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Wreck....AC separation?(14 posts)

Wreck....AC separation?rcarbs
Apr 11, 2002 10:23 AM
Well I went over the top at 27 mph and landed on my head (broke my helmet) and shoulder. I have been diagnosed with a 3rd degree A-C separation. I think that this may be a common cycling injury and wanted to know how many others have had this happen to them, what they did to "fix" it and how long until they were back to 100%? My orthopedic surgeon suggested waiting 2 months and see how things are at that time, if little improvement then consider surgery. I'm not with an HMO so I can easily get a 2nd opinion. I'm not thrilled with waiting 2 months without getting back on the bike (still in the shop getting the fork replaced). Any shared experiences would be appreciated.
re: Wreck....AC separation?netso
Apr 11, 2002 10:36 AM
Well went I had my accident which produced a-c separation (3), I was out 11/2-2 mos. Never had surgery.
re: Wreck....AC separation?merckx56
Apr 11, 2002 10:46 AM
I did the same thing to my shoulder about four years ago and decided against the surgery. i was the dumbass that decided to "heal" for about 5 days and ride again, only to re-separate it getting out of bed one morning! the injury has developed a life of its own in that time. because i have not had it repaired, my left shoulder now sits differently than the right. my collarbone is about 1 inch lower than the right side, and does not protroud the way it should. i have a pinched nerve in my neck that gives me a migraine about twice a month. my shoulder hurts everyday!
I can go in and let them "break" my shoulder and be out for 4 months, followed by about 6 months of rehab, or live with the pain, and hope i crash on it again, so i can get it fixed. my advice is to seek a second opinion, but if that doc says surgery, bite the bullet and do it.
Add me to the A-C seperation listPaulCL
Apr 11, 2002 10:59 AM
3rd degree. Endo at 40mph.

No surgery. I tried to do 'rehab' myself. Didn't work. I finally broke down (pun intended) and saw a physical therapist. The PT gave me a set of exercises with big rubber bands that gave me 90% of my strength back within two months. Three years later, I'm much stronger due to regular lifting. I still do the rubber band things twice a week on the bad shoulder.

Before seeing the PT, I suffered alone for several months. It was 4 weeks until the bike was repaired, then another 3 weeks before I could get back on. The pressure you put on your shoulder by leaning onto the bars may hurt like hell - mine did. I didn't ride painfree until I did the PT.

Go for PT NOW! Work on your shoulder while the bike is in the shop. Good luck. Paul
Grade 2 here...Slowclimber
Apr 11, 2002 12:13 PM
Suffered the separation last September on a MTB crash. I was off the bike completly for about three weeks, then started riding the trainer for another two weeks and was back on light trails and the road with in six weeks.

I didn't have surgery and don't have pain in the shoulder anymore but it's still messed up. I can pop my collar bone out at will and if my shoulder is compressed towards my body it pops out, such as laying on my side. If surgery would keep it from coming out I would seriously consider it at this point in time because it is very annoying.

My advise is to listen to your doctor, complete rehab and take it easy off of the bike for as long as they tell you.

Good luck...
Another Grade 2; no surgery, no problems 5 years laterretro
Apr 11, 2002 12:29 PM
Same old story--endo on a bike trail. Ortho surgeon said to wait a few weeks and see what happened. I wore a sling for several days (?? don't remember), then went back to normal activity as I could manage it. I'd been lifting weights when it happened, and as soon as I could do it without pain, I started doing the shoulder stuff on a Nautilus machine with the lightest possible weight--like 10 pounds where I'd been using 120, just to keep the range of motion. On my own, I added weights as I got stronger, and in a few months I was back where I'd been before. One important thing was that I never did have much pain--the only bad part was the crash itself. Beyond that, I never had more than a sort of dull ache, and not always that.
Five years later, I have a visible bump in the shoulder and I can't hold a phone to my ear on that side without my hands, but otherwise no problems at all.
Welcome to the club...Snowbird
Apr 11, 2002 1:09 PM
Had mine 10 years ago on MTB but this injury is very common up here with hockey players. Doc said surgery was only for cosmetics if I wanted to remove the bump on the top of my shoulder. No career as a model so I let it go. The physiotherapy was a really good move, it fixed several other issues. In addition my therapist was a cyclist and she was HOT!
Heck yesCrankist
Apr 11, 2002 5:52 PM
Moronic 6'6" roller blader carrying bike across his back
saw me coming and moved right. Moved left as I got there.
Endo onto my head and shoulder; I could not move. I though I had broken my neck. Unhurt he calls back "Are you OK?" I said "f - no! I can't move!" He just skated away with his pals. Finally some normal people came by with a cell and called 911. I guess I don't need to tell you how horrible the pain was. Ate up a bucketfull of percs. and watched the Food Channel for a week. I was riding within 3-4wks. No surgery, just that damn bump. 9 mos.later and all is mostly well, just some residual weakness. Follow your doc's orders. Good luck.
re: Wreck....AC separation?Sharkman
Apr 11, 2002 8:22 PM
I had a severe grade III separation in high school playing football 30 years ago. It was pinned together surgically, and my recovery was probably close to a year before I was 100%. I understand that surgical techniques for a/c separations and treatments in general have come a long way since then.

