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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.
 

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I pulled my arm out years ago and did nothing about it for 3.5 years (I was broke!) and finally got it fixed last September. I had my labrum reattached in a few stops, my biceps tendon cut and reattached lower down and a bone spur ground down. When I went into Doctor last spring and explained to him my injury, he did not even have to look at x-rays to know surgery was a must. Started out as a $22k surgery and ended up being $47k. My shoulder was toast!!! Rehab can do wonders but if it's bad or you wait years it will just get worse and worse. How did you do it?

I used my bum arm for years doing almost everything except could not reach overhead without it coming out. When you are swimming through some nasty rapid an arm out of socket is a bitch! I could always rotate arm over head and it would slide back in but everythin time I popped it out it would stay out longer and longer. You should have seen me try to throw a ball.


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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. I can no longer throw a baseball like a man, and my throw bag toss will have to be side arm or underhand from now on.

I was told surgery would be in the range of $12,000 for my injury, plus whatever insurance covers. Seams like surgery is the only option. I am hoping the pain will be more bearable as I get used to it, and I will just live with this handicap.

:sad::-(
 

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Surgery is your only option if you want to whitewater kayak. It will not heal on its own. The surgery sucks, but it works. Just do it.
 

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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.

Good luck!
 

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I was told by my surgeon that I didn't necessarily need surgery, but I would always run the risk of my shoulder popping in and out of socket.... I had mine done by Dr Millett at Steadman and never looked back. Not cheap, but worth every penny. I have four little scars that you wouldn't know were there if I didn't point them out. If you do it, STICK WITH THE REHAB! Good luck.
 

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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.

Good luck!
This is literally the same story as me. Get it fixed like he said! I waited and it got much worse!
 

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Rehab. And accept that you will not paddle this year. Wait until you are 100% healed. I wish I had.
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.
 

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Not what I wanted to read. I have been having impingement pain for the last 1.5 years. Swimming and surfing seem to be OK, but paddling a raft makes it hurt like hell. I keep telling myself that it is not an issues. Ice, Arnica, Advil will take care of it. But now am starting to wonder if to many years of body abuse and not enough r/r is taking its toll. Will have to go see a Dr. in the next few weeks.
 

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By all means have it checked out, but if you're still able to swim, surf etc. and aren't experiencing a lot of subluxation you might be good to go with some rehab.
 

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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.
 

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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.
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.
 

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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.
:sad::-(
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.
 

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Another recommendation for Steadman Clinic. Had a SLAP tear surgery in August and was able to paddle the Futa in January. That was a few years back and I still stick with the shoulder exercises to keep it strong.
 

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Another vote for getting it looked at and fixed.
I hurt mine first with a fall while skiing. I denied it, and used Vitamin I (Ibuprofen) when it hurt. A year later I slipped while carrying a heavy load and attempted to use that arm to brace the fall, and hurt it bad enough that I had it looked at. A partial tear is more prone to further injury.
I had mine fixed, and while at it the doc did the the bicep muscle upgrade.
Yes, the recovery hurts. Yes, the rehab is a necessary pain. Yes, I would do it all over again- only sooner based on my results.

The interesting thing is my range of motion is greater on the repaired shoulder than the other - mostly due to religious rehab.
 

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I've had labrum repairs on both shoulders. First one was popping out all time so surgery was a must after a year of initial injury. Other one just progressively got worse over time. It became too painful to sleep so I went in for round 2. So worth it. Don't suffer. Get the surgery if you want to keep paddling.
 

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I have two SLAP tears, obviously one in each shoulder. Overuse in the left from guiding and paddling, right torn after a wipe out surfing and having my shoulder yanked while holding onto an 8.5" board when the next wave came through.
The right shoulder was super painful for many months. I finally had an MRI at Steadman Hawkins and met with Dr. Hackett. He told me that surgery was a sure fix, however, he suggested rehabbing it slowly as an alternative. His feeling was, that unless I was using my shoulder in an activity that involved an overhead throwing motion (football/baseball) then strengthening the muscles and tendons around the ligament could work.
Six years later, no surgery, and I still kayak, raft guide all summer, swim, and surf. My right shoulder will sublux on occasion with a bad roll, and it will hurt for a few days to a week.
I was happy with the advice I received from Dr. Hackett, and if surgery is needed, I know many guides/kayakers who have had him preform their surgery.
I wouldn't hesitate to set up an appointment with him, have an MRI, have it read, then come up with a plan. I thought I was going to have my third surgery in as many years, and I am happy with my decision to hold off.
Good luck.
 
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