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Separated my shoulder (A-C joint)(8 posts)

Separated my shoulder (A-C joint)vindicator
Jun 9, 2003 1:15 PM
Full tear of both ligaments, so it looks like I'll have a nice bumpy shoulder the rest of my life...

Anyone who's had this have any thoughts, stories, etc. about surgery or no, when/how to get back on the bike, etc.

I'll get more info from the orthopod on Wed. I certainly won't do anything before then, but my hope is to be on the trainer, or maybe a stationary recumbent at the club, within a week or so and then back on a real bike in (????) weeks.

Luckily, I'd already made my spring distance goals (the solo century and an organized cent.). I'd just done my first practice crit and finished fourth (after giving my two buddies a leadout, with them taking 1st and 3rd), so I'm bummed about missing my new Tuesday night fun for the next few weeks.
re: Separated my shoulder (A-C joint)boyd2
Jun 9, 2003 2:06 PM
I had an AC injury after a bad MTB wreck about 8 years ago. It was not bad enough to require surgery, but I remember that it hur pretty bad for about a year. I also could not do much with my arm when it was behind the plane of my sholder blades. I was able to start biking again pretty quickly.
I think the mountain bike board had a long thread on this...Silverback
Jun 9, 2003 2:13 PM
May have been here, but I think it was over there with the knuckledraggers maybe two or three weeks ago. It's a very common cycling injury (I did mine, a Grade 2, six or seven years ago), and a lot of people don't have surgery. I didn't--I spent a few days in a sling, then started a self-designed (probably not the best idea) physical therapy program that brought me back to full strength in several weeks. No problems since except for the bump on the shoulder (once you know what those look like, by the way, you'll start seeing them all over). I was only riding for fun at the time, not racing, so i didn't push and didn't pay any particular attention to how long it took. Depending on the severity, your orthopod will make a recommendation, but as I understand it there's generally no disadvantage to putting off the surgery--it's not going to get WORSE, and if it doesn't get better, then you have the operation.
re: Separated my shoulder (A-C joint)CurtSD
Jun 9, 2003 2:36 PM
I had a full tear about eight years ago. Had the surgery. I wasn't cycling at the time, so I can't provide any insight on how long til you're riding again - though I had a screw in my shoulder (through the acromion, into the clavical (sp??)) for about six weeks, and I couldn't raise my arm above shoulder height while it was in. So I'd assume it would be at least that long until you're back on the road. I think it was more like 12 weeks until the ligaments fully healed.
Lumpy shoulderTWD
Jun 9, 2003 2:55 PM
Yep, I've got one of those too. Did it in a mtb crash about a year and a half ago down in Moab. A-C separation and broke the end of the clavicle to boot.

Funny thing was, it didn't really hurt to ride with it. I finished up the last hour and a half of the ride after my crash, then did another 4 hours the next day. Just the weight of my arm hanging there while walking around was just about unbearable though. I never did stop riding, since it didn't hurt at all on the bike unless really pulling hard on the bars out of the saddle.

The family doctor did an x-ray when I got back from the trip. Said he could give me a sling if I wanted. Getting an appointment with the ortho surgeon took over 4 weeks. By then it had healed in it's new position. By that point, I had regained pretty much full strength and range of motion, so he said the surgury wasn't necessary unless it gave me continued pain. He said there was no downside to waiting, and having it done at a later date if need be.

So now, I've got the lump. It still hurts at times, if I lean on my elbow or sleep on my shoulder in the wrong position. Oh, and every time I crash on the MTB I alwasy seem to fall on that shoulder for good measure.

Your case may be different, but I don't see why you couldn't sit on a trainer and pedal with your arm in a sling (aside from the normal mental health aspects of riding indoors).

re: Separated my shoulder (A-C joint)katie1
Jun 10, 2003 5:26 AM
I'm sorry to hear about your injury. Back on March 8 of this year, I had a nasty crash that resulted in a grade 2 AC separation. I won't lie, it sucked. I wore a sling for 3 days. When I went to see my orthopod, he told me to lose the sling. In fact, he sent me to physical therapy the next day. I went to PT for a month. It was worth it! I had another friend who did the same thing a few months earlier and she doesn't have full range of motion and a lot of pain.

As far as the pain goes, the first 2 weeks were the worst but it slowly (I stress slow) got better. I took a lot of ibuprofen, used heating pads and occasionally used the Percocet.

7 days after the crash, I started riding the trainer. It hurt to lean on the bars with my bad arm but I could work out. At the 3 week mark, I timidly hit my first social ride. I found I could ride comfortably for 2-3 hours but was unable to stand while climbing. I kept riding with the approval of my MD of course. At the 5 week mark, I hit my first RR. Crits and mtn biking were prohibited until 8 weeks. This injury is common with football players and they are usually back in 3-4 games.

Final result, a bumpy shoulder with some road rash scars. I have full strength and full range of motion. I still have some achiness to it when it rains.

If you have a grade 3 separation, surgery is controversial.
3rd degree AC sep 1998PaulCL
Jun 10, 2003 6:12 AM
I didn't have surgery..but I have a lovely lump.

I went the physical rehab route. I went to a physical therapist about 6 months after the accident - after I realized I couldn't rehab it myself. They gave me about a half dozen simple exercises to do on a daily basis. Within 6 weeks, my then very weak shoulder was 75% of normal. Pre PT, on a bench press, I couldn't lift 15lbs off my chest with the affected arm. Six weeks later, I was doing reps of over 100lbs. Now..I do reps of up to 200lbs...but that's another story.

My accident happened the last weekend of May of 1998. I was off the bike for about 6 weeks. Part of the problem was getting parts to repair my bike after the wreck. It hurt like hell to ride the rest of that year. That's what prompted me to go to PT.

Happy to help. Good luck. Paul
re: Separated my shoulder (A-C joint)brian n
Jun 10, 2003 6:23 AM
I had a similar experience exactly 3 weeks ago. I crashed hard on the velodrome after a sprint and broke my helmet and popped my shoulder out (partial dislocation). I have a history of a weak left shoulder, lots of problems with it as a pitcher in a former lifetime and also had the same accident on a mtn bike 6 years ago. I saw the doctor, and since I didn't do any damage to the actual bones, he told me to take a bunch of advil and keep stretching it. It was about a week before I got on my bike, 2 weeks before I started doing training crits, and tonight I'm back to competition on the velodrome. Fun. My shoulder still hurts a good bit, but riding isn't so bad.

I should say that I had full range of assisted motion in the arm (if you picked it up and moved it), but by itself I couldn't pick it up past my shoulder. Holding it straight out I couldn't pick it up past about 45 degrees (from just hanging by my side).