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Ouch! Grade II AC separation, any experiences?(16 posts)

Ouch! Grade II AC separation, any experiences?katie1
Mar 13, 2003 3:47 PM
I crashed hard this weekend at the Dividing Waters RR in SC. I think I was going between 30-35 mph downhill when I hit a pothole, lost control, hit some gravel and flew off my bike. The sequence of events is blurry but I landed on my left shoulder. I managed to remove considerable amounts of flesh off my back and left butt cheek. I must have rolled around because I managed to get my right side as well. The shoulder hurts the worst. I saw an orthopedist yesterday. He said I have grade II AC separation. The plan is rest and rehab. He deals with athletes so he expects I'll be riding soon but back to normal will take a while. My clavicle (collarbone) will permanently protrude. Ugly on girl, huh?

My bike faired pretty well. Go Litespeed! Titanium does rule!!! I scuffed up my bar tape, shifters and rear derailleur. I replaced some cables that took a beating and had to true both Ksyrium wheels. I did manage to take part of Speedplay pedal with me in flight (part of it was lodged in my cleat). All replaceable parts.

Overall, I think I was lucky. The moral of this story...wear your helmet!!!! Mine has a nice dent in it. I remember hearing my head hit but never felt it. I would probably be dead or brain damaged without it.

Anyway, if anyone has had this, can they please share their experiences with it? How long will it be before I can ride, climb, race again? Right now the dr. says 4-6 weeks. I hurt too much this week to even consider the trainer but he gave me the green light on that already. Thanks.
re: Ouch! Grade II AC separation, any experiences?Sharkman
Mar 13, 2003 4:02 PM
I have considerable experience with shoulder injuries and surgeries. Grade III A/C separation in high school, required sugery, out 12 weeks and it was six months after that before I was close to 100%.

Yours does not sound that bad, plus they have changed protocol on A/C separations and no longer do surgery except in extreme cases. I had to go back for a second surgery 30 years after the original injury to decompress the joint. I was 49 at the time. What I was able to do almost immediately after the surgery was climb stairs on a stairmaster. No impact to jar the shoulder, no danger, it worked just fine.

The Doc told me I healed faster from that surgery than anyone he had ever seen, and that at age 49. I attribute that to the stairmaster, as I got my blood moving fast immediately and kept doing so daily. It's blood flow that promotes healing after all.

Try stairs if you can. The movement is close to cycling, so it will help with you bike fitness. It will also help with healing.

Good luck

I've done a III and a breakDougSloan
Mar 13, 2003 4:10 PM
Same thing, except mine was a Grade III (all the ligaments), and another time break. Concussions both times, and lots of skin missing.

After the separation, I got the surgery about a week later, where they go in and tie the bones together. Very, very painful surgery and recovery. But, I was riding a trainer a week later, on the road a week after that, and then did the 155 mile Climb to Kaiser 8 weeks after the surgery. You might at least ask your orthopod about the surgery, as it can possibly make a difference in whether you dislocate things on down the road.

A year later, I broke the same side clavicle. The "string" they put in during surgery held up. The break was sort of scary looking, but the separation I thought was far more painful, and took longer to recover.

While I won't tell you to ignore you doctor, I did. I got on the trainer as soon as I could, with one arm. Then, I got on the road, but was very careful. I did hurt (forgot, I had broken ribs, too) when I hit bumps. Don't do any group rides until you are back to 100%, though.

Lots of people get this. It's an inherent risk in the sport.

Just do what you can when it feels ok to train again.

I had a very mild one last falllonefrontranger
Mar 13, 2003 4:10 PM
Compliments of a nice scary crit crash that was entirely my fault. Basically what my Dr. said was I was lucky my collarbone broke (lucky?) because if it hadn't the AC separation would have been worse, and soft tissue healing in that area is a bear.

That being said, the bone healed up a lot faster than even my mild AC separation. At 4 weeks, I raced in another crit. It hurt, but was bearable. At 8 weeks I started developing shoulder pain, numbness and the beginning signs of "frozen shoulder" syndrome, which is only exacerbated by my daytime MO as a desk jockey.

The moral of my story is: hie thee to a good physical therapist / trainer and do the therapy religiously. Mine happens to not only be my teammate, but also a professional personal trainer. She gave me quite a few Theraband-type workouts for rotator cuff problems. Not only did they do the trick, but I have less shoulder and neck pain now than I've ever had either sitting at the desk or riding my bike. I'm stronger now than I've ever been - I can even actually put weight plates on the bench press bar now - and do more than one rep!

Ugly lump? Puhleazze. You should see the Aliens (keloid scars) on my shoulder and elbow, my malformed left forearm with the 8" surgery scars and the big knot on my right collarbone. All compliments of a decade bike racing. I'll tell you a little secret, too. Dudes (or at least any dudes who matter to me) DIG chicks with scars. I never fail to get a conversation started with some guy at a bike race when I wear one of my cute little spaghetti-strap tops that shows off all my war wounds.

