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  1. #1
    Not now chief... TonySturch's Avatar
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    Torn labrum on MRI, but lifting/pressing heavy without pain

    So about three or four months ago, I fell off my snowmobile cutting the first path over a 6 foot snow bank. It was a pretty lame fall, at very low speeds, and I didnt think much of it. My shoulder felt pretty banged up, but made decent progress over the first month, but I am still unable to sleep on that arm, overhead. I gave it 5 weeks off from the gym while it healed up, then eased back in. I am still able to do just about every lift, although I do feel some clicking and slipping. Ive always felt the clicking/slipping, but its definitely more pronounced now. Still, Im able to do just about everything in the gym without any pain at all, and very few adjustments needed to be made to accommodate the shoulder injury.

    Since I'm a stomach sleeper and I have effectively lost 50% of my preferred sleeping positions, I went to see the orthopedist. He sent me over to the MRI, and the results came back that I have a near circumferential tear of the labrum, and some mild tendonitis of the rotator cuff. My ortho obviously is pushing for surgery, but I'm not sold. I'm still benching 315x6 and shoulder pressing 90's without any concerns. Yes, I am a bit more cautious of my shoulder, but the weight is going up. Would I really be able to keep my numbers up if I had a torn labrum?

    I read a number of lengthy posts regarding torn labrums, and it seems most were unable to do any chest exercises. I, on the other hand, and extremely relieved my chest movements were completely unaffected.

    Just looking for any opinions out there... Thanks!
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    Registered User sowilson's Avatar
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    your torn labrum will remain torn unless you have surgery - it won't heal on its own, not enough blood flow. Having said that, some people can lift pain free and engage in sport with a torn labrum if other muscles (small ones) take up the role of the labrum and provide stability. However, once torn you will be much more susceptible to dislocations and subluxations. So, how stable is your shoulder? What did the doctor say about stability? My guess is that your shoulder is pretty stable, at least stable enough to handle the weight you're currently doing, but not as stable as the uninjured shoulder.

    Surgery will reattach the labrum and it will stabilize your shoulder. It will tighten things up and it will be better able to withstand abuse (crashing through snow banks with your sled). If you choose not to have surgery I would encourage you to do a rehab program that works the AC/RC and scap - as this is where you train the minor muscles to stabilize your shoulder. A search term to get you started is "throwers 10" program as this is what overhead athletes do for shoulder health (volleyball, tennis, baseball pitchers, javelin, etc).

    Your still young, as we age our labrum takes a pounding as we get older and most of us by our 50's have partially torn labrums. We adjust by doing less weight and getting our kids or neighborhood football players for the cost of cheap pizza, to handle heavier work.
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  3. #3
    Not now chief... TonySturch's Avatar
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    Thanks for the response. I was familiar with most of the information you provided, though it is good info and surely bears repeating. I would agree that the stability is provided by the surrounding musculature. The only feeling of instability I notice is when I am sleeping on that arm raised above my head, and even still, I feel similar clicking in the opposite shoulder, though without the pain. I can raise my injured arm directly overhead, and press my bicep to my ear without any real feeling of pain or instability beyond a slight clicking. Its not until the weight of my head compresses it that causes any concern.

    I guess I'm hoping that it may be misdiagnosed or simply not as bad as the MRI makes it out to be. Or, at least to explain why my ROM is still pretty good, and generally pain free, especially under load. More than anything, I just want to make the pieces fit so I can make an informed decision on surgery or not.

    Thanks again for the input
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    A circumferential tear with minimal pain/loss of ROM? Wow, I have no idea how that would even be possible. I've got to assume that your shoulder will eventually begin to dislocate regularly, or your ROM will disappear, or something. I've never heard of a labral tear this serious that wasn't causing significant symptoms, but then again I'm not a doctor.

    I think it's unlikely that your MRI wasn't accurate. When they are inaccurate they tend to miss tears, not show tissue damage that isn't there. I suppose anything is possible though. May be worth a second MRI, although insurance may fight you on that one.
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  5. #5
    Not now chief... TonySturch's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by 2Rude4MyOwnGood View Post
    A circumferential tear with minimal pain/loss of ROM? Wow, I have no idea how that would even be possible. I've got to assume that your shoulder will eventually begin to dislocate regularly, or your ROM will disappear, or something. I've never heard of a labral tear this serious that wasn't causing significant symptoms, but then again I'm not a doctor.

