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Rotator Cuff Injury
by Gary F. Zeolla
This article is continued from Rotator Cuff Injury: Part Three.
Sling Struggles and Ending Rehab
I mentioned in my previous update that the surgeon said I could stop using the sling on my left arm as I felt comfortable. But I did not feel comfortable even trying for another week, until after six weeks post-op, which is how long I was originally told I needed to wear it. My arm and shoulder would hurt if I went without it at all before that.
But even after that, I only gradually started going without it. I started with not wearing it at night, while sleeping. Then I stopped wearing it while typing and went back to typing with both hands. That was a big relief, as it was really getting to be a drag typing with one hand. I was getting the hang of it, but it still slowed me down considerably. But it took a few more days to go back to using the mouse with my left hand.
Then I stopped wearing the sling while doing my exercises, both for my lower body and for my therapy exercises. The former was actually harder, as I was up to almost 100 bodyweight squats and deadlifts at this point. Having my arm hand downward that long was uncomfortable. But I needed to get used to it, so that when I began using empty dumbbell bars, I was used to it.
Then I stop wearing the sling around my home, and lastly when I went for my walks and when I showered afterwards. Altogether, it took me two weeks to wean myself off of the sling or until eight weeks post-op.
However, by that same time, it was becoming more and more problematic going to physical therapy (PT) due to my Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). I had now gone to PT for months, going back to before the surgery. The last time I went was Thursday, October 14, 2021, which was my sixth appointment post-op.
Afterwards, I felt horrible. That evening, through the night, the next morning and all day Friday, then into Saturday morning my Fibromyalgia and Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS) both flared up. I was in pain head to toe. Literally every muscle in my body hurt. I was also very stiff, barely able to walk, slept very little, and was fatigued all the next day. That is how I often feel when I go out, hence why before this whole ordeal I rarely left my home. But this time, I felt much worse than usual ad it lasted longer than usual, into Saturday morning.
However, I had lots to do on Friday, so I had to keep going, starting with doing a load of wash first think in the morning. It has been hard enough doing wash one-handed; but now, with barely being able to move and being in pain, it was horrendous. The same could be said for all that I had to struggle through the rest of the day.
That is when I knew I just could not go to PT anymore. Thus, over the weekend, I went over the “PT Protocol” the surgeon had given me at the first appointment post-op and which I had the rehab center copy. It laid out my PT protocol through 24 weeks post-op, indicating when I should do what exercises. I laid out my plan though that time on charts in MS Word as I always do for my workouts. That included the exercises PT already had me doing and adding in exercises as the protocol indicated.
I called the rehab place on Monday and canceled my two remaining appointments. I talked to the therapist. My regular therapist had not been there two of the previous three appointment, so they really were not that productive anyway, as the substitutes did not understand my situation or progress plan. Thus, I had been somewhat on my own anyway.
My regular therapist was apologetic about not being there for those appointments and said she should be available the rest of the year if I needed to come in again. But I think I can handle it on my own at this point. But it does get me mad that I had to go to all of those therapy sessions pre-op, when everyone knew they were a waste of time. But more than that for me, they sensitized me to the smells at the rehab center. If I could have had an MRI and surgery four months earlier when I knew I needed it and then only started PT, this problem would not have developed so quickly post-op.
I mentioned previously that if I were a professional athlete, things would have been much different. That observation was proven correct by Juju Smith-Schuster, wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Juju injured his shoulder during the game on Sunday, October 10. He had an MRI the next day, on Monday, then surgery that Wednesday, just three days after his injury. He will be out for the rest of the season, but he is already on his way with post-op rehab and will probably be ready for OTAs next spring.
If I could have had that schedule and had gotten an MRI then surgery back in March when the injury first occurred or at least in mid-April when I and everyone else knew I needed an MRI and probably surgery, I would already be well past the 24 weeks post-op period and back to full, unrestricted training. But as it, I still got four months left to go. I also would not have become sensitized to the rehab center smells and been able to continue there throughout that time-period. It really does get me mad. But that’s the difference not being a millionaire and not working for a billion-dollar company makes like Juju is and does.
In any case, this past week (the week of 10/17, eight weeks post-op), I started using the empty dumbbells for squats and deadlifts. At this point, I was up to doing 100 bodyweight squats and deadlifts, again, doing both with my regular medium-wide stance and with a close stance each twice a week. I am still doing one 100-rep set with bodyweight then a set with the dumbbells. I started with 50 reps with the dumbbells and will work up from there.
