I was recently diagnosed with a SLAP tear in my shoulder. Wondering if surgery is the only option to get back on the river. Any insight appreciated.
This is literally the same story as me. Get it fixed like he said! I waited and it got much worse!Dang, sorry pal. That really sucks. SLAP tear is not good news. If that's for sure what it is (arthrogram is only way to truly diagnose and even then very skilled eyes are required to determine what's going on) you'll need surgery, and results are reportedly mixed. If you're relatively young and otherwise healthy you should be able to return to the rio, but don't mess around with your situation. I'll tell you my story with the hope that it will help you navigate this frustrating process.
I've had pain and impingement off and on for years. It finally got bad enough 1.5 years ago that I sought out a shoulder specialist. He gave me the usual scenario; PT and ibuprofen for a few months, come back for cortisone shots if not better, blah blah blah. After "not better" I went back and he expressed concern that I might have a SLAP tear and ordered an arthrogram. Two months later after looking at the results he diagnosed a rotator cuff tear of "around 50%" and said it was time to consider surgery but there was no hurry. That was last August. I went ahead and put it on the calendar for October and went paddling the following weekend when a swim resulting from stupidity at the top of the run dialed the pain and weakness to 11. I mentioned all this to a buddy and he told me to at least get a second opinion before I went ahead with a surgery I might not need. He gave me a name, I called and was there two days later.
The new doc looked at my arthrogram and showed me where the contrast dye had gone all the way through my shoulder which to him indicated full thickness tear. Then he said the magic words. "We need to get you paddling again". I scheduled surgery with him before I left (repaired full thickness tear, resected huge bursa and ground down bone spurs) and have been extremely pleased with the results. It's been an arduous process. Shoulder surgery requires the longest and most difficult recovery of any joint. I had it in September and am just now able to do pull ups with the aid of a resistance band. I can do one push up and regret it later. But, there are upper body things I can do carefully and I can row and paddle and am steadily getting better.
So, the morals of my story? Don't mess around with it. Don't hesitate to get multiple opinions if at all possible. If for any reason you're not happy with your provider, even if it's something intangible like bad vibes or "I just don't like him/her" (not necessarily anyone's fault), don't hesitate to seek out another if at all possible. You may find it's better or worse than previously thought and can adjust your treatment plan appropriately. It'll probably get worse before it gets better but it will get better. It's a long haul.
I got my done last sept between boating and skiing season. Was flyfishing in October and skiing end of Nov. I am still a bit tight but shoulder feels a thousand times stronger.Rehab. And accept that you will not paddle this year. Wait until you are 100% healed. I wish I had.
This is good to hear. I did a bunch of research (I call it Dr. Google) when doc number one thought I had a SLAP tear and everything I read heavily stressed management of expectations because prognosis for return to anything resembling normal was dicey. Sounds like that's an overly pessimistic approach.I'm a doc and I had mine done in 2004, 7 years after my first dislocation on the Gauley. With that said, if you have a labrum tear by MRI then your shoulder will always be less stable than it was before. The labrum plays a big part in shoulder stability. While I was able to paddle hard for 6-7 years after my first issue, I did suffer innumerable subluxations, the last of which was coming off Gorilla on the Green.
Following that last one I realized that rolling the dice on class 5 with a shitty shoulder wasn't the way to go. I went under the knife and haven't had an issue since.
With that said, surgery is not a 100% success rate for stability, and will fail in ~10% of patients. Talk to a good sport medicine surgeon, who specializes in the joint, to get the lowdown on the risks, benefits, and success rates.
My left SLAP tear happened two years ago snowboarding falling on my shoulder repeatedly. Surgery was recommended. I oped out and choose to build more muscle. My off side roll is so painful that I will go to the ends of earth to switch it up. Like dutch said, I paddle with a left side handicap and I don't believe surgery will change that for me. I'm too old. If I were younger and had 20 more years of paddling I think I'd go under the knife.I got a shoulder injury on my right side taking a fall skiing in moguls this past February. It hurts everyday,but the pain pretty bearable. The pain is worst when I try to sleep. I can still paddle and row a raft, but kayak paddling on my left side will be a handicap.