    I think it's unlikely that your MRI wasn't accurate. When they are inaccurate they tend to miss tears, not show tissue damage that isn't there. I suppose anything is possible though. May be worth a second MRI, although insurance may fight you on that one.
    It was referred to a near circumferential, not complete. Here's the wording from the report.

    GLENOHUMERAL JOINT: There is a prominent tear the posterior posterior superior labrum with
    slight displacement of the torn fibers. Tear extends into the direct superior labrum at
    the level of the biceps anchor. There is also tearing of the anterior inferior labrum.
    There is focal cartilage loss along the posterior glenoid adjacent to the labral tear.
    Joint capsule is slightly thickened and hyperintense. There is mild pericapsular edema.
    There is no joint effusion.

    Impression:
    Prominent near circumferential tearing of the labrum, most pronounced posteriorly but also
    extending to the superior labrum at the level of the biceps anchor. There is focal
    cartilage loss along the posterior glenoid. There is a mild adhesive capsulitis.

    My ortho will see the disk / images himself on Monday, so Ill know more then.
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    Registered User olaep68's Avatar
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    Just a thought, perhaps you're still able to train fairly normally because the injury was due to a snowmobile fall rather than through lifting weights. If you tore it from the latter, maybe the positioning of the tear would completely screw up whatever lifts (or similar) you injured it on originally... if that makes sense.

    For example, I have a small labral tear in my right hip. You'd probably think that would affect squats, lunges etc, but it has virtually no effect on them at all. My theory for this is because I tore it from running, not from lifting weights. So I'm guessing the tear is in a place / position that doesn't really relate to squat + lunge movements.

    I say that, but who knows, further down the line maybe I'll end up making my hip injury 10 times worse!

    This is just my bit of broscience anyway, I don't have a clue about how things things work really
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  7. #7
    Not now chief... TonySturch's Avatar
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    Well, yesterday I finally got to sit down and talk at some length with two doctors in the practice. No surgery for now.

    They said the MRI looked pretty severe, and would certainly warrant surgery, but the MRI is secondary to how I actually feel. Since I still have great ROM and strength, and no resting pain, there's no reason to go through the pain and recovery time of surgery. Cortisone shots are another option, but since they are temporary at best, I chose to forego them for now. I can see if vitamin I helps keep any swelling down, but honestly, id rather save my stomach from any ulcers and simply deal with the occasional bit of discomfort.

    They put no limitation on my activities, provided I dont feel any pain. They didn't even want me to do additional physical therapy, since my shoulder was well stabilized and I had no real issues with my daily routine. Though they felt rotator cuff exercises could only help out, when I asked about them.

    The doctors said the torn labrum may or may not even be due to the accident. It may be naturally occurring wear and tear from the gym and life in general. I may be feeling tendonitis in the RC instead, though I personally think the tendinitis is the relatively harmless side effect from lifting, and not the cause of the occasional overhead pain. As for the tear, while Its not likely to heal on it's own, it may decrease in time. Though it could just as likely get worse.