With that many reps for my legs, I stopped my walks, as doing both would have been too much. It was a bit of a shame, as I was up to a half an hour walk, going 1.5 miles at 3.0 mph. But the weather is turning sour soon anyways, so walking would not as been as pleasant. But I am thankful the weather held out for the entire time I needed to go for walks. It only rained once on me, and then just a drizzle. Otherwise, it was almost always bright sunshine and warm but not too hot of weather. But that will be changing really soon, so the timing worked out just right.
In any case, I also added in a few more therapy exercises. The last new exercise the therapist had me doing was “wall climbs” or “finger walks” It is using my fingers to “walk” my hand up a wall as far as I can. At first, I couldn’t get very far, but I am gradually improving.
She also had me doing front and side laterals with just the weight of my arm. I will again wait until I can do 100 reps that way before trying to add weight. I have two sets of fractional weights, which consist of 0.25-, 0.5-, 0.75-, and 1.0-pound plates. I will start with the lightest of those and work up.
I am also doing lying straight arm pullovers using a stick. I will eventually add bent arm pullovers, again with a stick. But also again, I will eventually start adding weight, starting with my lightest fractional plates.
The same goes for the rotating arm exercises, moving my bent arm in and out. I’m doing them sitting now, so there is no resistance. But eventually I will do them lying down on my back and on my side, going every possible direction, starting with no weight then adding the fractional plates in order.
I am also doing curls and lying triceps presses (skull crushers), the former with just the weight of my hands and then with the 1.0-pound plates and the latter with the stick. I am really glad I can work out at home, as using such tiny weights in a public gym would be embarrassing.
Wall pushups will be the next exercise to add. That will be the closest I will come to a bench press movement for a while. The protocol has me doing them for a month then doing kneeling pushups or angled pushups. It won’t be until 24 weeks post-ops that I can try full pushups.
But at 14 weeks post-op I can start doing dumbbell benches. I will again start those with very light weights, much less than my 10-pound dumbbells and work up slowly from there.
At this point, I am doing too many exercises, sets, and reps to do all of my therapy exercises four times a week. Therefore, starting next week (the week of 10/24, nine weeks post-op), I will split the exercises in half and do half twice a week and the other half on my two other workout days, just as I split up squats and deadlifts, doing each twice a week.
Note also, though I was initially told it would be six months until I could resume full activity, the protocol is actually for 24 weeks. That is a difference of 16 days, February 4th rather than February 20th, 2022 for the end date. Yes, I counted it out to the day. That is a bit encouraging.
But what is not encouraging is my side injury. It had gotten better, but then after my flare-up of my various health problems after my last therapy appointment, when I woke up in the morning, my side was really hurting. I don’t remember doing anything the day before or during the night to aggravate it, but I must have done something, as it is now worse than ever. That gives me another injury to rehab over the coming weeks. And it is another problem that was possibly caused by the delay in getting the MRI and surgery.
It is all very frustrating. But the side injury will keep me from trying to do too much too quickly. But I would be cautious anyway. The surgeon made it clear that I need careful, so as to not tear apart the work he did on my shoulder.
I don’t think I mentioned it, but the surgeon seemed rather proud of himself that he was able to fix the mess in my shoulder. Remember, he had told me immediately pre-op that he wasn’t sure if he could fix all of it or not. Thus now, he is sounding like an artist who doesn’t want his masterpiece defaced. I don’t want it messed up either, as I don’t want to have to go through this all over again, if it could even be fixed again if I were to tear open the carefully stitched together injury.
Actually, he didn’t use stitches but some kind of rods. They are not metal, as they didn’t show up on the X-ray. But whatever they are made of, that is all that is holding my shoulder together until it is fully healed, which again, won’t be until February 4th, so I have to be careful until then.
That is it for now. My
next update will be after my next appointment with the surgeon on November 12th.
He will probably be displeased that I stopped therapy early. However, I am
following the protocol he gave me, so hopefully things still work out. Here’s
praying once again that proves to be the case.
Third Post-Surgery Surgeon Appointment
I had my third post-surgery appointment with the surgeon on November 12, 2021, which was 12 weeks post-op. But first, in the couple of prior weeks, I did “cheat” a bit in my exercises.
