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Old 06-05-2006   #1
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 42
Dislocated Shoulder --- need advice / info

Hello all,

I dislocated my right shoulder on the Poudre last weekend. Despite being an extremely painful experience, the fallout of this injury is seemingly turning to the worse. Everyone who asks me "what happened" has a story about when they tore their shoulder out or a story of a spouse, brother, mother, etc. who did.

What is scary to me is that almost everyone has said that their shoulder was never the same again and that they had to give up skiing and other activities because of the injury. One lady told me she gave up skiing because every time she fell on her left arm, her shoulder would pop out again.

My question is has anyone else dislocated their shoulder while kayaking (or while doing anything else) and was able to make a full recovery (without surgery.) The surgeon who looked me over on Friday said that I was lucky in that I didn't do much damage to the muscles in the area and that I wouldn't need surgery. I do, however, need to be in a splint for 6 weeks and then will need to undergo rehabilitation. I am getting increasingly more worried after talking to people that I won't ever be able to kayak or ski again because all it will take is one fall on my arm while on the slopes or one wrong paddle stroke on the water and I will be re-living this misery again.

Any advice or information would be helpful.

Thanks in advance,


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Old 06-05-2006   #2
Durango, Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 390
Can't say this will help much with paddling, but a close friend of mine has chronic shoulder dislocations (he's popped it out well over 100 times). He wears a brace when skiing that limits his range of motion, enough to where it won't pop out, but he can still pole plant. He says that since he started wearing the brace he hasn't had a dislocation while skiing.

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Old 06-05-2006   #3
CUkayakGirl's Avatar
303, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 301
early last year my buddy dislocated his shoulder doing a hand roll and after rehab he was fine. He has never told me it has been a problem paddling again. The doc also said he was lucky and didn't need maybe it just depends how badly you tear it up.
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Old 06-05-2006   #4
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Summit, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 2,085
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Check out Jim Garrick's "Everybody's Sports Medicine." It's an excellent book I use for skiing, kayaking, etc. I know Jim and he is a superb doctor and has been one of the leading sports medicine specialists since the 50's and 60's. It has a great should recovery routine (for once you're out of a sling) and has a plethora of other useful information. Good luck.

"The world would be a better place if everyone kayaked."-Brad Ludden (Valhalla)
"You only get one chance to run a drop blind."-DD
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Old 06-05-2006   #5
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 19
This sport is too friggin' cool to sit around nursing a broken wing. My advise is don't fret the surgery if you can afford it. I've dislocated both my right and left shoulders and only after having the anthroscopic procedure have I regaind full (we're talkin' 110% baby!) stability, stregnth, and confidence in my wings.
Rehab is a piece of cake, plus you'll have plenty of narcs left over to share with you're friends.
It only took one winter, two surgerys, and three months, and I was ready for the next run-off. Go big...Go BIONIC!
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Old 06-05-2006   #6
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,032
Sorry to hear about your injury. No medical training, but from what I've gathered the shoulder is a very unstable joint and once you've dislocated it, it's much more likely to dislocate again. The degree to which it does depends on ligament and other damage that occurred during the dislocation. Sounds like your prognosis may be good. A rest followed by a good consistent strengthing program may give you good results.

I think your choice is not: can I ski and paddle again, but do I need surgery or not to ski and paddle again. And you'll have to weigh the importance of shoulder stability against risks of surgery. I can tell you if I had dislocated my shoulder 100 times like the guy mentioned above, I'd be in the operating room.

I would suggest finding an orthopedist that you feel comfortable with and is willing to spend some time talking with you about the two options. Talk to him very specifically about your athletic goals - make it clear that your goals extend beyond painting the fence and mowing the lawn. Don't be afraid to get several opinions. It's an awfully important decision.

I think you know the conservative option: Rest it, work like crazy to strengthen it, start playing like you always have and see what happens. If it dislocates again, you've probably got your answer..

I sure wish there was more education and training oriented towards preventing dislocations when paddling. I try to keep my shoulders safe, but I know sometimes I throw dangerous braces.

Good luck.
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Old 06-05-2006   #7
Graphic Artist
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 3
I severley to the fullest degree dislocated my shoulder and tore just about everything off. I did opt to have arthroscopic surgery and it took about 1 year to feel like I could do most things with my shoulder and about 2 years before I can say it feels as good as it is going to get. The only thing I can't do with confidence is throwing overhand, like throwing a baseball or football. I can however still throw overhand it just seems to hurt some and I am very afraid of going 100% with it, other than that it is perfect. The more active I am, disc golf, kayaking, rock climbing, whatever the better my shoulder is because it is strong. When I am less active I seem to have more problems with it. You should be okay, but depending on the severity of it, I would suggest surgery, if not you will be dealing with another injury soon or it will just continue to pop out until you do have the surgery.
I do not do what I already know, but that of which I don't know with the intentions to learn it
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Old 06-05-2006   #8
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 19
KSC has a great point...definately research your options and be DAMN sure you get the right guy with the right experience if you decide to have surgery.
Two days before I had my first scheduled surgery a physical therapist friend told me she'd never even heard of the doctor I was about to have operate on me. That's some pretty scary shit when you stop to think about how tight the sports medicine community is around here.
Anyway, she recommened a doctor that turned out to be one of the guys that pioneered the anthroscopic procedure. All it took was a recomendation from my general practitioner, a letter to my insurance co., and I had one of the best surgeons in the country helping me through all this shit. Not only that, but after I was healed he invited me to go kayaking in Costa Rica with his family. Now that's one super-fly, TNT, mofo, mofo.
Point is, if you feel good about the situation, you'll love the results. Good luck! Hope you get back on the river soon.
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Old 06-05-2006   #9
Highlands Ranch, CO Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 482
Not sure if this will help, but here goes anyway.

I dislocated my shoulder over 100 times between skiing, boating and just about anything else like getting dressed or waking up.

2 years ago I went in for a Labrum repair and it was awesome.. I could raise my arm over my head and everything ( keep in mind it is the lttle things )
It was all great until thursday night I popped it out again.

Just got home from my doc and he just wants me to strenghten it on my own and see how it goes. I will probably stop boating for a bit until it gets strong again I figure maybe a month or so. Then I will start in easier water to get used to it again.

So in short the surgery I had was totally worth it, but unfortunately you don't get a warranty on it.

I bet if I would have stayed on the strength training regime I did for therapy this wouldn't have happened a second time.

That is good advice about getting the right doc. Mine doesn't spend a lot of time with me but he is super good.

If you have any questions PM me
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Old 06-05-2006   #10
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 405
I dislocated 6 years ago and never had surgery. It was an anterior dislocation and was out of socket for over 4 hours. My shoulder has never been the same, but also has not restricted my activities! I still kayak, ski, and bike. Sometimes when rolling on my off-side (especially during a combat situation where I'm not perfectly set up), it will sublexate and I get kind of freaked out. I do NOT want to dislocate again! Just keep your elbows down and do the rehab. If you get recurrent dislocations, deffinately consider surgery.

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