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Grade III AC Separation - your experience?

Oct. 17, 2019, 4:43 p.m.
Posts: 230
Joined: May 31, 2005

Hi Dean.

I'm a little over 3 years in from a grade 3. 63 years young. Did some physio at first but not for too long.

2 years later I tore the rotator cuff, same shoulder. Brutal but currently manageable. 

Get some serious aching sometimes but most of the time it's good. Doesn't hinder the riding.

Remember that these ac separations are complete tears of the ligaments and there's no healing from that.

The best thing you can do is keep working on muscle strength in the area.

I was advised that surgery for the ac separation is many times worse than the original injury and outcomes are commonly not positive.

Got the same advice for the rotator cuff and things are working pretty good for the moment.

Good Luck and hope it gets better.

TEAM CRAFTY

Oct. 17, 2019, 5:37 p.m.
Posts: 689
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

you could also look into a shoulder brace or sling to give you some extra support in the event of a crash while out on the trails.

this is a picture I took this morning with my own brace on.

you can get them on amazon for under $100

https://www.amazon.ca/EVS-Sports-Shoulder-Brace-XX-Large/dp/B007NVSWE0/ref=asc_df_B007NVSWE0/?tag=googleshopc0c-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=292927229241&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=166358155896263523&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1001970&hvtargid=pla-436204911313&psc=1

Oct. 17, 2019, 10:52 p.m.
Posts: 841
Joined: Nov. 18, 2015

Thanks Syncro!!!

I looked around local for a brace and best anyone could recommend me was a brace for broken collarbones, which I rode with for a long time but was actually pretty useless. Those look way better. For sure, they will help.

I’ll figure out best one and buy it tomorrow. Amazon. Who knew. Thanks again!!


 Last edited by: Ddean on Oct. 17, 2019, 10:56 p.m., edited 1 time in total.
Oct. 17, 2019, 11:31 p.m.
Posts: 26
Joined: Aug. 6, 2004

Hey Dean!

Blew out my right side bad a number of years ago also grade III plus blown RC with no surgery. Every single time I went over the bars it only ruined every bit of healing I had done. 6 months plus of nasty pain again all for nothing. Wearing a back pack... ouch!

I had to adjust my riding to keep the wheels on the ground and learn to enjoy the climb. It was the only way I could keep going. Had to switch my dominant side to my left for trail building so I would not re-injure myself.

As of now I have been 2 years with only minor aches that I can work out with a tennis ball.

Take it slow and try to build up your injured side and adjust your lifestyle is what I advise. Chronic pain is no joke.

Oct. 18, 2019, 8:53 a.m.
Posts: 1703
Joined: Feb. 26, 2015

Posted by: Ddean

Thanks Syncro!!!

I looked around local for a brace and best anyone could recommend me was a brace for broken collarbones, which I rode with for a long time but was actually pretty useless. Those look way better. For sure, they will help.

I’ll figure out best one and buy it tomorrow. Amazon. Who knew. Thanks again!!

And stop crashing you maniac.

Oct. 18, 2019, 10:20 a.m.
Posts: 841
Joined: Nov. 18, 2015

Posted by: Silk

Hey Dean!

Blew out my right side bad a number of years ago also grade III plus blown RC with no surgery. Every single time I went over the bars it only ruined every bit of healing I had done. 6 months plus of nasty pain again all for nothing. Wearing a back pack... ouch!

I had to adjust my riding to keep the wheels on the ground and learn to enjoy the climb. It was the only way I could keep going. Had to switch my dominant side to my left for trail building so I would not re-injure myself.

As of now I have been 2 years with only minor aches that I can work out with a tennis ball.

Take it slow and try to build up your injured side and adjust your lifestyle is what I advise. Chronic pain is no joke.

