Shoulder surgery - experiences of recovery time

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Shoulder surgery - experiences of recovery time

Post by dlm »

Hi All,
I'm a 42 year old keen paddler, usually on the water 2-3 days a week. Mixture of WW kayak, coaching juniors, flatwater canoe and a bit of ww canoe.

Following an arm hyper extension a year ago i've just had the results of an mri arthrogram on my shoulder. its not the news i was expecting. A HAGL detatchment (guessing this is a tear?) and a supraspinatus tear. Consultant says it needs open shoulder surgery similar to a stablisation op. She has said 6-8 weeks in a sling, and six months of no heavy lifting. She says a gentle pootle on the river at 7-8 months with 9-18 months before i'm back on white water.

I'm a bit gutted obviously, but was wondering if any of you have had open shoulder surgery, or the same injury and what your experience of the recovery time/results were like?

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Re: Shoulder surgery - experiences of recovery time

Post by andynormancx »

I’ve not had surgery, but I did have a shoulder injury, with just a bit of tear in something. It took me 8 months until I was really fit.

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Re: Shoulder surgery - experiences of recovery time

Post by Chas C »

I had a keyhole decompression done, I never took account of the warnings, thinking I knew best and was taking pain killers for maybe 3-4 yrs post op as I tried to get back far too early. In hindsight with some experience I'd suggest you take heed of the warnings given.

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Re: Shoulder surgery - experiences of recovery time

Post by LucyLou19 »

A HAGL is a tearing of the glenohumeral ligament (one of the important ligaments attaching your humerus to your shoulder).

Id say 8 months is fair. I had a keyhole stabilisation that was relativley complex (good surgeon, it probably would have been open surgery otherwise) in Nov 2017, i pootled around on grade 2 in May. I have the added issue my other shoulder needs repairing, but it feels so great in comparison to how it did pre surgery.

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Re: Shoulder surgery - experiences of recovery time

Post by Colin C »

I have just had a laterjet procedure done 2 weeks ago, which is open surgery to stabilise the shoulder, and have been told that i need to keep it imobalised for 4 weeks and then rehab for a further 3 months and then should be able to get back in a boat, to start building up to returning to surfing.
28 years ago I had a capsule reduction to the same shoulder and was immobalised for 4 weeks, and then rehab which took a good few months.the good news is that its considerably less painful this time round as they used a nerve block, and there was no drain in place etc, even given that they went through scar tissue, so my information is that 4/5 months after surgery I should be well on the road to recovery. I hope that the info the surgeon gives me, and by working with an experienced physio, I hope to give my shoulder the best chance of recovery, and get back on the water as soon as I can, with minimum risk.


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Re: Shoulder surgery - experiences of recovery time

Post by GaryM »

I had a similar issue 30 years ago, and had open surgery (long before keyhole was being used), and I can relate 100% with what is being recommended.
My surgery was in the September of 1988, and by the late summer/autumn of 1989 I was back paddling the Tryweryn.

Yes, it sounds a long time, but it really is important to take it slowly if you want to maintain functioning of the joint for years to come and avoid arthritic changes.
Get advice on good physio from the surgeon too, and maybe ask a specialist sports physio what they recommend. I recall I was given advice on gentle rotational movements I could do a home and work as soon as shoulder was out of the sling.
Also, you will probably lose some outwards rotation of the arm, but that does not impede you much. First time you try driving afterwards changing gear can be a bit of an effort.
I do remember being told I would never be able to raise the arm fully vertically again, and on final discharge after a couple of months gentle flat water paddling on the River Severn, proved him wrong much to his delight.

Has it worked? Well, now I'm retired, and spent a very pleasant few hours this morning paddling the River Teme from Ashford Carbonell to Tenbury, playing on all the spots we found.

However, one thing I found very helpful a few years after the surgery was going to Plas y Brenin on one of their Rolling Re-Constructed weekends, certainly improved my technique and made me easier in my mind.

Hope that helps, and if you need more info, please ask.
Gary Mascall

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Re: Shoulder surgery - experiences of recovery time

Post by conoroneill »

I had a shoulder op around 30 years ago. My experience is similar to Gary's.
Definitely talk to a good sports physio.
I was paddling again (gently) around 8 months after the op. I slowly moved onto harder things and a few years later was paddling at the top of my game (albeit that was only grade 4).
Unfortunately, a few years later I dislocated my other shoulder. But even so, I soon went on to paddle the Grand Canyon.
Whatever you do, talk to, and listen to, a good sports physio, before and after any op. And do any exercises they suggest - they really do work.
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Re: Shoulder surgery - experiences of recovery time

Post by Mantaray »

I had a sub-achromial decompression and repair of a labrum tear in my right shoulder about 10 years ago but it was keyhole surgery. From memory I think it took about 3 months in total to recover but that was following physio advice and doing plenty of exercises to build the strength back and not pushing it. I'm quite sure I started physio - and this was the post-op hospital physio by the way - a couple of weeks after surgery using bands, initially, then moving onto weights in the gym with specific exercises that targeted that area.

During that time I didn't get in my boat at all.

I have to say that despite a little loss of mobility I've not had any issues with it since.
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Re: Shoulder surgery - experiences of recovery time

Post by Simon »

The key issue has bee emphasised here, which is excellent. Get a good sports physio, and work with him or her before and after the surgery. You will be with the surgeon for about two hours, and the physio for about six months - guess which one determines the outcome more.

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Re: Shoulder surgery - experiences of recovery time

Post by cathalferris »

Do *not* disregard the physio's advice on when to do the more strenuous activities.
I know of one paddler around here that thought he knew better than the medical professionals and went paddling much harder much sooner than stated to him, and he's been unable to get certified for any club membership since. His docs do not consider him safe to paddle with as a result.

That's a real pity, don't let it happen to you.

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Re: Shoulder surgery - experiences of recovery time

Post by chrisps »

I also reckon 9-12 months of about right.

On the physio side; another thing to add; don't let of doing what they say, even if it hurts...

I had an explosive posterior dislocation where the ball of the joint slightly shattered (although luckily didn't do much ligament damage).

All was going well for a month, then the mobilisation exercises started hurting, so I pushed it less. And they started with less extension, so I pushed it less again, until I ended up with a badly frozen shoulder requiring 2 months of 2-3 times a week physio to basically tear the ligaments back out again (which is as nice as it sounds).

However, all that said, I was very tentatively paddling G3-4 again after abbot 7 months after the accident and back at totally full strength in 12-14 months. Now I don't even really think of it any more... Except that I don't do waterfalls or big cliff jumps any more, as my shoulder doesn't like the sudden force of impact

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