My advice is to get back on the bike and back into group riding situations as soon as you and the doctor agree is feasible. IME your psyche will take a bit longer to heal than your bod.

Good luck!
No surgery for grade IIkatie1
Mar 13, 2003 6:21 PM
They don't routinely do surgery for my condition, only grade III +. I have pretty good use of the arm but it hurts like hell doing certain things. The most troublesome complaint is the pressure I have on the shoulder. There is still swelling in that area (it is going down). Also the muscles are knotted up from twisting in odd ways. Not pleasurable.

I had my first rehab appt today. She essentially put electrical impulse thingies on me and heat. Then I got a massage. After that, we started some joint exercises but since I am only 6 days out we are not doing much. Today wasn't too bad. I'm determined to be racing by May and ready for Mt. Mitchell. I was just curious how realistic that goal was. Hopefully this weekend, I can get on the trainer for a while.

I hate feeling like an invalid and asking folks to do things. Hell, I can't even put on a t-shirt because it hurts too much to get it off. Sucks! Now I know how old people feel.
How's this for sexy?katie1
Mar 13, 2003 6:27 PM
My poor collarbone
Mar 13, 2003 6:33 PM
I meant to choose the smaller image. Sorry. Computer challenged. It is my left shoulder (the one above the date).
Beautiful skin, definitely a girl: looks good to me! (nm)teamsloppy
Mar 13, 2003 9:16 PM
Where's the rest of the pic?speedisgood
Mar 13, 2003 9:32 PM
That there's what we call a positive "piano key" sign. The ligaments of the AC joint break or stretch and up goes the clavicle! My advice is to ice a lot (20-30 min. at a time), take NSAIDs (naproxen, ibuprofen, etc., NOT Tylenol), and consider wearing a sling for comfort (takes the stress off the joint.)
Where's the rest of the pic?katie1
Mar 14, 2003 4:42 AM
I look like I'm about to cry...not very flattering so all you get is the shoulder.

It actually feels better out of a sling. The act of keeping it across my chest stretches something pulled. The doc said no sling since it hurts more. I have been using ice. I tried heat last night. Wow, that felt so good. It loosened up my back muscles that are so tight. I felt like a new person. :)

My goal tomorrow is to ride the trainer. Think I can last an hour? I hate the trainer. I have problem staying on it "well" that long. At least it looks rainy/ overcast in Atlanta this weekend.
Hope you are doing better.Freewheelers
Mar 14, 2003 5:27 AM
I spoke with you right after your race when you were talking to one of my teammates (Shannon). Thanks for alerting me to that pothole. Anyway, I hope you are starting to feel a bit better. I had a classII separation in college. It took a little while before I started feeling like I could use a lot of force with my arm. Eventually I just forgot about it. I don't notice it anymore unless it gets jarred in a crash. You shouldn't have any trouble on the trainer. If you are really hurting ride the trainer with no hands and just sit upright. Take it easy and make your comeback only when you feel ready. Looking at that descent...I am very impressed that was all that happened to you.
Hope you are doing better.katie1
Mar 14, 2003 7:18 AM
Yeah, I was lucky. It still sucks. Which one were you? The day is kind of blurry other than repeating "F**K". I let Rich Hincapie know I wasn't pleased about it. Hitting the pothole made me angry, but no first aid really ticked me off. He said they can't afford it.

How did you do?
Hope you are doing better.Freewheelers
Mar 14, 2003 9:22 AM
I was in the Freewheelers of Spartanburg jersey(navy blue, red and white). I placed 15th. Tough ride. Rich is a good race promoter with what he has to promote with. He doesn't get tons of support for the Spring Series so he makes due wherever he can. I do agree that first aid would have been a good thing for you. Perhaps they will implement that down the road. I hope you recover quickly. I am sure we'll cross paths at a race somewhere down the road.
heck yeah!sacheson
Mar 14, 2003 6:52 AM
two years ago I separated it in a crit ... it is still weaker, and sometimes if I'm lifting heavy things above my head it will give out. It pretty much sucks.

If you get any PT suggestions from the doc, do them ... I didn't (or didn't consistently, that is) and I think it's a pretty large contributor to my current status.
hot tub helps, tooDougSloan
Mar 14, 2003 6:56 AM
I forgot. I spent a lot of time in the hot tub with jets directly on my shoulder. That really helped to relax the muscles, and I felt much better.

re: Ouch! Grade II AC separation, any experiences?Sadlebred
Mar 14, 2003 1:26 PM last spin class in Decatur next Thursday if you are interested. 2 hours of me.