Not that I was ever a jumper but Im wheels on the ground too now (I have Park season pass and did 2 ALine laps this year) and I usually take go-arounds on the sketchiest stuff that are new to me and which I havent seen before. I never just hope for the best and dive in - always a calculation these days....and when upside is nil and downside is real, the math pushes me to the go around on new stuff a lot. Im glad to hear that you've been doing well with a Grade III Silk. I knew someone had to be in a similar situation - and thanks so much for glorious Pipeline! Beauty trail. You're keeping it real.

Oct. 18, 2019, 10:28 a.m.
Posts: 841
Joined: Nov. 18, 2015

Posted by: Brocklanders

Posted by: Ddean

Thanks Syncro!!!

I looked around local for a brace and best anyone could recommend me was a brace for broken collarbones, which I rode with for a long time but was actually pretty useless. Those look way better. For sure, they will help.

I’ll figure out best one and buy it tomorrow. Amazon. Who knew. Thanks again!!

And stop crashing you maniac.

Trying to do that!!! Its been better recently as my goals have changed from cleaning trails that would scare the bejebus out of me to just having a good time on fun trails, but I still fly over the bars every now and then - mostly because Im being too cautious with my front brake because Im hurt!

Oct. 18, 2019, 10:33 a.m.
Posts: 1703
Joined: Feb. 26, 2015

Posted by: Ddean

Posted by: Brocklanders

Posted by: Ddean

Thanks Syncro!!!

I looked around local for a brace and best anyone could recommend me was a brace for broken collarbones, which I rode with for a long time but was actually pretty useless. Those look way better. For sure, they will help.

I’ll figure out best one and buy it tomorrow. Amazon. Who knew. Thanks again!!

And stop crashing you maniac.

Trying to do that!!! Its been better recently as my goals have changed from cleaning trails that would scare the bejebus out of me to just having a good time on fun trails, but I still fly over the bars every now and then - mostly because Im being too cautious with my front brake because Im hurt!

Just ride unsanctioned loamers, comfy landings.

Oct. 19, 2019, 6:25 a.m.
Posts: 1
Joined: April 20, 2018

Hey man, sounds like we both are on approximately the same injury timeline.  I blew up my left AC two winters ago snowboarding.  Total Grade III, full tears of all three ligaments that hold the AC joint together.  Had about 1.5 cm of separation under x-ray, but no further separation under load (which I guess was lucky).  My doc was super disinterested, and just told me I'd be fine without surgery (more on that later).  I was lucky that I hurt my shoulder in the offseason, so there wasn't the immediate pressure to ride, but I definitely got back on the bike too soon.  I did a lot of rehab with bands and doing wall push-ups, building up slowly over the course of many weeks.  It took about ten months before I could do a normal pushup without pain, or bunnyhop a log without feeling a bunch of strain in my shoulder, but it seemed to be healed, even though I had a pretty sizable bump on my clavicle.  I rode with an EVS neoprene brace for most of the fall and through snowboard season, and thought I'd got out of it ok this past spring, but on my first mtb ride of the season in April I shoulder checked a tree and hit rewind on all my progress.  My shoulder definitely didn't respond as well to the second round of PT, and it was super frustrating.  I had decreased range of motion and pain any time I pushed outwards (pushups, holding bars, etc), until randomly one day in the summer I was throwing a suitcase up on a conveyor in the airport and felt a pop.  I thought at first that I'd torn everything again, until suddenly I realized that I had more range of motion and no more pain.  As best I can figure, that shoulder check moved my clavicle, and then the act of throwing the suitcase popped it back in.  Now it feels pretty damn good!  Not pre-first-injury good, but pretty damn good.  I can do pushups and lift without pain, and my shoulder doesn't bother me riding.  Best advice I can give you is to take time off, which sucks, but seriously is the only thing that's going to help, especially being so far removed from the original injury.  The collagen matrix that makes up your ligaments takes time to knit itself back together, and if you stress it while it's weak, it just takes longer and longer to heal completely.  I'm not sure if your shoulder will respond to PT at this point, but maybe using Kinesio tape or a brace will help give the joint the extra support it needs?  Good luck dude.

