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Rotator Cuff Injury
by Gary F. Zeolla
This article is continued from Rotator Cuff Injury 2.0: Part Three.
With my white sling, this outfit is even more patriotic.
Sling and Rehab Updates
I mentioned in a previous update that the surgeon had told me I could stop wearing a sling after three weeks, as I was comfortable with doing so. Well, it is now over three weeks post-op (Sunday, 8/7/22), and I do not feel at all comfortable going without a sling.
I checked my first Rotator Cuff Story, and at the start of Part Four, I have a section titled, “Sling Struggles and Ending Rehab.” In it I state the surgeon had said I could stop wearing the sling a week after my last appointment, which was five weeks post-op. But come week six, I still did not feel comfortable going without it all of the time. I instead gradually weaned myself off of it over the next two weeks.
I will probably do the same this time. My next appointment with the surgeon is on Tuesday, August 30, 2022. That will be six-and-half weeks post-op. It was supposed to be scheduled for five weeks post-op or four weeks after my last appointment. That would be Friday, August 19, but the surgeon does surgeries that day. I initially scheduled for the next Friday, but my dad is going away for the weekend, leaving early that day. I am not sure whether I will be comfortable driving yet or not by then, so I moved it to the following Tuesday.
In any case, whether I drive or not, but especially if I do, I will wear the sling until then and then. The surgeon will probably tell me at that appointment I no longer need to wear it. If so, I will do what I did last time and begin to gradually wean myself off of it over the following two weeks.
However, I am already taking the sling off once or twice a day and just standing, lowering my arm down, and moving it around a bit for a minute or two. I also am taking it off for my rehab exercises for my upper body, though I will keep wearing it for my lower body exercises for a while.
I am also using my right arm more, maybe too much. But with ice and ibuprofen, it is not bothering very much at all.
Meanwhile, my rehab is still going slowly but as planned for both my right shoulder and my left adductor injury. I am gradually increasing the reps on my bodyweight squats and deadlifts, doing each twice a week. I am up to doing 50 reps on each of four different forms of each (Squats, 2-Count Pause Squats, Extra Low Squats, Olympic Squats/ Sumo Deadlifts, Still Leg Sumo Deadlifts, Conv Deadlifts, Stiff Leg Conv Deadlifts). That is total of 200 reps, plus I am doing a couple of other lower body exercises each day for the same number of reps.
I will continue to add five reps per workout or ten reps per week. Once I get to 100 reps, I plan on adding weight. I will start with holding a 2-1/2-pound plate in each hand for a total of all of five pounds. I will the increase by five pounds per workout or ten pounds per week. Once I get to a 20-pound dumbbell in each hand, I will switch to a 45-pound power bar but still follow the same weight increase pattern.
That is the same protocol I used last time. But this time, along with only very gradually increasing the stress on my shoulder, I will be doing the same for my adductor. Hopewell, but the time my shoulder can handle real weight, so can my adductor.
Along the way, I will also do what I did last time of working on getting my right hand up into position to hold the power bar for Squats, hopefully, being able to do so by the time I can use the bar.
For my shoulder, I am only up to about 20 reps for each exercise, again, doing each exercise twice a week. But I will follow the same pattern of adding five reps per workout or ten per week. With starting at a lower number, it will take a few weeks longer until I reach 100 reps and begin to add weight. The amount of weight I add will depend on the exercise, but it will be less than the 2-1/2-pounds per hand for Squats and Deadlifts. For some exercises, it will be as little as 0.25 pounds per hand.
Unlike last time, I will start to do Benches and Rows with a broomstick this week, 3-4 weeks post-op. Last time, I waited until eight weeks post-op. But I don’t think reps with a broomstick will hurt anything. I want to get back to real exercises a bit quicker, following the same pattern as above. Once I start to add weight, which won’t be for several weeks, I will probably add just a pound on each side per workout.
I have an old metal pull-up bar, which weights 6.5 pounds. I will switch to that once I get to that amount of total weight. I will use it until I am putting 35 pounds on the bar, for a total of 41.5pounds. l will then switch to a power bar. But that will be months away.
For specific rotator cuff exercises, it will probably be a few weeks until I start to use TheraBands, starting with the thinnest one. That one broke in my previous set, so already ordered a new set from Amazon.
That’s it for now. My next update will probably be after my next surgeon
appointment on August 30, 2022.
One Year Post Left Shoulder Surgery
Today, Saturday, August 20, 2022, marks one year since my surgery on my left shoulder, so I wanted to give an update on it.
As far as I can tell, it is almost completely recovered. I have full range of motion (ROM) in it. I can use it for all normal daily tasks. In fact, I am using it more than usual due to not being able to fully use my right arm. I can lay on my left side for short periods of time. But If I lay on it at night, it will start to ache and wake me up after about an hour. That is frustrating, but an improvement.
What I am not sure about is the strength level. Since I cannot work out normally due to my right shoulder, I have no idea where I am with my left shoulder. My last regular bench workout I benched bodyweight. That was down from my recent best of 1.5 times bodyweight, but still quite an improvement.
