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Old 10-21-2003   #1
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Lyons, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
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Shoulder Injury revisited (need orthopedic/boater advice)

I was injured three months ago at Deer Creek on Bailey. I've been doing PT for 2 months with a presumed Dx of supraspinatus tear/strain. My pain did not resolve so I had an MRI done with the diagnosis of a SLAP tear (small) and biceps tendonosis. Another month has passed and no improvement. I was told by my orthopedist (Lynn Voss) to lift wieghts that don't hurt and kayak class II. I've been doing the former and kayaked Shoshone once last week. No problems or pain on the river, I actually felt like I might have had some more range of motion but in retrospect think that might have been endorphins after the run that dissapated shortly thereafter. My shoulder is even more sore these days and no improvement on range of motion since the injury. I think I should get surgery to scope the joint and make repairs any advice from boaters would help. I do not want to miss the spring run off. I've started hand paddling and have heard this works well for folks with injured shoulders. I prefer the paddle. One other thing does anyone know a shoulder specialist that understands a kayakers injuries or one that has a tremendous reputation? Thanks Matt

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Old 10-21-2003   #2
Join Date: Oct 2003
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I can highly recommend Dr. Paul Abbott, a Vail ortho. Fixed my shoulder as well as those of friends. He commented to me in my first consultation, "Ah, kayaking, the destroyer of shoulders." After some discussion about whether the surgery was necessary, I decided to get it done, and am very happy. Sounds like a different problem (mine was a typical Bankhart), and if you are on the front range, I'm sure you can find specialists there. Good luck.


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Old 10-21-2003   #3
kelly spooner
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shoulder injury

Hi, I just read your email. Im a kayaker/physical therapist/paramedic and also happen to have dislocated my shoulder about 2 years ago kayaking. Im not sure from your email if you dislocated your shoulder, but a SLAP tear is generally the result of a dislocation. I would suggest going to see a specialist to at least get a consult. The two best shoulder specialist in this area are Dr. Hawkins at the Steadman Hawkins Clinic, and Dr. Abbott at Vail Sports Medicine and Orthopedics. You need to be specific about your goals with these physicians, let them know the single most important thing is that you are able to kayak in the spring. Im not sure about the degree of instability of your shoulder, but keep in mind, surgery may not be your best option. When I dislocated my shoulder, I gave it about 3 months of strict rest. I did passive range of motion excercises only until it was totally painfree, and then progressed. The key is to always remain painfree. I now am able to kayak, and have never dilocated my shoulder again. I also have a SLAP tear. Most surgeons will probably suggest rest and PT unless you severely debilitated by the pain, or you are a chronic dilocator. Surgery is not a quick fix, you could be looking a much longer road in rehab. If you have any more questions, you can email me at kellyspooner676@hotmail.com. I can also suggest some great physical therapists for shoulders.
Kelly Spooner
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Old 10-21-2003   #4
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Dr. Faulk at Woodridge Orthopedic (Lutheran Hospital) should be helpful. He is also the team doctor for many sports teams in the metro area- He repaired my destroyed knee. In the southwest area of the state Dr.Patricia Chamberland in Gunnison does a wonderful job on shoulders (she did another knee surgery of mine) and works with athletics at western state college and Crested Butte Mountain. The Vail orthopedic surgeons are overrated! If neither of these Dr.s can perform the neccessary evaluation at least contact them for recommendations in your area.

and GoodLuck (Surgery sucks)
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Old 10-21-2003   #5
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I separated my shoulder in 97 and stopped kayaking for a couple of years, but after moving to CO I couldn't resist. I did some PT but I didn't give it a 100% effort so to speak. Sure enough I started separating/dislocating my shoulder more and more regularly. I was blowing out my shoulder about once a week and had to find an alternative. I tried a stricter regiment of PT but I was beyond that as I was told by several doctors. I would give PT a chance but if you don't stick with PT and stick with kayaking start talking to surgeons. You are fortunate that there are some great surgeons in the area. I was told by some to go with Paul because you won't be a number as you might be with Steadman Hawkins. And Steadman Hawkins may have an inflated reputation however the US Ski Team, the Denver Broncos, and countless professional athletes from around the world don't think so. I worked at a local hotel and shuttled many famous athletes to and from their clinic. You have the opportunity to have your shoulder done by the best shoulder people possibly in the world. It's your shoulder though and good luck. By the way mine is like nothing happened in the first place.
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Old 10-21-2003   #6
Join Date: Oct 2003
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I totally agree with double-a-ron: surgery sucks. But other than a couple of weeks of pain (not insignificant pain, by any means) and the expected rehabilitation, your shoulder can be almost as good as the one you were born with. My left is just as strong as my right (dominant) shoulder now. I finally have a real left side brace because I'm not worried about dislocating. I used to prefer a quick roll to leaning on my paddle.

As for the vail surgeons being overblown, I totally disagree. Like George noted, the top athletes in the world disagree with that statement.

That said, I still say call Paul Abbott before Steadman. This guy has fixed alot of shoulders and has an incredible success rate. My main paddling parter did a full reconstruction (bankhart and broken clavicle tip) in early spring this year with Abbott (end of March), and was in Dowd chute before peak runoff.

Whatever you decide, if you want to fix it, good luck. It sucks to go through, but if you have chronic problems, you can get rid of them in 2 months.

(my 4 or 5 cents)
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Old 10-21-2003   #7
pnw, Washington
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Good luck with your shoulder but I will give you full kudos for actually injuring yourself in a legitimate rapid. I keep messing myself up in the wimpest places.
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Old 10-22-2003   #8
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Tyler is absolutely right.

I had Dr. Paul Abbott (Vail/Summit Ortho) do surgery on my shoulder a couple years ago for a gaper supraspinatus tear. I went with him because his success rate is 98% with that type of surgery. Two years later, my shoulder is about 99% - I have all my strength back, but lost a tiny bit of range of motion. My friend Rob also had shoulder surgery with Dr. Abbott with great results. He is the one to go with. Before the surgery, I couldn't even hang by my arm or pour from a jug of milk - last week I did nine pull-ups. Nothing to brag about, but indicative of the usefulness of the surgery.

A tear like that will not heal on its own. I did about 6 months of rehab before I finally broke down and went under the knife. It was well worth it. A few days after surgery, I was hit by a car while crossing (in the crosswalk with a 'walk' signal) Broadway at Arapahoe in Boulder. Luckily, my shoulder was ok...they typically stick titanium screws in the humerus and sew the tendons back in place...a bomber approach.

My afore-mentioned friend Rob tore out his surgical implants while skiing too soon...so don't push it. Lay low on it for a while and let it heal. Shoulders are not highly vascular areas with little blood flow, so they take a long time to heal. Good luck...I know how you feel.

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross"- Sinclair Lewis
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Old 10-24-2003   #9
Join Date: Oct 2003
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peter Weingarten is a kayaker and an ortho in Denver

Peter has been paddling for years (with Walt Blackadar even) and is an orthopedic sugeon in Denver. Not sure what his practice is called, but might find him in the phone book. I'm on a road trip right now, but I can find the contact info next week if you want.


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