I was already up to 100 bodyweight squat and deadlift reps, but I then quickly got up to another set of 100 reps with the 10-pound dumbbells. At that point, I added a third set with 15-pound dumbbells, for of course a total of 30 pounds. I figured that was about halfway between the 20-pounds total of the 10-pound dumbbells and an empty 45-pound power bar. Since I was halfway between when I was allowed to use the tens and the bar, I figured it would be okay.
That took me down in reps to a set of 50 squat reps initially. That was a bit better. I then used those same 15s for a set of close stance squats, for a total of 300 reps in a workout. For deadlifts, I followed the sumo or conv deadlifts with stiff leg deadlifts with the same stance and with the same 15s and reps, again, giving me 300 total reps. Add in a 100 or more reps for three different isolation exercises, and I am literally doing 500 or more reps per workout. It is getting quite tedious.
Meanwhile, since I was allowed to wall pushups, I figured it would be okay to do bench presses with a broomstick. I know that sounds depressing, but I was actually encouraged that the first time I did them, it only took a couple of reps to get the stick down to my chest. That is a clear improvement from just a couple of weeks ago, when I could not get my hands down anywhere near that far. I am now doing dozens of reps with the stick.
I continued to add a bit of weight to other upper body exercises, the most being on shrugs, where I am holding all 7.5-pounds of weight plates in each hand. But for most other exercises, I am still holding 2.5 pounds or less in each hand. That again is depressing, but it is progress.
I now plan on adding rows, upright rows, and a few other upper body exercises, starting with the broomstick, and then gradually adding very light weights, probably starting with ½-pound plates.
Otherwise, I still need to be careful with normal daily activities. I am avoiding lifting more than a few ounces. Though I am holding up to 15 pounds for the squats and deadlifts, holding a weight at arm’s length downward is far different than picking up a weight. But that is what the rows and upright rows are for.
I also still need to avoid reaching out for something with my left arm more than a few inches. But I that is why I will start to add more stretching at the end of my upper body workouts, once I get clearance from the surgeon.
Basically, I am trying to be extra cautious so as not to tear open the fixed rotator cuff tears. I probably will continue to be cautious until they are fully healed, which will not be until six months post-op or February 20, 2022.
On my side (oblique) injury, it is doing much better. But I still need to be cautious with it as well, until it is fully healed.
That said, at the appointment, I first told the surgeon about having to stop going to physical therapy (PT) due to the flare-up of my other health problems. He said that was okay, as he knew I knew how to self-train. He just said, “not to get too crazy.”
He then had me sit on the exam table and had me move or moved my arm in various ways. It was obvious that my range of motion (ROM) was far improved from my last visit five weeks ago. He said I was progressing on schedule.
However, one place where my ROM has not improved is lifting my arm up and back, as is needed to hold a power bar on my back for squats. I have been trying to do so at home by holding a stick on my back with my right arm and trying to reach for it with my left. I am still about 5-6” from being able to reach the stick.
I asked the surgeon what I could do about it. He said I could angle the stick out far enough that I could grab it with my left hand and gently try to pull in in with my right. He also said I could stretch it using a door jam. I told him I thought of both of those stretches, but I didn’t want to use such “assisted” stretching until I had clearance from him to do so.
I will start with those stretches and other stretches now, but it will probably take at least a couple of weeks of doing so until I am able to hold a bar on my back. That means I will have to keep using dumbbells at least for now on squats. But I will start using a power bar on deadlifts with my next deadlift workout.
I then asked him when and how quickly I could start adding weight to the bar for squats and deadlifts. He said to add about ten pounds a week. That was exactly what I was thinking. That is why I had already calculated that at that rate, in twelve weeks, when I would be 24 weeks post-op (on February 4, 2022), I would be up to 165 pounds.
I mentioned that to the surgeon, and he commented, “I assume that would not be very heavy for you.” I told him it would be about 20 reps. He said that would be about right. That means, I will be gradually adding weight and dropping reps over the next twelve weeks, which will take me to 24 weeks post-op.
But he then said that I should plan on a full year post-op before I was back to where I was before surgery. That again is what I already planned on. After those 12 weeks, I will follow the same plan of gradually adding weight and dropping reps over the following weeks and months, but probably less than ten pounds a week. I will try to time it so that the earliest I am back to even thinking of attempting a one-rep max (1RM) on squats and deadlifts would be August 20, 2022.
