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What they don't tell you when you have shoulder surgery!
Posted by: 400m
Posted on: Tuesday 13th April 2010


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Like London buses, so the phrase would have us believe, you wait a long time for one article to turn up and then there's a second not long after the first. So here is another chapter in my ongoing struggle to return to normality.

Previously I mentioned I had another follow-up scheduled with the orthopaedic surgeon who performed the osteotomy. The appointment happened the other day. As well as the stainless steel plate, the x-ray unfortunately showed that although there is some grafting of the clavicle, it hasn't happened at the rate the surgeon would have expected. He is still hopeful that progress will be made and I'll find out in another three months time when there will be another follow-up x-ray.

I'm told that 9 times out of 10 progress will be visible by then, but if not there is a “Plan B”. "Plan B" which would involve inserting either bone chips from the hip or injecting bone marrow into the graft area. Hopefully it won't become necessary to do that.

What they don't tell you when you have shoulder surgery!

(I'd better add first that this only applies only to those that have a badly smashed clavicle leaving them with a shorter shoulder girth)

I suppose I should have realized that my body would react to the clavicle being back in the correct position, (even if it's not grafted together). In the months after the accident, with my body out of balance, I had suffered from lower back aches and strains and had had a physio treat the symptoms on a regular basis. When I started running again, post-accident, my general very low fitness, meant that I wasn't able to challenge myself enough to risk other injuries.

Post-surgery, more treatment focus had been on the shoulder complex itself and the back wasn't treated as much as it had been. But, the back gradually became more of a source of discomfort than the shoulder. I noticed that I couldn't sit up comfortably, when I sneezed it hurt my back and if I started to run there was a definite lower back ache. It was a problem that was giving me yet more cause for concern.

Since the clavicle operation, I have tried to train sensibly and had even worked my way back to running a very steady 10-mile Club Handicap road race. But not long afterwards I came unstuck. I decided to join some of my training partners on a long, easy, Sunday morning run. Unfortunately a route was chosen that involved crossing some very rutted ground. As I gingerly picked my way across the terrain, conscious of not falling and jeopardising my shoulder further, it must have put too much strain on my back. The next thing I knew my hamstring seized up. To make matters worse I was a few miles from home. Fortunately, one of my clubmates had a mobile phone and I was able to call for a lift home.

After two and a half years of imbalance my body had adjusted to its new structure and it is now protesting at being the right shape again! What did I say previously about not doing trail runs? Admittedly that was to avoid shoulder damage, but beware of trying to do anything that takes you off-balance, it has a high probability of exacerbating back problems and in this case hamstring injury.

At the surgeon's suggestion I am going to see an osteopath in an attempt to get the back problem sorted out.

So at the moment I can't even go for a social run, let alone think about being a competitive age-group athlete again. Not even being able to run is, to me, the lowest I can be. Although the physio can treat it, yet more patience is required on my part.

I'll be back. Not if, but when?

Train safe.

PS I am still just about able to ride indoors using the Computrainer. Having read and re-read the manual I now know how to use the included test protocols. So for any other bewildered users out there, use the manual ergo and select Start > Charts (not exactly intuitive for us literal thinkers!)


Vince Golding About the Author
Formerly a good standard 400m runner who was thwarted by the dreaded stress fracture. A few years later I made a return to running at cross country and 10k before being tempted by triathlon, trying longer and longer distances. With more miles under the belt I kept on improving, then one day while out training on my bike a van driver didn't see me...

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