn't do much until I called Cigna directly and threatened to go to the CA insurance board with a complaint as my symptoms have been getting worse, not better. Wouldn't you know, the next day I got a call saying that my MRI had been approved and they wanted to schedule me.

The MRI was not fully conclusive since there was too much fluid built in the joint to see if I had a full thickness rotator cuff tear. Hence the MR Arthrogram. The injection hurt, but not terribly. IT was kinda cool getting to watch the huge needle get stuck all the way inside the shoulder- they used X-Ray to guide it so I just watched in the reflection off the machine.

Finally got the correct diagnosis when the contrast didn't stay in the capsule, so that leads to the involved surgery... yay!

I'll be sure to keep up on my PT- I've been doing as much strength work as I can to make sure I'm starting off as strong as possible. I'm definitely looking forward to not hurting!

Nita, I used to live in Chico when I was in college and joined the site. Then I got married and moved to Modesto (don't ever move there. Modesto sucks!). Now I'm divorced and live in San Leandro but work in San Francisco. As much as I work, I spend the majority of my time there. Besides, so many people still have no idea where San Leandro is, so SF is easier to name as a location.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Mar 10, 2012 - 07:52pm PT
What a bummer about fighting insurance. Luckily mine went right through without the recommendation for prior therapy...which I had expected. You watched the needle????? Oh my the whole thing squicked me out...I was just finally glad to get in the MRI machine and rest. Oh...stock up on reusable ice packs....I'm rarely without one. Got some great gel ones from my PT.

I never head a pop or had a specific trauma...just lots of overuse and overdoing after a long hiatus. You're very young, you'll bounce right back

Good luck


Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 10, 2012 - 08:05pm PT
Susan, granted I have a lot of tattoos, so needles don't really bother me. Funny thing though, while they used a HUGE needle to do this inkjection, whenever I need to have blood drawn, I can never watch them stick me with that needle. So, it's ok if they're injecting something, but not removing. Weird, right?

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
Mar 10, 2012 - 09:43pm PT
yeah you tore it up good,

usually they try to tie down the shoulder with a strap and the cartilage is supposed to grow around the strap like a rose bush along a trestle,

however, in you case, they knew that the chances of you not using the shoulder during rehab were little or none,
it was highly possible that you would tear the strap and all those people and machinery and drugs in the OR room would be for knott,

so they have gone for the high percentage operation, the open Mumford procedure.

what they do is hack out about 3/4 inch of your collar bone, which you do not need anyway, it is just a leftover from the cave man days,

now you will not develop bursitus later on in life,

and the shoulder will actually be more flexible than before and it will never break again, because it is already broken,

sleep and climbing will never be better,

is there a possibility of any unused drug prescriptions, jus sayin?

Credit: Dr.Sprock

any other questions?

how is you urinary tract?

The Mumford procedure is a surgical procedure done on a patient to relieve pain in the shoulder. Also known as distal clavicle resection, this surgery involves removal of a portion of the clavicle bone. The acromioclavicular (AC) joint is located in the shoulder where the acromion bone and the clavicle meet. A shoulder injury or inflammation in the AC joint can be very painful. Swelling or osteoarthritis in the AC joint can also restrict movement and limit daily activities.

If the shoulder injury or arthritis does not respond to rest, ice, or medication, the patient may want to consider the Mumford procedure. Pain and restriction of movement in the AC joint can be caused by the scraping of the clavicle against the acromion bone. These symptoms should be relieved after the surgery. Once a portion of the clavicle has been removed, the joint will fill in with flexible scar tissue. Results can vary but most patients should be able to resume normal activities after a period of recovery.


Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 3, 2012 - 12:05am PT
I went under the knife two months ago. They ended up not having to do a clavicle resection because, while I did have a grade 3 separation, there was enough scar tissue holding the AC joint together that it was stable, but not impinging on my range of motion.

However, while they thought that was the cause of all my pain, it turns out my rotator cuff was completely gone. Completely torn through 90%, with an 80% thickness tear for the rest of it. My biceps tendon was also 95% torn through. To quote the surgeon, "It looked like a bomb went off in there. I have no idea how your shoulder even worked. There was basically one strand of fishing line holding your biceps on, and the shoulder was destroyed."

I now have 18 plastic anchors and miles of sutures holding my shoulder together, though I bet the sutures have dissolved by now.

I've also had what my surgeon and PT doc call a spectacular recovery. I was in the sling for only three weeks, and started PT after only two weeks since I could already move my arm fairly well. My range of motion is back to 100% already, with pain only at the very end of the range. I am able to do push ups and pull ups, and am slowly but surely getting my endurance back. PT will be wrapping up in another two weeks, and I will be on my own for maintenance.

The best news of all: as of this week I'm cleared to go back to climbing, limited only by strength and pain. I think celebration will be climbing something on Father's Day weekend.

The bad news: now that my left shoulder doesn't hurt much, I am noticing how painful and limited my right shoulder is... I think that will have to wait until winter.

I have climbing to do this summer, after all.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Social climber
Retired in Appalachia
Jun 3, 2012 - 08:13am PT
I had TWO such shoulder operations, one on each side.

My days of climbing anything over class 5.0 are over.
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