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McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Mar 11, 2013 - 05:44pm PT
3 degree separation 12 years ago. Right Shoulder. No surgery. No professional therapy. Had a dislocated shoulder once. Same thing but not as serious. It just takes time. I had to learn how I could pull and how I couldn't - had to quit all forms of pushing like mantling, even partial mantles, and keep the grades down to 5.9. I can pull pretty hard again but may keep staying away from chinups. I prefer endurance workouts to keep stress levels down. Overall, it may be a better way to do things anyway at an older age. I'm 61. I've built it up well enough that it's hard to push it up and out anymore. Pure mantling seems to fallen out of favor to heel hooking so no loss there either.

I do remember now, that it was difficult to ride a bicycle for awhile so I ran instead. I am riding again with no problems - can even do Century rides. I think the most important thing is to be willing to change activity priorities. I have always done enough different sports, that giving up one for awhile was just an opportunity to do another. I have recovered to the point where I can climb has hard as I really want to - certainly past the 5.10 range. From the beginning it was just not that debilitating and I really did not stop climbing - but I did not go beyond 5.9s either with it. You just have to learn what you can and can't do. I did not stop running because of it, although some support for that is gone for awhile! Even the mantles are coming back. In general, I'm not very OCD and believe in the bodies amazing ability to heal itself, but you have to find how you can work it out, and where you still have strength in it, and focus on that and the rest will follow. Sometimes we just have to get out of the way and not expect too much too soon. For a couple of years, the strain of the missing support could be felt, but that strain caused by the missing connection is the stimulus for the shoulder to build what it needs to build around the area. I don't think I am better endowed for healing than most people - but I do know that were there is a will there is a way. You have to believe you can do it. The pulling of climbing is the best thing for it it seems. One thing that contributed to the injury in the first place was that I had quit weight training and was not climbing and actually tried to shrink the mass of my body for marathon running.

One thing I was unable to heal without getting surgery was an inguinal hernia. I even built devices to hold it in for running and hiking, but finally gave up on that one! I gave up on lifting very large rocks as well!

Mountain climber
San Diego, CA
Mar 11, 2013 - 06:04pm PT
This is a relatively recent article on the conservative management of grade 3 AC separations:

All I got for now, but please feel free to contact me if you'd like me to research something for you or provide you with more information.

Edit: I found a literature review comparing surgical vs. non-surgical approaches, the good stuff is in the "conclusion":

Hope you are back in the game soon, and I hope you are feeling better even sooner.

Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
Mar 11, 2013 - 06:08pm PT
Oh no, sorry Scott

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Mar 11, 2013 - 06:26pm PT
Looks like you're getting some good advice.....good luck!

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Mar 11, 2013 - 06:51pm PT
Go see a good sports orthopaedic doctor and get the shoulder evaluated(maybe you have already done that). A good sports doctor can lay out all your options from non-surgical to surgical alternatives.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Soon to be Nipple suckling Liberal
Mar 11, 2013 - 06:57pm PT
Have a PT freind whom had to get his operated on. Tightened the tendons back up, but he still has trouble today..

I have total atrophy of the infra and supra spinatus- and now,, they think whats left of the connective tissues and tendons have recoiled up under the deltoid causing -well,, NO fun times. Permanent knotts and assorted pains and no way to fix it. No nerve, no muscles. Good luck with yours!
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Mar 11, 2013 - 08:39pm PT
Since I have not had much reason to communicate what I've done over the years since the separation injury, I have to let the memories flow in. Using trekking type poles I think, was a big help in therapy. Getting that relatively mild pull-down that transitions into a mild push down on steep hills is great. Poling during cross-country skiing is very good too. I still do trad cross-country and donít bother with skating. Iím sure the poling motion in skating would be good also. Strangely enough, there have been other injuries that have intervened to keep me from over-doing recovery. On the list is a broken left wrist, and the most recent was a pretty badly pulled Achilles last year Ė both motorcycle related (laugh here). The Achilles kept me from any kind of climbing for at least 6 months, but once I was able to resume climbing workouts - I came back stronger than ever and is where I am at now - an example that laying off can be good - nothing lost.

I own an inexpensive total gym and it is good for recovery if a person does not over do it in the beginning. I would think rowing type workouts would be good too. I have even done some rowing in a real boat for recovery and fun. I always felt that given time I could do plenty of compensatory building around the injury - it has taken time but I think it's all been a success.
ron gomez

Trad climber
Mar 11, 2013 - 09:03pm PT
ACL is in the knee.....A-C joint is in the shoulder complex, my advice, get a medical dictionary.