Benches, however, will be a different matter. I told him about doing benches with a broomstick. He said that was fine and that I could start adding weight. He suggested about five pounds per week, which again was the pace I was thinking of using. But starting at zero, that means I will be up to all of 60 pounds after those 12 weeks. That should still be far more than 20-reps. As such, it probably will and should take me far more than until August 20th to even think about a 1RM on benches. But exactly when is yet to be determined.
Otherwise, as mentioned previously, he had told me it would probably be best to avoid overhead presses altogether. I asked him about various other exercises. He said all would probably be okay. The only caveat was on dips. He said it might be best to stick with bodyweight dips and not try to do weighted dips, given the stress on the shoulders with dips.
That was about it. He said I should only need one more apportionment in about three months, and that would be it. I scheduled for Friday, February 11, 2020. That will be 25 weeks post-op. That again, should be when I am back up to about 165 pounds on squats and deadlifts and 60 pounds on benches.
I probably will wait
until after that appointment until I post another update, assuming, God-willing,
all goes according to plan. Thus, no news is good news. Until then, here’s
praying all does go according to plan over the next 13 weeks.
In my update a few days ago, I said, “no news is good news.” Well, I have news, and it is not good. Monday evening (11/15/21), I was helping my dad get the Christmas decorations out of the attic. He was in the attic and handing the stuff down to me on the ladder.
He has a nativity set he sets up on the front lawn. The figurines are light plastic, but he has sand in them to keep them from blowing away. He keeps that sand in them when he stores them. That has always been a mistake, as the sand always leaks into my eyes, so I have to handle the figurines with my eyes closed.
But this time, trying to that and with one hand was very problematic. The shepherd figurine’s staff slid down out of the bottom, caused me to lose my grip and have to grab it with my left arm, and somewhere in there, it really aggravated my shoulder. I had similar problems with the Joseph and Mary figurines. There was more bags and boxes after that, all of which were also awkward to handle.
By the time we were done, my shoulder and arm were really bothering me. I took some ibuprofen and iced it, but even at that, I barely slept. Part of it was the pain and part of it was the worry, or better, being scared I had really messed up my shoulder.
Then on top of that, I had laundry to do in the morning. I skipped changing the sheets on my bed, as I feared I’d aggravate it doing so. I also put on one of my slings to try to keep from aggravating it. But then I had problems with the washer not spinning properly, and fighting with water-laden clothes aggravated it anyway.
I called the surgeon’s office Tuesday morning (11/16) and left a message. A receptionist called me back, and I told her what happened. She said she’d talk to the doctor and get back to me. When she did, she said he said to rest it for about a week and to continue to take ibuprofen and to ice it. If it is not better by then, I’d need to make an appointment to see him. I’ll probably also continue to wear a sling for the next week, just to be sure I don’t aggravate it anymore.
At this point, all I can do is hope and pray it is okay. But once again, I must bemoan the fact I am not a professional athlete and/ or rich. If I were, I’d get an MRI done right now. That way, I’d know right away if I reinjured my shoulder or not. If not, I could stop stressing. If so, I could immediately consider my options.
I am sure if Juju Smith-Shuster were to have such a setback in his shoulder surgery recovery, he’d get an MRI right away. But as for me, all I can do is wait, as I am sure my insurance would not approve another MRI for quite some time and only after jumping through a bunch of more useless hoops.
One thing is certain—I blew up my plan for the next 12 weeks and beyond, so you can forget what I wrote previously in that regard. After taking a week off, I’ll probably have to start all over again. I definitely won’t be where I hoped to be come February 4, 2022 (24 weeks post-op).
After another rough night, come Wednesday morning (11/17), my arm is still aching. It’s not too bad. But I can tell if I were to use it, it might really hurt, so I am using a sling to keep me from doing so. I just don’t want to risk making it worse if I did reinjure it. As I said before, if I did, and it’s a significant tear, I doubt it could be fixed again. That could leave me living with an almost useless left shoulder and arm the rest of my life. That is why I am so concerned.
Please continue to keep
me in your prayers.