    Basically, they told me not to worry about it, radiologists are alarmist by nature, and don't come back till things get worse.
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    Registered User gonzagnr's Avatar
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    torn labrums can give false positive on mri.
    in my opinion if you can train with no pain keep pushing carefully, if pain get worse get surgery, it wont heal without it.
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    I tore my labrum and had no pain when lifting. I ended up opting to get the surgery though, because my shoulder would pop and lock my arm up when doing certain quick motions while playing basketball and I wanted to continue playing for as long as I can. They also warned it could produce arthritis earlier on if it didn't get treated, but this wasn't a guarantee. My doctor told me the surgery definitely wasn't necessary too, so just weigh your options based on your goals.
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    Originally Posted by rsnellings25 View Post
    I tore my labrum and had no pain when lifting. I ended up opting to get the surgery though, because my shoulder would pop and lock my arm up when doing certain quick motions while playing basketball and I wanted to continue playing for as long as I can. They also warned it could produce arthritis earlier on if it didn't get treated, but this wasn't a guarantee. My doctor told me the surgery definitely wasn't necessary too, so just weigh your options based on your goals.
    how is your recovery going? hope all is going fine.
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    Originally Posted by gonzagnr View Post
    how is your recovery going? hope all is going fine.
    It's going great, thanks. I'm actually ahead of schedule to the point where they want me to just work on my exercises at home until I hit 6 weeks post op. I've already been able to do some weighted curls,shrugs and tricep extensions (topping out at 5lbs, but hey, its something), heaviest resistance bands and can raise my arm overhead with no pain. I'm at 60% external rotation, but that's all they want me doing for now. Just gotta keep plugging along until they advance me to the next stage
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  12. #12
    Not now chief... TonySturch's Avatar
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    Just wanted to drop an update. I'm still lifting heavy, and the shoulder is still healing, but incredibly slowly. While the first couple months after the fall, my shoulder made great progress healing, but then seemed to halt any progress. Here we are another 4 months later, taking double doses of glucosamine chondroitin msm, and plenty of advil, and my shoulder is still improving. Its probably only improved 10%-20% or so since my MRI, but progress is progress. My ROM has increased, and pain and discomfort is almost non existant, except for shoulder presses and isolated delt exercises. I also notice drastically fewer stability issues where you feel it click or slip. I still cannot sleep with my right arm above my head, but I have taken to sleeping with my arm at my side, without a pillow. The sleeping position also seems to be helping my lower back as well. Ive experimented with sleeping on my back, but its still very difficult for me to do, and the most I can hope for is an hour or two on my back before I need to change positions, but every little bit helps. Anyway, while I'm not fully healed, I did manage to bench 365x5 the other day, so the injury is not impeding my progress. Hopefully I will continue to heal regardless of those that say cartilage cannot heal on its own. If that were true, surgical repair would be no stronger than the thread it was stitched up with.
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    Updating this thread again, as I'm just about to hit the 2 year mark since the original injury. At this point I am 98-99 percent healed up. My range of motion and pain in virtually indistinguishable between both shoulders. About 3 months ago I was finally able to start sleeping on that arm again. I've been lifting this whole time without any major issues, aside from the usual wear and tear, strains and pulls. Ive been taking double doses of glucosamine/chondroitin as well as megadosing vitamin C. Perhaps my tear was close enough that the cartilage was able to heal up over time, or perhaps the tear was simply not as bad as the radiologist put in the report. Either way, it did heal, and without surgery. Ill consider myself very lucky on this one.
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    Registered User theseveredlink's Avatar
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    Hey man thanks for posting and updating. I'm trying to a avoid surgery also and was wondering if you would mind laying out the excoriates you did specifically to help strengthen the shoulder? Also any additional supplements you may have taken?

    Thanks man
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    Originally Posted by theseveredlink View Post
    Hey man thanks for posting and updating. I'm trying to a avoid surgery also and was wondering if you would mind laying out the excoriates you did specifically to help strengthen the shoulder? Also any additional supplements you may have taken?

    Thanks man
    Honestly, I kept up with my routine as much as it would allow. Some exercises were pain free, even at full weight. Other exercises had pain i had to work around, and still others I had to take a long break from completely. But overall, I definitely reduced weight, and number of sets. I know I had reduced to two sets per exercise, but looking back, I wish I would have started doing fullbody routines with one set each, maybe a couple times a week. The work done is the same over the course of a week, but the recovery time between sets is a big benefit IMO. Moving to full body has largely eliminated my aches and pains and strains. Though I'm in maintain mode, not exactly trying to grow or bulk right now. All the same, I'd consider looking hard at fullbody routines with one set each per day.

    As for supplements, I took an ASSLOAD of glucosamine choindroitin, and vitamin C. There are some studies that show vitamin C is useful in cartilage production. But the biggest contributor is simply time. My tear was not 100%, and sine I could still do the majority of what I wanted to do in life, the doctors did not push surgery. They also didn't think it would heal on its own, but both shoulders are equal now, and if anything, the broken might even feel better these days. I still sleep on my stomach with my head on my arms, and thats really the deciding factor whether it healed or not, and for me, it certainly did.

    Best of luck with the recovery process. I hope it heals up naturally for you. Do as much as your body will allow, and listen to your body, it will let you know when youre doing too much. Good luck!
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    Registered User MKIV_'s Avatar
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    Hey mate!

    I'm taking a similar approach to you. I seem to have tears in both shoulders since about 2 months ago.

    I took a month off and then started therapy with the main goal of strengthening the rear delts to support the joint. Occassionally l lift super light just to go through the motions.

    Would you be able to elaborate on your supplement regime/dosages and lifting routine? Though not well publicised, I have been told that these tears can heal on their own.

    Would really appreciate your insight! (and thank you for making the effort to update us 2 years on)
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    Not now chief... TonySturch's Avatar
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    Sure. While very very unscientific, my dosages was as follows:

    Creatine: 5000mg
    Glucosamine: 1500mg
    Chondroitin: 1200mg
    MSM: 1000mg
    Vitamin C: 1000mg+
    Time: Loooooooooooong time.