Sportbikeville & Yucca brevifolia
Mar 11, 2013 - 09:19pm PT
I did this in November 2010 motorcycle road racing. All three tendons detached.
Xray looked baaaad.

No surgery = no arthritis
All the friends/athletes I know say no to the knife for this one.
I'm really glad I made the same choice.

Three months in and I was exercising relatively hard again.(cognizant of the injury)
6-8 months I was mountain biking hard and pulling down hard in the gym at one year.
Today I have a little bump above my right shoulder but no pain. I have %100 mobility and %95 strength ( which I could improve)
I rode a Honda CRF450 for about four hours on a motocross track yesterday.
45+ hard laps at speed.

Good luck Scott.

Edit: Only one Doctor out of 4 recommended surgery, he was wrong.
Edit II: I weight train and think it was very helpful in getting my strength back as rapidly as I did. I was very careful in the first 6 months but did not baby the injury too much. It's a fine line. Just be smart.

Trad climber
fort garland, colo
Mar 11, 2013 - 09:34pm PT
Pt MAY work.. unless you really ripped it up (and you may have) After you climbing 25 ? years, I'm guessing it's kinda messed up anyway.

I never hit #3 but a series of dislocations when I wa syoung made me hit PT (bands ) hard.. other than some rotational issue s20 years later, it's all good

good luck

Big Wall climber
san jose, ca
Mar 11, 2013 - 10:10pm PT
Credit: briham89

Welcome to the club! Mine was from mountain biking too. I chose against surgery and it doesn't bother me at all now (~2 years later). It was a problem for about 2 months for me and then I was able to start some physical activity again (slowly). Now I don't even notice it. I have heard surgery is not the way to go... Plus you can really freak people out the way your collar bone pops up haha. But all joking aside, sorry about the injury.

P.S. I'm also young and heal fast, so that might have something to do with my situation

Way out there....
Mar 11, 2013 - 10:15pm PT
I have two of surgery, climbed V7 today. But They do make some funny noises.


Trad climber
Mar 11, 2013 - 10:53pm PT
Sorry to hear that, Scott! Heal up man.

Mar 12, 2013 - 01:29am PT
Ouch... sounds painful. I've had torn ligaments in my ankle, my wife severely sprained sacroiliac joint, lumbar and cervical sprains from a car accident. For my ankle, years ago I had prolotherapy dextrose injections that completely healed the ankle. The injured ankle is now stronger than the unsprained one. My wife has made great progress with stem cell injections.

Prolotherapy has been refined over the years and can now be done with your own blood platelets or stem cells (adipose or bone). I treat many kinds of injuries in my office using acupunture and laser, but for soft tissue injuries of this nature I would recommend seeing a physician experienced with platelet and stem cell injections.

If it were my shoulder, I would check out one of the following:

Allan Mishra, MD in Menlo Park - he's one of the pioneers in the field.

Donna Alderman, D.O.

Harry Adelson, N.D.

I would be very careful to select a physician that specializes in the procedure and has lots of experience. There are many newer practitioners that just don't have the experience level and this type of therapy is starting to become really popular. Good luck.

Trad climber
Mar 12, 2013 - 01:35am PT
I seperated my right shoulder about three years ago. I think it was grade 3, but can't remember. Snowboarding. One week in of a two week trip. It sucked. Ended my season.
I opted to not go for surgery as they said it was only a 4/5 chance that it would actually fix it, it would lay me up for the next 4-5 months, and I'm so active that it would probably happen again anyways.
Now my collarbone is permanently sticking up about an inch higher than the other one (until I do it in too) but I have full mobility, and it only ever aches a bit if I lie on it for too long or something.
As a plus, I've fallen on it a couple more time recently in such a way that would potentially re-injure it if it was fixed, but as it is, I was just able to shake it off.

Big Wall climber
san jose, ca
Mar 12, 2013 - 03:00am PT
I have full mobility, and it only ever aches a bit if I lie on it for too long or something.
As a plus, I've fallen on it a couple more time recently in such a way that would potentially re-injure it if it was fixed, but as it is, I was just able to shake it off.

