I had a post all ready to write-up this morning about Valentine’s Day and the ridiculous amount of candy that I received and have consumed up to today. But then first thing this morning I received a phone call that changed the entire direction of my day…
First, let’s go back to Sunday, when I finally decided that it was time to make an appointment to get my shoulder checked out and shared this with my good friend (and neighbor), Alicia, as we shopped that afternoon. But yesterday when I called the doctor I saw after I broke my shoulder, I was told that he couldn’t see me until NEXT Friday. As I mentioned here, I am not too crazy about this doctor anyway. I like the fact that he is a triathlete, but I was never impressed by his bed-side manner. It seemed like he just wanted to get me in and out of there and he had zero personality.
Sometime between Sunday afternoon and Monday night, Alicia mentioned to her fiancé, Jason, that I was going to get an appointment with this doctor. Jason is a medical device rep and works very closely with a number of orthos in the area. He also is not a big fan of my original doctor. So last night, Jason informed me that he was going to get me an earlier appointment with a doctor that he insisted I would like MUCH better. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. Jason is a busy guy and I figured he would forget or may not be able to get in touch with the doctor before I leave for Miami tomorrow.
This brings us back to today, when I received a phone call first thing this morning from Jason informing me that Dr. Singleton was happy to squeeze me in TODAY. The doctor’s PA confirmed he is in my insurance network and I happily headed to see Dr. Singleton a week and a half before my original appointment!
After getting x-rays and having as much time as I wanted to chat with Dr. Singleton and his PA about what happened, what hurts and what my concerns are, he took a good look at the shoulder and shortly after, he had a diagnosis for me!
I will do my best to explain:
In 2010, when I “broke my shoulder”, what really happened was a fractured greater/upper tuberosity. It was essentially like the picture below, but mine did not completely sever.
It was cracked, but still held on to the bone. Apparently, I was very lucky because it was only a teeny tiny bit of bone that kept it from severing completely. This meant I did not have to have surgery and just needed to let the bone heal and get my range of motion and strength back through physical therapy. I was healed in a few months and pain-free for nearly 2 years.
According to Dr. Singleton, “flare ups” of the shoulder pain are pretty common in patients who have previously healed upper tuberosity fractures. It is usually triggered by lifting something heavy or another (not as traumatic as the initial) fall or impact. I didn’t experience any of these, which makes this mysterious, even for the doc, but either way, the result is the same. The “flare up” is bursitis. According to this site, bursitis is the inflammation of the fluid filled sac that lies between a tendon and skin or between a tendon and bone. You have probably all heard of (or maybe even experienced bursitis at some point, as it is common in the hips, knees and other joints as well).
The treatment is anti-inflammatory meds and some very specific stretches to loosen up the tightness around the shoulder and increase the range of motion. Dr. Singleton showed me one stretch where my left forearm would only go down about a third as much as when the same stretch is done on my right side. Obviously the goal would be to achieve the same range of motion on the “injured” side through stretching.
The good news? There is a lot of it! First, if I follow his instructions, my shoulder should be feeling better in a few weeks and I will be able to go back to swimming! Second, when I asked about running, he said that the BEST time to perform the stretches prescribed is after a run! He said to keep running and incorporate the arm stretches into my normal stretching routine since everything will be nice and loose after a run! Finally, he said that once this heals, it is not something that I should continue to battle. While there is always the chance of another flare-up, continuing to do stretching and other strengthening reduces that risk.
I couldn’t be happier with the diagnosis, as I had scary thoughts of rotator cuff problems that would be on-going or need surgery. I will start taking the anti-inflammatory tomorrow and will (try to) be diligent about the stretching.
So that, my friends, is how having a good friend who works in the medical industry recommend (and get you an immediate appointment with) an awesome doctor will make your Valentine’s Day! And get you back to doing things horizontally (like swimming!) that have absolutely nothing to do with romance 🙂