Separated Shoulder – PT

On August 21, 2014 I went for Physical Therapy for the first time for my shoulder. My PT is Stephen Sheridan from North Shore Physical Therapy.

After going over the injury and what happened, we discussed what I was doing right now. It was at that point he said I should put the sling back on for at least another week. When I had left the Orthopedic I was under the impression that I didn’t need to be in the sling anymore. That may have been an assumption on my part, but when the Dr. tells you that you can go run or ride your bike you kind of assume that you don’t need the sling anymore.

So, I have the sling back for this week. Steve also gave me a few exercises to do. Pretty much just to keep range of motion, as he still wants to let the healing process continue.

After leaving PT I felt like I still had a lot of questions in my head. Back to the what would be going on if I was Tom Brady? Would I have had surgery? This kind of set me off on a quest to find answers on the internet. Kelly found a lot of information from people who have had similar injuries on forums. Not surprisingly they were mostly people that did not have surgery and seemed to rehab themselves. Not exactly what I was looking for.

I did a search on Dr. James Andrews, after all, every Pro sports athlete that has had an injury has seen him. Turns out that he has seen a few Pro football QBs that have had this injury and his advice to them was no surgery, at least not until you have given Physical Therapy a chance to work.

This finally put my mind at ease. I just needed to know that I wasn’t being treated like some guy on the couch eating potato chips and drinking beer and that I would still be able to do those things. That to me, was not going to fly. I needed to know that I would be returning to at or close to what I was before the injury occurred. I finally feel like that is the course I’m on.

I will say that I’m not happy with having this bump on my shoulder. I’m surprised that with the technology that we have today the best you can get from a shoulder separation is a Clavicle that sticks up in the air unless you opt for surgery that doesn’t always seem to work….


Shoulder Separation – The Orthopedic

On August 18th, 2014 I went to see Dr. Brandon Earp at Brigham and Women’s. She specializes in hand, elbow and shoulder injuries and had operated on my friend Brian’s hand. I was fortunate enough to get an appoint the first day I was back from vacation.

At this point I really wanted to know what the process is for getting my shoulder healed and returning to normal life. Normal life for me that is.

I went in early to get more X-Rays taken. This time they took them in for different directions. One from behind, I was actually facing the floor and the X-Ray machine was facing down. Another from the front and two more from the front but at different angles.

Kelly met me just as I was going into see the Dr. I’m not really sure what I was expecting to hear because I hadn’t done a lot of research on the internet, mostly because you just don’t know what you are going to see out here and what you can trust. In my mind I was prepared to have surgery if necessary and get on with the healing process.

Dr. Earp came in and took a look at the X-Rays and did a quick exam to see what kind of strength I had and range of motion. When she was done she said that she recommended no surgery at this time and to let it heal. She immediately could see that I was skeptical and went on to explain that the majority of Grade 3 separations are allowed to heal without surgery. They only issue is the bump where the Clavicle is now sticking up. That never goes away.

She said there was no difference between having the surgery now and waiting to have the surgery a year from now. I was still pretty skeptical because I just could not understand how my shoulder is going to function properly if all the pieces are not in their proper place. Again she explained how the scar tissue would form where the old ligaments had been and I would be able to build strength and range of motion through Physical Therapy.  She said that I could probably run and bike if it wasn’t too painful, but should probably hold off on the swimming.

She wrote me a prescription for PT and had me schedule a followup with her in 4 to 6 weeks. My follow up appointment with Dr. Earp will be at the end of September. After I left I still had so many questions that I just didn’t think of when I was sitting there.

The biggest question I had wished I asked was, “What if I was Tom Brady?, would you be recommending surgery or just PT?” That is really the question I wish I had asked. What would you tell someone who depends on their throwing arm for making a living?


Separated Shoulder

On August 9th, 2014 the family took a vacation down to Ocean City, MD. The drive down took a little over 8 hours and traffic really wasn’t bad at all. Waze had us go over the George Washington on the way down through NY. We arrived around 4 o’clock unpacked and walked over to the beach.

All the kids were in the water having a good time, riding the waves in. Kelly was in and said I should go get my bathing suit and come in. I ran back up and put my suit on to join them. Body surfed in on a couple of waves. Then it happened. Took a wave in and kind of got turned a little bit and my shoulder hit the ground. Only my shoulder hit the ground and I felt something pop.

When I sat up on the beach feeling my shoulder I knew immediately that something was seriously wrong. I could feel my collar bone in a place that it did not belong. I didn’t know at first if it was broken or what was wrong. I lifted my arm feeling the bone and felt it pop back into place.  That was the end of my swimming for vacation. I went back up to the condo and took a shower and decided I needed to go to the hospital to have it checked out. I needed to know what was wrong and how to fix it.

My first thought when my shoulder hit and I felt the pop was how am I going to swim 10k in Bermuda? Then I thought about the Call To Honor Triathlon and Century Rides I had signed up for.

Kelly brought me to the emergency room and they took an X-Ray, that you can see below.

Grade 3 Separated Shoulder
Grade 3 Separated Shoulder

Turns out that it was a Grade 3 Separation of my shoulder. They gave me a sling, some pain medication and sent me on my way. The only other advice was to make an appointment with an Orthopedic when I got home.