I recovered fully and actually got quite strong through weightlifting, eventually getting a bench press in the 370 range. I did great for 29 years.

About a year ago, the should started acting up again, and it eventually impacted my ability to ride. So I had a subacromial decompression surgery about two and half months ago and now am almost as good as new.

The moral to the story, or my message if you will, is be careful. What seems simple in your teens or twenties can come back to haunt you if everything is not done right long term, especially in the shoulder area.

Good luck and I hope it recovers for you quickly.

re: Wreck....AC separation?skyman51
Apr 12, 2002 4:07 AM
I had a grade II AC separation last year around March. I didn't realize what I had done at the time. I got back up,hosed off the scraped knees and hip,straightened the handlebars and finished the last 13 miles of the ride. I did not go to the Doc,but was in quite alot of pain for a couple of weeks. Everything then seemed to be fine. About three months later, my shoulder "froze" in place. I couldn't raise my arm or move it away from my body. Went to the orthopedist. Got a shot of cortisone which freed it up.He also did an x-ray and MRI,which showed the separation. He sent me to a physical therapist for rehab and excercises. It has been fine since,with occasional aching,but advil before and after a ride seems to help. I am 51,and expect it to pain me from here on out. Good Luck!
Grade 3Sherpa23
Apr 12, 2002 3:59 AM
I had a grade 3 separation from a BAD wreck in a Pro criterium (it's often on ESPN @ 2am and on Boulder Public Access all the time) and I did not do physical therapy or surgery (doc said why trade a bump for a scar and have to deal with surgery), was on the trainer in 4 days and on my bike in 7. I did not race again for 2 months (no falling off, please) and did not go down any decents for 2 weeks. I was winning race again in 2.5 months. Hope this helps.
Does any of this sound familier? Symptoms?mikebikr
Apr 12, 2002 4:11 AM
I wrecked on a snowboard of all things(stupid) two Saturdays ago. I should have been training I guess. Anyhow, Tremendous pain, but too stubborn to seek medical attention immediately. I try to ride now and it hurts...bad. I have a very restricted range of motion. THe worst part is sometimes I move my arm and get a severe shooting pain down through my bicep. Feels like molten lava. The pain actually feels wet if that makes sense. I'm scheduled to see an orthopod next Tuesday. Maybe a brachial plexus injury??? Any other ideas?
re: the pain you describelonefrontranger
Apr 12, 2002 5:09 AM
Not a separated shoulder, but the description of the pain is *exactly* what I felt after I "tractioned" the nerve in my foot when I broke my ankle last fall. The doctor told me at the time that the type of break I had (my heel bone essentially acted like a little anvil and knocked the end off my tibia) often had problems from nerve traction. He said he commonly saw these in broken ankles resulting from rapid deceleration type injury (car wrecks).

The moral of the story is that I was in major, MAJOR pain from this for a week, felt like the bottom of my foot was sitting indeed in a bed of lava. I had to go back in and have my cast replaced at a less than 90% bend to relieve the stretch on the irritated nerve. But there wasn't any long term effect, and I was completely back to normal after about 8 weeks, even though the orthopod was kinda worried I might lose some proprioception in my foot.

There is a big nerve bundle that originates under the shoulder blade and runs through your underarm and over your funny bone. I suspect you bruised or stretched it somehow, since it sounds very much like the nerve pain I had. Vicodin, immobilization and rest were the only solutions for my case. Definitely see your doc and good luck! If the nerve was actually damaged rather than merely bruised or inflamed, then it may take longer to heal.
Thanks. I see the orthopod on Tuesday.mikebikr
Apr 13, 2002 6:56 AM
Hopefully I'll race this weekend before he tells me not to for next;)