This is the story of my dislocated shoulder recovery.
Bikers: If you get nothing else from this post, watch this video Showing Kocher’s method for putting your shoulder back in (I paid a very nice ER doc $800 for a live demonstration). Of course, you should see a doctor as soon as you can, but maybe it will spare you a scary hike.
One Sunday (July 25, 2015) when I was bored with riding on the road, I took off for a trail ride. It was an amazing 45 minutes before I got into trouble. I started on the beginner trails at Duthie Hill. Even though it was a damp morning, the trail was so nice I kicked myself for not going up there once a week all summer.
I started slowly and cautiously. I’ve had bad luck falling off my mountain bike – a couple times since I got it last year. After the beginner trail, I went to another nearby Grand Ridge trail which is more difficult (see photo above). I rode a ways out before turning around. Unfortunately on the way back I hit a loose patch of gravel on the outside of a narrow turn. My front wheel washed out to the right and I flew like superman into the ground – landing mostly on my chest. I landed with just the right forced to dislocate my left shoulder.
A nice young lady came along two minutes later. I asked her “This doesn’t look normal does it?” showing her my shoulder. “No,” she said. She graciously pushed both of our bikes out while I hiked. I carried the weight of my left arm in my right-hand. Surprisingly, it was not that painful. I didn’t relax until we hiked / jogged for about 20 minutes out to the road.
I’m writing this post to share some of the supplements I found trying to accelerate my recovery. Unfortunately, it’s been very slow. Over a hundred days now. I was able to get back on my bike after about 2 1/2 months, but I completely missed the last month of the race season. Luckily, it was only about two weeks that my arm was in a sling and I couldn’t type. It seems like my shoulder will be back to normal around the end of the year (5 months total).
Here are some of the supplements I that I tried.
- Gelatin (collagen) – (helps re-grow tissue)
- Fish oil
- Daily vitamin
- Cissus quadrangularis (helps joint healing)
- Magnesium (relaxes muscles)
- Ginger tea (reduces inflammation)
- Vinegar Apple cider – forget why I started, but I drink this now to when my stomach is out-of-whack.
It’s really only Advil that I can definitively point to as helping my recovery. I should’ve taken more sooner in order to sleep better and heal faster, but I didn’t like the idea of numbing the pain. I think the nice snugness of my newly reformed shoulder capsule is due to many of the supplements that I took (primarily the Gelatin).
I also used a heating pad, stability ball, foam roller, and tennis ball in a sock to release tight back muscles.
I did a number of exercises recommended by a physical therapist. Other than slowly strengthening and stretching my shoulder, it’s hard to say which helped the most. So I won’t list them here.
The big lesson from this dislocated shoulder recovery is that I need to keep working on my skills. The Total cost of the accident: a $2,000 trip to the ER, and a $1,000 chipped tooth.
Update: Day 87 (12.5 weeks)
Motion continues to increase slightly every day. I’ve started doing Tony Horton’s Shoulder rehab workout.
Update: Day 102 (14.5 weeks, 5 November 2015).
I was still having trouble sleeping last week. I can’t get used to sleeping on my back. A cold I got earlier in the summer came back. I’m pretty sure it’s because I wasn’t getting enough sleep (5 hrs a night). On a doctor’s recommendation, I’m back doing three Advil an hour before bed. It’s made a big improvement in my sleep.
Update: Dislocated shoulder recovery – 2 years later
Wow, I’m re-reading this and remembering how rough my recovery was. I’ve had two great bike-race seasons in 2016 and 2017 since my accident. According to Strava, I was back on the bike by September 2015. I slowly eased in to more riding and running, and added lots of Zwift. My left shoulder is still slightly less mobile than my right, but no pain. Fingers crossed I won’t be writing another blog post like this.