Oct. 19, 2019, 4:05 p.m.
Posts: 795
Joined: Nov. 21, 2002

I blew my shoulder out almost 25 years ago now doing dual slalom on Seymour one summer. 3rd degree separation. It took about 2 months for me to get mobility back and I was rock climbing again in 3. For years after that the shoulder bothered me. Not so much in day to day or mountain biking but thing like I couldn't carry a bundle of slalom gates down the ski hill on that shoulder and I would always get a kink under my right shoulder blade for years. 

Finally a trainer I was seeing started me exercising the shoulder more specifically, flys, shoulder press, etc. and I stretched a lot more. Much better. To this day though I still can't sleep on my side comfortably on that side. Not good for my wife when I sleep on my back and snore like a down shifting semi! LOL.

Oct. 19, 2019, 8:58 p.m.
Posts: 1
Joined: June 24, 2019

I tore mine badly (I forget the grade) in the WBP, but I lived in New York City at the time.  I went to visit a young hotshot orthopedic surgeon in Manhattan and I'll never forget what he said: I'm an othorpedic surgeon! I get paid to cut people open! I love doing it! ... But I can't recommend you get surgery for this. 

And I think he was right.  I did a ton of physio the first 10 weeks and went riding that fall.  Since then I ride semi-regularly and I rarely think about my shoulder. Only when I have to sleep on a hard mattress, and carrying a large pack when skiing.  No regrets on not having surgery. I think it could be better than it is, but I do almost nothing to take care of my body, other than ride and ski - no weights or other training, and I'm sure I would benefit from it if I did so...  Maybe when my kids are older.

Oct. 20, 2019, 8:12 a.m.
Posts: 6
Joined: Sept. 22, 2019

Its all about maintenance and massage in my opinion. Most of the surgeries limit your range of motion so I quickly ruled those out. Find a really good massage therapist and get a massage ball and foam roller to hit the hot spots. My experience is that the structure around the injury is causing the pain due to guarding. Strength and range of motion are your best bets imho. The first 2 years suck but them its manageable.    Good luck!

Nov. 4, 2019, 6:44 p.m.
Posts: 841
Joined: Nov. 18, 2015

I’ve got a bunch of updates.

Bad news is that my separation has been reclassified as a Grade 5. The good news is that it has strong potential to be livable without surgery. Shoulder girdle and traps and delta are all strong and should respond well to proper attention  

I picked up one of those braces and while I had high hopes, after riding with it for 4 or 5 rides, I’m not using it anymore. It does not hold my clavicle in place at all. Pretty much useless but it was worth a shot  

Finally went to a shoulder specialist. Should have done it ages ago instead of general physios. Night and day difference for my injury  

The damn shoulder is killing all the time now but I’m optimistic. The pain isn’t so bad actually riding but mostly after. I have not changed anything in my life - still riding. Still expect to skate ski and DH ski when the snow comes. Still crashing! I’m confident that I’m on the right track with the specialist.

Nov. 5, 2019, 11:20 a.m.
Posts: 16
Joined: May 31, 2018

Posted by: Ddean

Finally went to a shoulder specialist. Should have done it ages ago instead of general physios. Night and day difference for my injury  

great to hear, where and who is said shoulder specialist if you dont mind...thanks.

Jan. 20, 2020, 7:32 p.m.
Posts: 807
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

wow, this thread is an eye opener. scary shit!  i feel lucky, only a couple of minor shoulder injuries all healed within about 6 months to full strength. at 52 i'm still hoping to ride hard as i can for a while but the fear of serious injury is real. it's my knees that are getting more sore and i had a minor sprain from a twisting fall last year that refuses to go away.  apparently hockey is not considered a rehab activity, who knew..   i wanna be a lanky rubber band like i was when i was 18, but it just don't work that way anymore!!

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