getting shoulder MRI today - hope i don't have a torn rotator cuff

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purbeast0

No Lifer
Sep 13, 2001
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last october i did a heavy chest day and everything went fine, but the next day i woke up and my right shoulder was killing me. over the next few months i went easy lifting, off and on, and my shoulder gradually got better but never 100%. then i woke up new years day and it was hurting worse than it had ever hurt before. i couldn't even put on a shirt without being in pain. all this from just sleeping weird.

flash forward to july, after taking it easy and not lifting as hard the first 1/2 of 2015, my right shoulder was finally getting better. then i went on vacation and the first night i slept funny, and woke up with my LEFT shoulder in pain. the pain wasn't as bad as the worst pain i had on my right shoulder, however it felt more intense when i would lift.

over the past couple months i've been lifting light and more reps, but my left shoulder didn't seem to really be making progress like i thought it would. i really can't bench because of pain, and even squatting hurts because the way my shoulder bends back to hold the bar.

i went on vacation on the 15th of september, and haven't lifted since about the 10th of september, hoping the vacation would rest it, but it hasn't really gotten better.

i went to an ortho yesterday and didn't even bother with xrays because we both know it's not a bone and both think it's not a joint. after doing some little physical tests, the doc thinks it's probably something with my labrum. he didn't think it was a rotator cuff issue, but that's not out of the picture.

so today i have to get an mri to find out exactly what is going on. whatever it is, i really hope it can be healed somewhat quickly and not require surgery. not lifting right now is KILLING me. i hate going home right after work. clothes feel looser and i definitely can tell i'm losing size/shape. but i do know, when this is resolved and i'm fine, i'm going to hit the gym HARD so maybe it will be big motivation for me as well.

the day i hurt my shoulder i ordered some creatine to try and bulk up last fall, and it's still sealed. i'd like to be able to get on it and lift hard and try to bulk up before it expires lol. i looked yesterday, and the expiration is in like 2017, so i am pretty sure i'll be good to go with that.
 

vi edit

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Oct 28, 1999
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I feel you man. Shoulder injuries blow. I developed an impingement from doing ring work at a gym about 3 months ago. Even with no exercise on it (other than running) I still have good and bad days. Doesn't seem like any amount of rest will let that heal up well. I couldn't even put jars of pickles into the top shelf of the fridge without wincing in pain.

Hope your MRI comes back clean and it's something that PT can help strengthen up! I know being out of the gym (or whatever your exercise "thing" is) sucks.
 

SP33Demon

Lifer
Jun 22, 2001
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Hey pur, this is not really an excuse not to squat. You can still hit weighted belt squats, see here for additional variations:
https://www.t-nation.com/training/hip-belt-squats

Also, if you can at least hold a dumbbell then add Bulgarian split squats. That combo is all you need to stay strong for leg strength. Add in hyperextensions/back extensions and you aren't going to lose much of anything on your posterior chain and quads (other than the ability to max a squat or dead).

Not much you can do for upper body except go lighter/higher volume and do them super slow. Only stick to dumbbells for full ROM which the bar won't afford.
 
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purbeast0

No Lifer
Sep 13, 2001
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i'm just staying out of the gym until i can do my normal workouts. i'm too stubborn and get too tempted to try heavier when i'm doing light weight for a lot of reps that just doesn't feel heavy.
 

iluvdeal

Golden Member
Nov 22, 1999
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Are you getting an MRI on both shoulders? What's scary to me is while we lift to improves ourselves, the very lifting we are doing could be damaging our bodies. The thought someone who never picked up a weight in their life could have better joints and age better because they didn't damage themselves is weird.

Any idea what exercises you were doing that could have caused this? Sounds like this a gradual deterioration of both shoulders rather than acute incident. If you don't fix what caused, it'll just happen again sooner or later after you get it fixed. Good luck.
 

Zivic

Diamond Member
Nov 25, 2002
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i'm just staying out of the gym until i can do my normal workouts. i'm too stubborn and get too tempted to try heavier when i'm doing light weight for a lot of reps that just doesn't feel heavy.

this is just the start of bad things to come... you only have a certain window to lift heavy and a decently serious injury (one that keeps you out of the gym for a while) is a big red flag to change things.