This is spot on for me too
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Mar 12, 2013 - 03:30am PT
DDingle above mentioned stem cell injection so I was reading about Lymph fluid and apparently stem cells are sent to injured areas - via swelling with lymph fluids. One reference said all lymphocytes are derived from stem cells. I read some things about this last year when my Achilles was injured. It made me feel better about the swelling I had. I healed up very well and made no effort to decrease swelling that started at the knee and went to the toes.

Boulder climber
I'm James Brown, Bi-atch!
Mar 12, 2013 - 03:36am PT

Mar 12, 2013 - 03:43am PT
I've offered this up before: I was diagnosed with a IV (Basically a very big III).after I augered in on the velodrome going 40-0 mph ins about .25 of a second.
My original doc was a jackass and by the time it was properly assessed I was 4 weeks out and feeling a lot better, so I elected not to get it fixed. That was > 15 years ago, and it is fine. I wasn't climbing much at the time of the original injury but since then I've climbed a lot and I haven't thought about it in years.

Social climber
Mar 12, 2013 - 05:59am PT
hey there, say, coz,

get well, from this, soon...

god bless...

can't say

Social climber
Pasadena CA
Mar 12, 2013 - 08:53am PT
I've had 3 grade 2 AC separations (2 on the left, 1 on right). Never had surgery on them. Generally I don't have any issues with them, but sleeping on my side gets uncomfortable as there is no shoulder carriage support that the clavicle is supposed to offer. But I do have a fun party trick where if I push down on one side, the other side moves up and down accordingly.

From what I have heard about grade 3 separations is they usually require surgery as the ligaments get torn and need to be repaired.

Good luck Scott.

Oh yeah, one other thing if you don't get it surgically repaired. Carrying heavish packs can get uncomfortable with the clavicles sticking up like they do.

Trad climber
Grand Junction, CO
Mar 12, 2013 - 09:45am PT
I had a grade 3 last year and did not have surgery. I had never had acupuncture before but decided to give it a try. A week after the injury I started intensive 2-3 times a week visits. They were difficult to go to as I did not like needles and it hurt. A month after the injury I was back to climbing easier stuff. The doctor seemed pretty amazed at the speed of recovery. From what I have heard it all depends on the acupuncturist... Now I do a lot of physical conditioning and have had no problems. I may be a little younger and able to heal a quickly though (27).

Sport climber
Mar 12, 2013 - 12:46pm PT
did mine a few years back on a mtn bike too. beyond an x-ray never had a proper exam by an ortho, in hindsight it probably would have been a good idea. that said, after the initial heal, mine came back to 90% or so. given 40+ years of climbing the shoulders are pretty much wrecked anyways, so this was more insult to injury. still mtn bike, xc skate, weight train, and climb, just accept that's the way it is for now and figure if it goes, surgery is still out there as an option. i remember werner had a floating collar bone too, didn't seem to slow him down much.

Trad climber
Mar 12, 2013 - 01:04pm PT
Separated mine 24 years ago. No surgery and I feel great! I do gym therapy and it is in great shape. My first doc said no climbing so I just focused on finishing school and the typewriter was giving me a helluva bad time. I could only type a page or two before my shoulder would hurt bad enough to make me stop. I ran into Grant Hiskes in the library and he asked if I wanted to check out the Grotto. I figured what the hell, I can belay(6 months after the separation). But for fun I jumped on a juggy 5.9. I have to say that my shoulder has not really fukked with me since. I MTB a lot and ski a fair amount and still climb a little bit. I'll bet you will be fine with some therapy!! Good luck. I did mine MTBing as well.


Trad climber
The state of confusion
Mar 12, 2013 - 03:54pm PT

Coz-- the only sure cure is amputation at the neck.
Guaranteed, 100%. It werks. hee hee hee. . .

I hope you get it fixed & are back soon. . .
The Warbler

the edge of America
Mar 13, 2013 - 02:17am PT
I did it too, over the bars with a gallon of water and some climbing gear to help me slam my shoulder real hard in the dirt. No surgery, about a month and a half of babying it, then gradually back to square one in 4 to 6 months. Never bothers me, except maybe some mantels, and my otherwise perfectly sculpted shoulder has a new knob atop it.

Yer gonna be fine Coz.

Mountain biking is more dangerous than climbing...

Mar 13, 2013 - 02:20am PT
^^^^ I should also mention that your flab will sag more on that side which will affect your feelings about how you look in a backless dress
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