Shoulder Surgery – 5 1/2 weeks in

Shouler and Upper Torso Muscles

Shouler and Upper Torso Muscles

Last time I talked about the significant strides I was making in recovery from Open Bankart Shoulder surgery on my right arm. Those strides only continued through week four into week five. Week five proved to be one of some major accomplishments. I recovered from my previous set backs and just before my five week visit to my orthopedist was able to move my arm to 128 degrees. With that, I visited my orthopedic surgeon who was pleased with my progress. The exam was fairly quick. He checked my forward and back rotation (he was pretty shocked when I reach upward and backward without pain). He checked my external rotation (about 1 degree, which is good without pain at five weeks).

The surgeon than issued my updated physical therapy (PT) prescription and sent me on my way. He’s going to see me in another six weeks on 1/4/10 for my twelve week visit. That should be my final post operation visit if all goes well. The new PT prescription added external rotation (think making a chicken wing flapping motion with your arm or reaching out to your side to grab a drink– both are external rotations) along with strength training that is to commence on this Wednesday (12/2/09). Three weeks after that point (9 weeks or 12/16/09) additional stretching and strength training are added to intensify the final stages of healing and muscle regeneration.

With that I went off to therapy where after intense massages on the shoulder I was able to reach upward while laying down to 140. This is near full rotation and I had to fight through pain to pull it off, but I did pull it off.

PT Performing 140 Plus Rotation Upward

PT Performing 140 Plus Rotation Upward

The next three sessions including today’s built on continued upward stretching past 140 degrees. The PT session after my five week post op also introduced a change to my exercise routine. I now do two minutes and thirty seconds of circular pendulum swings (clockwise and counter clock wise each direction), two minutes and thirty seconds of side to side pendulum swing, and finally two minutes and thirty seconds of forward/back pendulum swings. This was to allow more rotation of my still irritated humerus head and add more range of motion to my work out. I still continue to do the shoulder shrugs, shoulder circles, bicep curl, neck stretches, and external elbow rotations.

The following PT sessions (11/18 and 11/20) continued those excercises. I noticed that on 11/20 I was starting to feel stiffer than normal. That stiffness increased until 11/23 where the PT treated it with electric stimulation of the arm while being iced. This seemed at first to only irate the situation, but about an hour later when I thawed I noticed I did feel better and had near normal range of painless motion with no external reaching.

The subsequent 11/25 PT session also involved light stretching and more e-stim while icing. Again, about an hour later my stiffness was nearly 100% gone.  I felt so good in fact I was able to go out and sit through dinner without issue (sans sling) or pain. Thanksgiving weekend also went without a hitch and I was even able to put up Christmas decorations.

I had one minor instance this past Friday (11/27) where standing up I pulled my back out slightly. The following day I fought through my PT sessions and took some Aleve to mitigate the pain. By 11/29 though I felt nearly 90% better. Today I notice no lingering issues from that pull.

I noticed this morning I could wash my hair almost normally with my right arm though at an arguably slower pace than normal. Driving is also easier as is eating. I’m also seeing noticeable increase in right arm bicep strength as I continue to use the arm.

Today’s PT session rotated me to about 145 degrees (my limit where pain sets in) where I had to grimace through the grade six plus pain to allow the muscles to stretch. We’re trying to overcome that final upper limit and remove the pain. Only by stretching through the pain can that happen. So you basically just have to deal with it. My back muscles were less sore than in the past and the scar tissue only when really pressed upon exhibits soreness. The swelling is completely gone and there is no bruising anywhere any more.

All-in-all I feel about 45% better and seemingly continue to get better everyday. This Wednesday will be my six week mark where the chance of dislocation and infection drops significantly. Once I breach that point I can then begin strength training and that’s where the real work will begin. For now though, I’m enjoying painless and near normal living.


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