    Good luck with your tears. I'm sure mine are still there, but not bothering me in any way. Theyre completely manageable.
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    You're a legend! I'll check back in soon with any progress.

    Appreciate your well wishes
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    I've decided to hijack this thread and provide my own account of my non-surgical recovery just as Tony has.

    This thread was one of the first I stumbled across in my initial panic and hope I can contribute to future readers.

    I have tears in both shoulders. (Unconfirmed by MRI) Right shoulder showed a labral cyst, left subluxed.(extent of tears unknown)

    My left shoulder subluxated while performing a rear delt fly after pull ups with 30kg +bw of 77kg. This was at the very beginning of June 2018.

    I took a week off prior to a diagnosis, putting it down to inflammation having had prior bursitis.

    I purchased some Animal Flex and supplemented with additional tumeric.

    Following my diagnosis after ultrasound, everything felt worse (clicking/pain). It hit me hard mentally. This prompts me to say that your mental approach to tackling labral tears is key. I experienced significant atrophy from the stress and legitimately became worse.

    I put a complete stop on the weights (which I strongly advise at least for the first 4 weeks).

    I then started supplementing with:
    -Animal Flex
    -Additional Glucosamine/Chondoitrin/MSM
    -Collagen
    -Lysine
    -Vitamin C

    I take all of these 5 days a week.

    A month following the injury I commenced physiotherapy and was given a 6 month timeline for a full recovery. I expressed that I would be returning to the gym at 80% of my max for all lifts.

    I'm now 1 month into physiotherapy and have taken it extremely seriously. It takes me at least 45min to complete all the exercises every night.

    I have progressed faster than expected and anticipate that I'll be self managing/lifting in the next 6 weeks. (I started some light, controlled lifting about 6 weeks post injury)

    The speed of progression varies based on a variety of factors, including genetics, extent of tear, gender and adherence to the program.

    My shoulders feel at least 70% better. Little to no pain and clicking. Sometimes they're aggravated during the day to day.

    I encourage you all to give physiotherapy/supplementation and positivity a good hard crack. Don't half ass your program and resort to surgery immediately.

    Will update again in 3-6 months. Good luck all!
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  20. #20
    Not now chief... TonySturch's Avatar
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    Good luck MKIV_! Sounds like youve got a pretty solid plan in place. I hope you continue to progress quickly through your recovery. I do agree that initial rest is key, and keeping things light for a while is a must. You dont want to keep ripping open tissue and cartilage thats trying to heal up. But why are you only taking the supplements 5 days a week? Id take em 7 days without question personally.
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  21. #21
    Registered User MKIV_'s Avatar
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    Thanks mate. I was taking them every day (especially during the panic phase).
    I get a bit over taking circa 16 pills a day. Including MACA/Spirulina which i take for general health.

    I usually keep up the Vitamin C and powdered Glucosamine/Chondroitin/MSM on the "off" days.
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  22. #22
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    Hello, thank you for your posts and the updates. I wanted to ask if you remember ever experiencing a catching/locking sensation at any moment since you obtained your injury? I realized that you mentioned “clicking/slipping” but have you felt it seemingly “pop out” of place when shifting your arm in a certain position or any locking or catching feeling? If you have, when did it start to go away?
    Also, you said you had no pain when lifting, how about any pain or discomfort if you kept your arm in a position that might require your shoulder to flex or be angled a certain way (while not lifting weights)? One more question, when did you ever feel any pain in your shoulder and by doing what?
    Please let me know.

    Thanks!
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  23. #23
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    Originally Posted by Notlivin View Post
    Hello, thank you for your posts and the updates. I wanted to ask if you remember ever experiencing a catching/locking sensation at any moment since you obtained your injury? I realized that you mentioned “clicking/slipping” but have you felt it seemingly “pop out” of place when shifting your arm in a certain position or any locking or catching feeling? If you have, when did it start to go away?
    Also, you said you had no pain when lifting, how about any pain or discomfort if you kept your arm in a position that might require your shoulder to flex or be angled a certain way (while not lifting weights)? One more question, when did you ever feel any pain in your shoulder and by doing what?
    Please let me know.