But now, due to my right shoulder, I will be starting over in building strength in my left shoulder as I rehab my right shoulder. The surgeon told me last year to not do one-handed work with my right arm, as that could cause problems with the fixed tears in my left shoulder, so I am sure the same is true now but in reverse.
On my right shoulder, I am progressing faster than I did with my left shoulder. In my last update, I said I would wait until six seeks post-op to begin to wean myself off of my sling. But I began to do so just a couple of days later, just over four weeks post-op. Now, five weeks post-op, I am off of it for part of the day, when I am typing or other low risk activities. But I still wear it when doing anything that might aggravate it
But I am using it a lot more, like for eating a brushing my teeth, which is a big relief. Trying to do those simple things with my left hand was really tiresome. But I still am being very careful not to reach for or lift anything with it.
I am slowly recovering ROM in it, again, quicker than I did with my left shoulder. I am still only doing bodyweight lower body exercises and weightless, bandless rehab exercises for the shoulder.
The broomstick benches are going well. I was able to almost get the stick down to my chest this week. I was not able to do overhand rows, though, as they hurt too much, but I can do them underhand. But it will be weeks before I begin to add weight or use TheraBands for anything.
Worrying me even more than my shoulders is my left adductor injury. It will seem like it is okay, then it will start bother me again. Sometimes it is just fine while I am doing my bodyweight squats and deadlifts and going for my walks, but sometimes it will bother me. All I can do is continue with my plan and hope it heals along the way.
I probably won’t know for sure how it is doing until I begin to add some real weight on squats and deadlifts. As I said to my dad, “One year from now, my shoulder will be healed, but my adductor might not be.”
that as it may, I will close by saying I thank the LORD (and my skilled surgeon)
for the recovery in my left shoulder and the slow but steady improvement in my
Second Post-Surgery Appointment and Continuing Progress
I had my second post-surgery appointment with the surgeon on August 30, 2022. It was at 6-1/2 weeks post-op. He first took X-rays, and they were normal. They showed the bones are aligned as they should be. That is an indication the surgery was successful. That was a big relief.
Otherwise, the surgeon checked my ROM and said I am progressing normally. He asked me how it was going with rehabbing myself, and I said it was working out just fine. But I did scare him when I said, “I have been doing bench presses.” He looked shocked and concerned, until I added, “with a broomstick.” Then he sighed with relief. But my point was, it was just that week that I had been able to get the stick down to my chest.
I told him I had also been using that broomstick for deadlifts. But my one concern was that I still could not get my right arm up and back to hold that stick on my back for squats. I asked him if I could “force” it back. He said he did not like the word “force” as I could still tear open the fixed tears. He also said to not lift anything “heavy” yet. But by “force” I meant to gently use that stick to try to pull it back. But I figured it was best to not even do that.
As I write this, it is now mid-September 2022. I worked up to 100 reps on squats and deadlifts for each of my four different exercises, for a total of 400 reps for each workout. I then split up the exercises so as to only do two exercises per workout but for two sets.
The first set is with no weight (except that broomstick for deadlifts), but for them for the second set, I am using my old pull-up bar, which weights 6.5 pounds. I started with just that but will add five pounds per workout, until I get to forty pounds. Then I will switch to my 45-pound deadlift bar.
For squats, I still cannot get my arm up and back to hold the pull-up bar on my back, so I am holding weight plates to my side, increasing 2-1/2 pounds per workout. I will then switch to my ten-pound dumbbells. Hopefully, by the time I get to 20-pound dumbbells, I will be able to switch to my 45-pound squat bar.
For benches and other rehab exercises, I am still using just that broomstick or nothing. I am up to about 80 reps for most exercises. When I get to 100 reps, I will begin to add weight, from 1/2 to 2-1/2 pounds per workout, depending on the exercise.
The ROM in my right shoulder is very good, almost back to normal, except again, for getting my arm up and back for squats. I am mostly off of wearing a sling. I am only wearing it for my walks. But that is only because I go for my walks after doing those broomstick bench presses and other rehab exercises, so my shoulder is rather sore.
For that walking, for my last walk, I was up to 3,142 steps, 1.33 miles, 27:54 time, 2.9 mph (from my pedometer app). I will probably keep up with the walking through October. But after that, I am not sure if I will continue with it. It will depend on if it is too much, assuming by then I am starting to use some real weight on squats and deadlifts. Besides, walking in the winter is such a pain.
Again, it is mid-September 2022. This whole ordeal began back on March 14, 2021. That means, it has been 1-1/2 years since I have had full use of both arms at the same time. It is really getting tiresome. And I still got a ways to go. I figure it will be sometime next year before I will have full use of my right arm and can stop stressing out over reinjuring it. That stress is even worse than the physical limitations.
next appointment with the surgeon is on October 15, 2020. That will be 13 weeks
post-op. I will post more then. Until then, I thank the LORD I am progressing as
planned. Though again, I am getting really tired of it all.
Rotator Cuff Injury 2.0: Part Four. Copyright © 2022 by Gary F. Zeolla.
The above article was first posted on this website August 1, 2022.
Updates were added as dated.
Dealing with Health Difficulties
Rotator Cuff Injury: Dealing with Health Difficulties
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