Shoulder surgery: Post-op report

It’s been almost four weeks since the surgery on my left shoulder, and I saw the doctor yesterday. The surgery went well. The prognosis is mixed.

BTW: Look at what he pulled out of the joint!

Symptoms before the surgery

The torn labrum was repaired in 2002, and since then I’ve been rocking the:

– Pain.

– Stiffness.

– Limited range of motion.

– Noisy notchiness.

– Did I mention pain?

What the doctor did

– Cleaned up the labrum. My useless, weak-willed, lilly-livered labrum.

– Removed numerous loose bodies from the joint capsule. These are bits of bone, cartilage and scar tissue, and they were wearing the inside of the joint “like sandpaper.” The more fragments you get, the more your shoulder wears, and the more your shoulder wears, the more fragments you get. Sweet huh?

– Removed a HUGE piece of bone from the front of the joint. He said it started as a smaller fragment, then the body built it up like a pearl in an oyster. Isn’t that precious? I have half a mind to drill a hole in it and wear it around my neck! Or glue it to the stem on my

– Thanks to all this grinding, the cartilage is wearing away, and there is plenty of bone-on-bone action. The doc perforated the exposed bone with an awl (this stuff is Medieval!) to let some marrow tissue seep out. This tissue has “plural potential,” kind of like a stem cell, so it can become bone or cartilage. We hope it will coat the exposed bone and become cartilage.

Symptoms now

– The shoulder is still sore, tight and semi-weak, but it works fine for everyday activities. Overall, I think it hurts less than before. But I’m still taking it easy. We’ll see how it likes 100 Laps of Pump.

– I’ve been super consistent with range of motion exercises, and I’ve been gently pushing the strength. Two days ago I did 15 clean, easy pushups. Yesterday I did 10 divebomber pushups. Bent rows are as strong as always. Upright rows and overhead presses are still tender. I’m back to lifting the “airbells” — James Wilson’s term for the kind of weights I use!

– I’ve been riding the trainer like a fool. It’s time to get back outside.


– The doctor is stoked with my strength, but he says I need to work harder on flexibility. Check.

– The shoulder will continue to self destruct. How long until the next cleanup, and the eventual replacement, remains to be seen. It could be a year, three years, 10 years …

– The doc says the best way to preserve the shoulder is to keep it strong and flexible. Check and check.

Next: The right shoulder still has a non-unified clavicle, a severely torn labrum and at least one loose body that measured 15mm on the MRI. With Spring, two book deadlines and lots of coaching around the corner, I might wait until Fall.

Also: I’m jonesing for a road/commute/cross bike with fenders and a rack. I feel like turning some miles without my backpack. Stay tuned for that adventure.

Orthopedically Challenged Braaap!!!

— Lee

11 replies
  1. Lou says:

    I am 3 and a half months post grade 3 AC separation of the shoulder. Tonight was the first ride that I have felt “normal” on except the endurance is down a bit and now that I’m done the shoulder feels a little sore. Take it slow. Right now is probably the most dangerous time in your healing process because you are well enough to use the arm but also well enough to re injure it. I do a fair bit of winter riding but my goal is just to get to the spring in one piece. It’s hard to stay mature enough not to risk the re injury but I’m trying. I too am doing the DB workouts from James Wilson. Excellent! The pump track will be good for your soul and less dangerous than sliding out on some frozen leaves or something else bad like that. Good luck with your next surgery.

  2. Sam says:

    I really dig the shoulder-pearl-around-your-neck-idea.

    Also, maybe write up a section in the next book on “Radical Weight Reduction: removing useless body parts for speed and style”.

  3. TONY says:

    the al-anon prayer should also be the creed for all Mountain Bikers:

    Grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change,
    the courage to change the things I can,
    and the wisdom to know the difference.

    Brrrraaaaapppp (amen)

    Good luck with the rehab and all you have to look forward to in 09!

  4. David says:

    LLB pearl necklace nice.
    Keep up the rehab dont push beyond the limit and the Pump Track is probably allot safer then the hazards of the road. Stay cool heal well Brrraaappping through 2009.

  5. Jerry says:

    Hmm, making me wonder what’s going on in my shoulder and how much longer I should put off getting it looked at…
    Good luck w/ the rehab!

  6. Buck says:

    Do you know a good body worker? I’m sure you do. They’re valuable for maintining flaxability and breaking down scar tissue. If you didn’t already know that.
    I feel your pain. I’m now able to rock and roll just well enough to wreck my sergons great work. I have a friend who is in the same boat. We made a deal to call the other if we need talked down from a risk (aka singletrack).

    Rock on! (with caution)

  7. leelikesbikes says:

    I know a great bodyworker — but I need one who will work for bike lessons!

    Got out yesterday on my standard sweet singletrack loop, and the elapsed time was the same as pre-op. Pretty cool. But I was SORE last night!

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