I am on a medical seesaw. One week I’m feeling great, the next not so much. The weather has turned here and it’s perfect for riding in t-shirt and shorts. On Saturday, I rode 38 miles. Sunday 23. Monday 64. Tuesday 33. No problem. No pain. Just me and my Crosscheck cruising around the DMV.
Last night I was sitting watching the Nats game, an epic ten-inning come from behind smackdown of the Phillies. Around 11 pm, I noticed that my left shoulder was really sore. I’ve been having troubles with my left shoulder and arm for over a year, but this pain was in a different place: behind and on top of my shoulder.
I took some ibuprofen at bedtime and woke up to more pain and even some swelling. I’m right handed so having pain in the arm that I rarely even use makes no sense at all. I didn’t do anything to cause this. It just is.
Today was perfect riding weather but I had things to do. The morning involved errands. The afternoon was spent powerwashing my deck and patio. None of this activity involved my left shoulder. It’s still tender. I had a cortisone shot in this shoulder on March 1. The doctor said that if the shoulder felt okay after four weeks, I was in the clear. Yesterday was 5 1/2 weeks.
I am going to give it a couple of days to calm down but I am worried.
Apropos of nothing, did you grow up calling them teeter totters or seesaws? Tadpoles or polliwogs?
Yesterday I went to the orthopedist to have him examine my wonky left upper arm and shoulder. He took xrays which revealed nothing more that a smidgen of arthritis, pretty much the norm for someone my age.
Then he examined me. He moved my arm around, had me exert pressure this way and that. His diagnosis was what I expected, a damaged rotator cuff.
He can’t tell if the damage is from tendonitis or a tear in the tendon. My guess (and hope) is that it is the former. This arm problem has been nagging me for at least 18 months. If it is related to recent trauma, the only significant trauma would be a fall I had on my 2017 bike tour to Key West. (It wasn’t a bicycle crash per se; I fell off a porch and my bike landed on me. I don’t recall hurting my left side though.)
For now, we are operating under the assumption that this is tendonitis. Accordingly, he gave me the option of anti-inflamatory medications or a cortisone shot. I chose the latter.
“Will it hurt?”
The pain lasted only a few seconds while the needle was in my arm.
Eight hours later my upper arm aches. This is normal for the first few days. Then the medical magic should start. If I am painfree in four weeks, no further treatment is needed.
If I’m still hurting, I can get an MRI to see if the tendon is torn. If it is, I can opt for arthroscopic surgery. My doctor said the surgery is straightforward. The recovery isn’t. It takes six months, including six weeks with my arm in a sling and beaucoup physical therapy, to get my arm well.
I asked about delaying the surgery until after my bike tour. He was not at all encouraging. One crash and my arm could get much worse depending on the extent of the existing injury.
By the end of March I’ll know if I will be spending my summer riding a bike tour or sitting in Nationals Park. Time will tell.