I was like you, all about the weight.... didn't matter how I felt or looked. I was strong, but at the end of the day, my joints hurt, I was heavier than I needed or wanted to be, and just flat out didn't feel all that well.

the whole purpose of training is to feel better and look better (and be strong)... I would use this as a learning situation and change your training style. You can still overload your muscles using things other than weight. It might be difficult to take mentally; it was a big change for me that took months to accept I wasn't benching 405+ on a weekly, and might never do that much again even for a single rep.....

all that said, I now 'look' like I am much stronger than I ever actually was, but the best part is, I feel a whole hell of a lot better.

I now say forget the number on the bar, that number stays at the gym. How you feel and look comes home with you every day. put your focus on that, and I can promise you, you will be more satisfied with your training than you have ever been
 

SP33Demon

Lifer
Jun 22, 2001
27,929
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Are you getting an MRI on both shoulders? What's scary to me is while we lift to improves ourselves, the very lifting we are doing could be damaging our bodies. The thought someone who never picked up a weight in their life could have better joints and age better because they didn't damage themselves is weird.

Any idea what exercises you were doing that could have caused this? Sounds like this a gradual deterioration of both shoulders rather than acute incident. If you don't fix what caused, it'll just happen again sooner or later after you get it fixed. Good luck.

I don't agree that someone who does zero resistance training could be stronger joint wise, it's just not possible. For example, a person who has never lifted is not going to be able to withstand a car collision grabbing the steering wheel as well as someone who benches (this actually happened to me btw, came away unscathed after stupidly forgetting to wear a seatbelt). If the joint is injured in the lifter then sure, but people who train daily will have more force in a pushing motion and be able to withstand more force as well.

However, I don't consider benchpressing a normal body movement meant for extreme overload such as squatting, deadlifting, carrying. The rotator cuff is a lot more intricate and prone to injury vs hips. Once you reach a certain heavy weight, I agree it could be detrimental to you in the long term - especially with bad form in conjunction with a barbell since it limits ROM. We are all built differently and a static bar could aggravate injuries due to angle differences which is why I prefer dumbbells.

Also keep in mind that our joints get stronger at a slower rate than muscle. Lifters who just started and are getting fantastic newbie gains will push maxes when their joints aren't ready.
 

purbeast0

No Lifer
Sep 13, 2001
52,799
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Are you getting an MRI on both shoulders? What's scary to me is while we lift to improves ourselves, the very lifting we are doing could be damaging our bodies. The thought someone who never picked up a weight in their life could have better joints and age better because they didn't damage themselves is weird.

Any idea what exercises you were doing that could have caused this? Sounds like this a gradual deterioration of both shoulders rather than acute incident. If you don't fix what caused, it'll just happen again sooner or later after you get it fixed. Good luck.

only got one on my left but the prescription was for both, didn't even realize that or else i would have just done it but there wasn't enough time. so only the left.

this is just the start of bad things to come... you only have a certain window to lift heavy and a decently serious injury (one that keeps you out of the gym for a while) is a big red flag to change things.

I was like you, all about the weight.... didn't matter how I felt or looked. I was strong, but at the end of the day, my joints hurt, I was heavier than I needed or wanted to be, and just flat out didn't feel all that well.

the whole purpose of training is to feel better and look better (and be strong)... I would use this as a learning situation and change your training style. You can still overload your muscles using things other than weight. It might be difficult to take mentally; it was a big change for me that took months to accept I wasn't benching 405+ on a weekly, and might never do that much again even for a single rep.....

all that said, I now 'look' like I am much stronger than I ever actually was, but the best part is, I feel a whole hell of a lot better.

I now say forget the number on the bar, that number stays at the gym. How you feel and look comes home with you every day. put your focus on that, and I can promise you, you will be more satisfied with your training than you have ever been

i've already started feeling that way over the past few years or so. it's more of a "what is the purpose of benching 315" type of thing. but i definitely do like the feel of being able to put up a lot of weight. my joints don't really hurt overall in my body, this is more of an outlier. but being able to shoulder press 90lb dumbells is a lot of fun and feels great when you're doing it. either way i won't be doing that kind of weight for a while, if ever again.

i had my sister look at the mri but she isn't really that good at reading shoulders, only knees. she and her coworker said they think they saw some inflammation in an area but she just doesn't know enough about that area to read them. i looked at it and was like WTF lol, no clue what i'm looking for.

going to schedule my appointment with the doc for early next week hopefully. couldn't go today after work cause my kids 6 month appointment is today after work.
 

Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
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I think my experience is illustrative of what you might expect. First off, don't assume that your MRI is going to result in an accurate understanding of your problem. It might not help a bit, as in my case.

I had a shoulder issue that stopped my practice of daily 2 mile swims, I would swim as fast as I could, and that was pretty fast. My best 2 mile time was about 50:20 (I could have broken 50 minutes, but pain always held me back some). At the same time, every day, I'd go in the gym and hit the weights, etc. for 1.5 hours before jumping in the pool.

I used to have pain issues that waxed and waned but one day the pain was too much and I had to cut my swim short and I could never swim after that. Finally, I went to a shoulder specialist. This guy has the best reputation in Northern California, near as I can tell, Dr. Robert Eppley. I think he was/is with Berkeley Orthopedic. He does the Cal sports teams shoulders, etc. I think he also does knees, I heard.

Well, the shoulder is the most complex joint in the human body and diagnosing its disorders is often not straight forward at all. In my case, an MRI did not reveal in the slightest that I had a torn labrum. It was only after nothing else worked, including cortisone shots, that the doctor said I could elect to live with it or he could do an arthroscopic procedure in which he would look throughout the joint and see if he could determine why I was having pain and in the process he could "clean things up." He told me I'd likely be in a sling for 3 days after the procedure, be back to action in 30 days. When I came out of the procedure they (he and his asssistant) told me that they had found a Type IV Slap Lesion (a type of torn labrum) and that they'd repaired it and that I'd be in a sling for 30 days and would have a protracted recovery, necessitating many visits to a physical therapist. They recommended one and I went religiously and did all the stretches and exercises she recommended. I still do most of those every time I hit the gym, which is every other day.

After my operation, the doctor handed me a video cassette tape (that was about 2002, nowadays he probably hands you a DVD) that showed what was seen by the tiny camera they insert into the joint, accompanied by his running commentary. My rotator cuff was perfect, but one of my bicep tendons was basically shredded, torn from the labrum. They anchored it back on, pinning it in place with 2 dissolving screws. I watched that thing around 20 times! He told me after the operation that in a year I'd be 100%. I'm not sure that I ever got there but it's a ton better. I wouldn't chance swimming the way I used to though, the doctor told me he was surprised I lasted as long as I did with my workouts.
 
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purbeast0

No Lifer
Sep 13, 2001
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Muse, with your shoulder pain did you ever feel it in your bicep or anywhere else? Sometimes I will feel pain that feels like it's almost radiating down to my lat. it's very mild but I feel it.
 

bradley

Diamond Member
Jan 9, 2000
3,671
2
81
I pulled something in my shoulders going too hard on overhead presses.
I was in pain for a few weeks and couldn't lift.
This exercise fixed me.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7roiVfOE-E

Bam. Warming up with shoulder dislocations would save people so many injuries at the gym. They perform a number of important tasks: help to create balance between pushing/pulling movements, increase mobility/flexibility, but also stabilize the scapula and reverse forward shoulder and head posture. Heavy pressing movements with rounded shoulders is just an invitation to long-term injury.
 

Muse

Lifer
Jul 11, 2001
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Muse, with your shoulder pain did you ever feel it in your bicep or anywhere else? Sometimes I will feel pain that feels like it's almost radiating down to my lat. it's very mild but I feel it.
This was 13 years ago but I do remember that there was pain radiating down the arm. I don't recall it radiating down my lat.

I'm actually having symptoms that seem a lot like I had back in 2002 and earlier. The injury actually occurred, near as I can tell, around 1995. I had to give up swimming at that time. I have not done any swimming since the surgery, but I do hit the weight room every other day and I think that has brought on what might be another labrum tear, AFAIK. It feels very similar. I am having elbow problems and the hand has problems too. My sister, who just got her advanced degree in physical therapy, thinks the elbow pain is strictly referred from the shoulder, but I'm not too sure about that. But I think there is some referred pain down the arm. I'm going to see my doctor in a week and maybe an MRI is in the cards, or several for those 3 locations in the left arm. Now, last time I had an MRI on the left shoulder it didn't reveal anything, so obviously you can't depend on them to diagnose shoulder problems, to say the least! It was analyzed by the doctor who operated on me, Dr. Eppley and they say he's the best. But he couldn't see the torn labrum from the scans they did. :cool: I'm feeling better the last couple of days, but Friday and Saturday, it was hard to sleep.
 
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