Fourth Post-Surgery Surgeon Appointment
I had my fourth post-surgery appointment for my rotator cuff injury with the surgeon on December 10, 2021, which was 16 weeks post-op. But first, after my setback four weeks ago, on November 15, I did as the surgeon told me to do. I rested my shoulder for a week. That included not doing any exercises for my upper body and returning to just bodyweight exercises for my lower body. I also wore a sling again for a week, to keep me from using my left arm. I even wore it to my family’s early Thanksgiving dinner, mainly so people would know not to bump into my arm.
Then the next week I basically started over with my exercises. For my upper body, I went back to little or no weight, doing sets of up to 50 reps. For the lower body, it meant going back to using my empty 10-pound dumbbell bars and doing sets of 100 reps.
Over the next three weeks, I only very gradually increased the weights, while still doing that many reps. By the day of this appointment, I was back up to using 20-pound dumbbells on squats and deadlifts, and 3.5 pounds in each hand on benches, with similarly tiny weights on other exercises.
At times, I felt like I could do a lot more. But at other times, my shoulder and especially my triceps really bothered me. The latter really had me worried, as that is the main problem I had before the surgery. I have more had pain in my triceps than in my shoulder.
What really is bothering me is doing shrugs. That was an exercise I had began early in my rehab, while still going to the rehab center. And it always felt good. I was using more weight on them before the setback than on any other upper body exercise, 7.5 pounds in each hand. But now, it really hurt to do them. It felt like something was grinding and cracking. Thus, I was only back to using 3.5s on them as well.
Otherwise, I was up to doing 50 wall pushups, so I came up with a plan to gradually increase the resistance on them. I put a safety bar in my power rack at a height that would have my arms in a horizontal position, as if doing a wall pushup. That was hole 15. I am now gradually lowering it with each workout and am down to hole 12 (there’s 2” between holes). That has me at about a 15 degree.
Altogether, I am doing hundreds of reps per workout. In fact, I calculated that between upper and lower body exercises, the day before this appointment, I did almost 1,400 reps. There is no way I can continue to do that many reps, as it is takes too long and is just too boring.
On a good note, I can now get my stick into squat position on my back. But when doing so, my triceps bothers me. That again is a problem I had before my surgery and why I got in the habit of wearing an elbow sleeve on my upper arm while squatting and deadlifting. What has me worried is again, it all feels like it did before the surgery.
But on another good note, my side (oblique) injury seems to have healed, so that is good.
Otherwise, over the past four weeks, I have been as careful as I could be, even wearing a sling if doing something a bit out of the ordinary, like sweeping the basement.
But since my shoulder and arm were still bothering me, I made the appointment with the surgeon. Going in, I was truly hoping and praying everything was okay. If it was, just having the surgeon tell me that would be a big relief. If not, well, best to find out now rather than later.
With that background, at the appointment, I explained to the surgeon how I aggravated my arm getting the Christmas decorations out of the attic and all of the preceding. He said it was possible for someone to tear a repaired rotator cuff, but he really wasn’t clear about if he thought I might have done so or not. He seemed to think it was just a case of inflammation.
He moved my arm and had me move my arm some, and it was clear my ROM was progressing reasonably well. But I did feel pain with a couple of the motions, which he noticed. But he did not seem too clear on what it all meant.
In the end, he did not even mention about getting another MRI. But what he did recommend was a second cortisone shot to calm down the inflammation. However, I could not get the shot at that time, as I had already scheduled my Covid booster shot for right after this appointment. He told me I had to wait a week until after that shot to get the cortisone shot. But he would not be in that office until Monday, December 20, ten days later. I scheduled an appointment for that day, but I am not sure I will keep it or not, for several reasons.
First off, back in the spring when I had my first Covid shots and my first cortisone shot, I was told I had to wait two weeks between them. And some quick research seems to verify that timetable (see Cortisone Steroid injections and Covid Vaccination: Timing is Everything). I wish I had asked the cute pharmacist at Walmart that gave me the booster shot her opinion, but I didn’t think of it at the time, as she seemed really busy.
In any case, two weeks after this day would be Christmas Eve, and the surgeon would not be in the office then either. Thus, I will have to wait until after Christmas if I don't get it on December 20.