    Thanks!
    Yes, I did feel it click and "lock up" a bit, but that happened even before the injury, and also happens more severely on my elbows. I believe the clicking was worse after the injury but that may have been due to my trying to avoid movements that were uncomfortable. Having my arm above my head while showering, and especially while sleeping on my stomach were my big issues. It took almost a year and a half to regain enough pain free range of movement to sleep on my arm again, but it finally happened for me. Really, after the first few weeks the only long term pain I had was at the ends of my range of motion, and to a lesser degree, keeping my arm extended while driving stick, or at the 12 o'clock position on the steering wheel. Hope that helps. Good luck with your recover.
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    I may as well chime in too.
    I realised something is wrong when I had the first subluxation when doing bent over rear delt flys.

    I haven't had a subluxation since beefing up my rotator cuff. I had to adjust my training when I got back into it, which included very limited pressing, no pull ups and no exercises where my arms were far away from my body (e.g flys of all kinds).

    I have only just started doing pull ups with a limited ROM and pressing while lying on the floor. Its coming along well.

    Devise a plan to strengthen your rotator cuff and stick to it. Good luck with your recovery.
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  25. #25
    Registered User MKIV_'s Avatar
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    UPDATE: So it has been 8 months since I tore both labrums. Though the extent of the tear was unknown, my shoulder stability was poor, pain was intense and there was a lot of clicking with small day to day activities including lying in bed.

    Coupled with the shoulders, I also did my back which is now also recovered through massage, foam rolling and chiropractic adjustments.

    I'm pleased to report that 8 months in my shoulders feel brand new. No surgery.

    In the beginning I went hard with supplements, which I cut after about 2 months due to a stomach issue.

    I still do my rehab exercises 1-3 times per week.

    I am now back to lifting at 80% of what I was. I could easily be at 100% now, but I'm taking things extra slow.

    I'm glad I didn't go for the surgery in the end. This was a huge learning experience - We only get one body. Make it last!!
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  26. #26
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    Definitely get yourself a shoulder brace ASAP to give your injured shoulder more support when lifting weights.
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  27. #27
    anonymous
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    Since my 2 repairs, my shoulder has been a mess and my left arm is way smaller and weaker than the right

    Far worse, the weakness from the 2 surgeries caused my shoulder to track badly so I wore away cartilage in the socket which was pristine and fresh before the dr did his "simple repair" on it

    Wouldn't have done the surgery if I could go back in time
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    Not now chief... TonySturch's Avatar
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    MKIV, thats awesome to hear. Keep it up and good luck with it.

    Halfway, sorry to hear that man. Was it a labrum repair? Do you think the shoulder tracking might have happened anyway just simply trying to avoid any pain? Was the surgeon someone who specializes in sports, or was his objective simply to put your shoulder back together for the average couch potato lifestyle? No matter what, I'm sorry to hear this. I hope you can find some range of motion that doesnt cause you any grief and eventually things heal back up a bit. good luck.
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  29. #29
    anonymous
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    Originally Posted by TonySturch View Post
    MKIV, thats awesome to hear. Keep it up and good luck with it.

    Halfway, sorry to hear that man. Was it a labrum repair? Do you think the shoulder tracking might have happened anyway just simply trying to avoid any pain? Was the surgeon someone who specializes in sports, or was his objective simply to put your shoulder back together for the average couch potato lifestyle? No matter what, I'm sorry to hear this. I hope you can find some range of motion that doesnt cause you any grief and eventually things heal back up a bit. good luck.
    2 minor (2 suture) posterior labrum repairs, performed by one of the top surgeons in the state - he's the team surgeon for the A's and has repaired multi million dollar shoulders (and had done both my hips and my left bicep with great results in the past)

    I couldn't have had better odds but it still had a chit result, even with some top grade cell tech and muscle tech to help the healing

    It won't heal, it went from zero to full thickness fissure arthritis over the course of just a few months after the repair, which really sucks. Plus I've had chronic impingement in the front for about 6 months now
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  30. #30
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    Originally Posted by Halfway View Post
    2 minor (2 suture) posterior labrum repairs, performed by one of the top surgeons in the state - he's the team surgeon for the A's and has repaired multi million dollar shoulders (and had done both my hips and my left bicep with great results in the past)

    I couldn't have had better odds but it still had a chit result, even with some top grade cell tech and muscle tech to help the healing

    It won't heal, it went from zero to full thickness fissure arthritis over the course of just a few months after the repair, which really sucks. Plus I've had chronic impingement in the front for about 6 months now
    Know this feel, bro

    we gonna make it?
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