Shoulder still painful 10 months after Subacromial Decompression

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i had a Subacromial Decompression performed on my right shoulder almost 10 months . i have always had RC issues off an on over the years which usually cleared up within 2 or 3 months . But the latest episode didnt stop and i has virtually non stop shoulder pain for over a year. i waa so relieved to here i was having surgery on it in july 2019 .

well 10 months later my shoulder is still painful . it is really effecting me from my love of keeping fit and lifting bodyweight/ weights for reps.. . its really getting me down .

i hope someone can offer some advice on movements that are agony to do . if im flat on my back and raise my arm so my hand touches the floor above my head i feel a good stretch but no pain but when i return /lower the arm the pain is agony for around ten seconds .

i have been and still doing RC strengthening exercises but i cant get rid of this bad pain when i lower my arm and its stopping me from lifting heavy weights which i would dearly love to do again .

any info would be more than greatly appreciated

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  • Edited

    Hi, Paul:

    I began weight training and weightlifting when I was 14. I was fanatic about it and worked out 4-5 hours a day. So, as a former and present physical fitness and olympic weightlifter athlete, I hear ya.

    I am also had surgery on both shoulders for rotator cuff damage.

    I must ask you: did you ever ask your surgeon about restrictions on weight training - types of exercises/movements/limits of poundage and reps after or before your surgery. Did he give you any restrictions, advice on what you could or could not do safely without reinjuring or compromising your rotator cuff health?

    I personally, think you should be talking to a sports medicine doc. You should get reacquainted with your physical therapist who should also be versed in sports medicine especially weight training, and set up a program of rehab and strengthening to get you back to where you want to be.

    And when you talk to your doc or therapist show them pics of the exercises you do, ask them questions about safety, precautions, things you can do to enhance your athletic ability and goals.

    I must ask you was there ever a point post surgery when you were NOT in pain? Do you feel you rushed things, maybe reinjured, and again, I would recommend you ask advice of your surgeon and/or therapist about this. You know these multi-million dollar paid athletes get the best sports medicine doctors to help them recover, and while you may not be a multi-million dollar payed athlete, I think you and all of us should get the same quality of healthcare to stay healthy.

    As far as recovery and pain, speaking from personal experience, I would do my physical therapy exercises one day and my weight training exercises the next day. I eased back into it slowly. Anytime there was significant pain that could not be relieved or lessened with ice, massage, biofreeze, tens machine, I would back off until I was more fully recovered and almost if not totally pain free. And then when i did reengage my training, I did it very slowly using light weights, maybe even modified easier positions and movements.

    It's something I've learned over many years of training. Like I said you may not be a multi-million dollar athlete, but I believe we all deserve the kind of treatment, care and special attention required to get us back to our fitness/life quality goals we are trying to reach.

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    • Posted

      Hi mike1977 . My surgeon said i should make a full recovery . he said the surgery went well and the joint was healthy with no arthritis and no bicep tendonitis but he shaved alot of the bone and he said it definitely needed doing . As regarding weights he said he couldnt see any issues to what i was lifting prior the op and no reason why i shouldnt be lifting the same types of exercise .

      To be honest i havnt lifted anything remotely heavy for about three years now ( i was still exercise with bodyweight and light weights 6 days a week before and when it was safe after the op ) as it took just over two years to get the op (NHS) as my shoulder had been so painful and post op im still only doing bodyweight and lightweight lifting due to my right shoulder pain and weakness in it.

      Post Op - my shoulder is pain free if i dont do any lifting or stretching its when i do that certain stretch its agony so ( same if i lift a light weight above my head its the lowering that kills) what i am trying to find out and address is that movement i do when I LIE DOWN ON THE FLOOR AND LIFT MY STRIGHT ARM 180 DEGREES SO ITS ABOVE MY HEAD . leave it in this stretched position for 20/30 seconds but as i lower THE LAST THIRD OF THE LOWERING OF MY STRAIGHT ARM IS AGONY ....WHY IS THIS AND WHAT IS CAUSING THAT PAIN . what exercises do i need to do to address this issue . im sure if i address this my shoulder health/strength will be back to normal .

      Its not a rest thing i need either as my work/exercise rate has dramatically dropped over the last 2 months( all gyms shut covid) with a view of resting my shoulder /getting better which it has NOT improved at all .

      NHS physio post op therapy has been a joke . you are just pigeon holed and everyone given a sheet of RC strengthening exercises to do and thas it . my Doc can only refer me back to the nhs physio so its pointless and i honestly dont know what to do as i cant afford to go for private health care .i did have a three month follow up with my surgeon and my shoulder was obviously still hurting as i was back exercising but he said just lighten the weights (which i was anyway) and that my shoulder can take up to 9 months to heal . I said what if its still hurting then he said there was NOTHING ELSE HE COULD DO AS HE SHAVED ENOUGH BONE OFF and probably a COTISONE shot would help .....well its 10 months and no sign of that particular pain easing when i LOWER my arm from a full range of movement

      I still am doing exercise band work three times a week but it dosnt seem to help .so any other tips/advice would be appreciated

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    • Edited


      That's my guess why you are being ignored by the physical therapist. They don't care and don't want to address your issue because it will involve more recommendations for MRI which is expensive and really the only way to definitively find out if you reinjured yourself, or the operation was botched or whatever.

      I also assume you mentioned this pain issue to your surgeon and they ignored it? Again, MONEY, the added expense of definitively finding out what is truly wrong would mean an expensive MRI.

      If you have another injury or the surgery didn't address all the problems you had or has failed, you may need another surgery. You may in fact be further injuring yourself, I don't know.

      Again, it comes back to the science at the bottom of all this specificially finding out what is wrong and why you are having this kind of excruciating pain. It certainly sounds intolerable and something should be done to help you.

      And I'm afraid your situation is not isolated, many others end up in the same situation with continuing pain and being ignored and untreated. You deserve better, everyone does, I'd file a grievance, complain, ask for another doctor if you can't get anywhere with your present doc and therapist.

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  • Edited

    I'm almost at a year since my shoulder op. I still get aches and pains of I work out too much... But not really bad pain like you mention. Are you lifting very heavy weights?

    One thing that happened to me was I lost all my rear delt muscle... I had a lot of muscle wastage down the back of my shoulder and back... Maybe you need to slowly build up your whole shoulder.

    Also go to the doctors and say its still agony... Get resistance bands and do it a few times a say you should try standing up stood in the band and raise your arm up and down etc that should help strengthen it.

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    • Posted

      Hi nathan40178

      no i havnt NOT lifted anything remotely heavy (unable to due to pain - pre op & post op) im basically doing bodyweight and very light strict weights .

      i will improve on my resistance band work and do it every day to see if that helps as opposed to every other day i was doing . will try that exercise too with the band

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  • Posted

    hi paul

    how are thing now it has been a while since last post. thats why i am going to pick your brain. i am 4 weeks out post op for the same SAD.

    i am too dropped by the NHS. bye bye see ya later you dont need us post operation. i dont really have a clue as whats the best exercises to do. it all seems to be about RC recovery.

    please do you have any tips on the best exercises for SAD procedure.

    at the moment my bicep and triceps are solid " in spasm". around the operation site seems fine and pain free after 2 years. at long last for a rare moment i dont have ( that pain ) . my wife commented on a cloud has lifted from above me. yes i was grumpy with it. got a second battle on as well same shoulder is frozen as well so i am even more restricted in general ROM and just getting out of the other shoulder been frozen as well for 2 years

    help us out can you with ideas if you can


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