Second, I had a significant reaction to that first cortisone shot, as I reported previously. And I fear I will have an even greater reaction to a second shot. That was the case with my two Pfizer shots. I had a much harder time with the second than the first. The same goes for my two shingles shots. That is why I got the J&J vaccine for my Covid booster, as it is completely different from the Pfizer vaccine. That worked, in that the only side effects I had were a sore arm and some fatigue. I will relate more on that when I write a follow-up to my two-part article Statistical Refutations of Covid Deniers and Antivaxxers.
Third, getting too many cortisone shots is not recommended, though up to three a year seems to be considered to be okay (see How Many Cortisone Shots Can You Have?) This would only be my second, so it shouldn’t be a problem. But the fact that it could weaken the tendons does not sound worthwhile.
Fourth, even if it helps, it is just a temporary fix. It didn’t last for me the first time, so I don’t feel like it would make much of a difference this time. But the surgeon seemed to think it would help me get over the hurdle of my current flare-up by calming down the inflammation. But I can do that with ice and ibuprofen.
All of this is to say, I might end up canceling the appointment and at least wait until after the holidays, see how I am doing by then, before getting a second cortisone shot.
In the meantime, I will go back to my original plan before the setback and begin to gradually increase the weights and decrease the reps on all exercises, as I just cannot stand to continue to do hundreds of reps. I told the surgeon that, and he seemed to understand and approve. I already have a plan laid out that will take me through one year post-op.
Overall, I was not
happy with the appointment, as I really did not get any clear answers. That is
why I keep using the word “seem” for what the surgeon said, as he really did not
seem sure about what I may or may not have done and what my condition now is.
All I can do is go ahead with my previous plan and trust the LORD all will be
Cortisone Shot Update
Just because you do A then B happens, does not necessarily mean A caused B, as B might have happened even if you did not do A.
I have tried to make this point in my recent Coronavirus articles in regard to vaccine side effects. It also applies to proposed treatments for Covid. But now I have an illustration of this principle from my own life.
After not getting a cortisone shot on Friday, December 10, 2021, I made an appointment for ten days later to get the shot. But then a strange thing happened. By that Sunday into Monday my shoulder was beginning to feel better, so much so that I canceled the appointment for the cortisone shot. Mind you, it usually takes 2-3 days for a cortisone shot to take effect.
That means, if I had gotten that cortisone shot on that Friday and then my shoulder began to feel better on Sunday and more so on Monday, it would have been logical to assume the cortisone shot was the reason for the improvement. But in fact, it would have had nothing to do with it. I know that since I did not in fact get the shot. My shoulder just began to heal on its own, and I was back on track for my recovery from the surgery. I apply this line of reasoning to Covid and the vaccines at Coronavirus General Commentaries: December 2021 (under “A Then B”).
But here, I still have a long way to go to fully recover from the surgery. But it felt very good when on that Wednesday (12/15), I used my power bar on squats for the first time in four months. I then used my deadlift bar on deadlifts the next day.
I only went up to 65 pounds on both days, and I had to wear an elbow sleeve on my left arm to keep the pain down in my triceps on squats. But still, it felt good to get a barbell on my back or in my hands after so long of only doing bodyweight squats and deadlifts or using dumbbells. Since then, I feel like I am back to a linear progression of recovery, just as I was before the setback. Basically, I lost about a month of recovery time due to the setback.
I was told after the surgery on August 20, 2021 that it would take about six months before I could resume full normal activities and about a year to be fully recovered. I now must add a month to each of those numbers. But no matter, just as long as I get there eventually. For that I am thankful.
I already have a training plan laid out that will take me to the end of that 13-month period, which will be about the end of September 2022. My plan is to keep the reps relatively high until then. Thus, I will not begin real powerlifting training until after that, or next fall. That means, if I were to enter another contest, it most certainly will not be until 2023. If it were not for the setback, I might have been able to squeeze one in before the end of 2022. But that is very doubtful now.
I am not sure if I will continue to need to wear the elbow sleeve on squats. If I do, it does not matter in training. But it may or may not be legal in competition, depending on the federation. But that concern is a long way off.
For now, I am just
thankful I am back on track in my recovery. I will just have to be extra careful
to not have another setback. Here’s praying that proves to be the case and I
continue to progress on to full recovery.
Another Cortisone Shot Update
After my update last month about not getting a cortisone shot, I ended up getting one. The reason was, the reason I was not feeling much pain in my left shoulder and arm and did not feel I needed it was because I was taking ibuprofen regularly.
I had found early in my rotator cuff story that ibuprofen was the pain medication that helped the most with the pain. I tried various other pain medications and ointments, but nothing worked. That is why I began using ibuprofen regularly back in the spring of 2021.
The directions say you can take 1-2 tablets every 4-6 hours, but not more than six in a 24-hour period. I have been taking about four per day. I figured that amount would be safe. And it worked in keeping the pain down even somewhat before the surgery and more so afterwards.
However, after taking it for so long, I began to worry about the long-term side effects. I did some research on the Internet, and the list of potential side effects was quit disturbing. The one that stuck out at me was hypertension. My blood pressure has been going up over the past few months, and I couldn’t figure out why. Well, it looked like I just found out.
As a result, I stopped taking the ibuprofen. But when I did, my shoulder and arm began to bother me more, especially while working out. And when once again the pain began to disturb my sleep, I figured I’d better get the cortisone shot.
Some more research showed that it was okay to get up to three shots a year. More than that can weaken the ligaments. But since it had now been nine months since my first shot, I figured that would not be a problem.
However, I was concerned about having a reaction to it due to my sensitivities, especially since this would be my second shot. As I explained previously, the more often I am exposed to something I am sensitive to, the more I react to it. But I figured I had no choice.
With that background, I go my second cortisone shot on Friday, January 14, 2022. I went back to the exam room almost as soon I got to the office. A nurse came in and laid the needle and gauze down that the surgeon would use for the shot and left. I then sat there and waited for about 20 minutes until the surgeon came in.
I really wish the nurse had not left the needle there, as it was about two inches long, and it was freaking me out thinking about it being stabbed into my shoulder. But the surgeon finally came in. We did not talk much. He just gave me the shot, and that was it. It hurt a bit, but not near as much as I had worried myself into thinking it would. And my shoulder did not hurt at all after the shot. But the surgeon told me to take it easy for a couple of days.
Afterwards, I went to visit a relative and a friend. On my way home, I passed a new car wash that had just opened, and they were offering free car washes. I figured I’d take advantage of it. But after I drove through the car wash, I found out you could also vacuum your car yourself for free.
I did that, but I had to use both hands to handle the long tube that attached to the high-powered vacuum, and my shoulder bothered me a bit afterwards. I stopped at restaurant to eat, then went home and took a shower. Then I had a large wash of clothes to put away. I had done the load of wash before I left, but I didn’t have time to finish. But when I did, that aggravated my shoulder a bit more.
I iced it then and later that day. But it still bothered me some that night, disturbing my sleep. But it felt better by the next day (Saturday), and I rested most all of that day. I did not seem to have any serious reaction to the shot, like I had feared, other than I usually do after going out and stopping at multiple locations due to my MCS.
But then the next night, I had a flare-up of my “organic tics” in my left shoulder, which kept me awake half of the night. I cannot say for sure if that was a reaction to the shot or not, as I get those tics often, and they can occur anywhere in my body. But it did seem quite coincidental.
By the next day (Sunday), my shoulder was feeling okay. But I then had four boxes of food and other stuff I had ordered online to put away that morning. I wore my sling as I was doing so, to be as cautious as possible. Afterwards, my shoulder ached a bit, but not much. I worked out later that day, doing an upper body workout, and that went about the same.
I then had a couple of more nights of my tics flaring up in my shoulder, so if that was related to the shot, I lost three night’s sleep because of it. Meanwhile, now, two weeks later, the pain in my shoulder and arm are about the same as before I got the shot. Thus, it is obvious the second cortisone shot was a mistake. Negative side effects with no benefits. It also means, it is looking like I will be dealing with pain in my shoulder and arm for a long time to come.
That means, I now have the same situation in left shoulder that I’ve had in my right shoulder for almost 23 years, ever since my bicycle accident back in 1999, a dull pain that flares up at times. I also experience overall body pain at times from my fibromyalgia. Consequently, it looks like pain will my constant companion for the foreseeable future.
Finally, for my next
issue of my FitTips for One and All newsletter,
I will address in more detail my experiences with various pain medications and
ointments I’ve been using and the side effects thereof.
For this ongoing story, see Rotator Cuff Injury: Part Five.
Rotator Cuff Injury: Part Four. Copyright © 2021-2022 by Gary F. Zeolla.
The above page was first posted on this website October 23, 2021.
The individual updates were added as dated.
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