Nov 2, 2010, 11:43 PM
Post #1 of 9
Odd arm/muscle problem
I apologize if there is another thread where the same thing is discussed, but I couldn't find one with a few searches. I'm looking for any advice anyone could give since I can't find any information online and the doctors say there is no problem they can find. Basically, I had a shoulder dislocation about 11 years ago, then again 10 years ago (non-diving related for both), and got shoulder reconstruction on my right shoulder in 2001. I started a static line program this past summer. On my first jump, when dropping from the wing strut I apparently pulled a muscle in my upper arm and lost all the strength there. I landed rough since I couldn't flair all the way and had thought I re-dislocated it, but the doc said there was no dislocation. It sure felt like it at the time. The sensation happens when I first go into my arch, raising my arm above my head and outward in a quick motion. When working out at the gym, if i really work my arms, I can get the same feeling of a muscle (triceps) sliding up and down as I bring my arm up and rotate it back in a circular motion (as you sort of do when arching). The shoulder itself feels tight, and after a few examinations and x-rays, the docs say my shoulder is perfectly fine. My second jump went great, but on my third, the same thing happened. I had an immensely painful sensation in my right upper arm. When the canopy opened I could not bring my arm up past 90 degrees. I then felt a 'pop' (as if the muscle slid back into place), and though it was sore, had my full range of motion back, though my strength was diminished. The docs say they cannot find anything wrong, but I'm afraid to continue for fear of the same thing happening and not being able to do my pull. I've been exercising my arms, shoulders, and back to build up the muscle and flexibility there, but am wondering if anyone else has had this issue and can shed a little more light on it than the docs seem to be able to. Is this just a pulled muscle, or is there actually something else that may be going on? Maybe a pulled muscle or something loose that gets aggravated by that particular motion? Any extra help would be great. I can't wait to get back into the air. Also, I did another tandem before I started the static lines and can sustain my arch easily once in freefall. It's just when I have to exit the plain and make that backwards motion after letting go of the strut that this keeps happening. Thanks in advance everyone and safe diving to you all!
I recently dislocated my right shoulder and I am now back jumping. I can't really speculate as to what is happening with your muscle but I can offer a few alternative scenarios and some background info perhaps on shoulder dislocations which I think may be related. (Not sure what you know already so sorry if this is sucking eggs)
As you also probably know after suffering a dislocation you are very highly likely to do it again, hence why you needed the surgery originally. Also you need to be very specific with your weight training/exercises in order to target only your rotator cuffs. Thus keeping them strong so as to prevent further recurrences. Also bear in mind that once you have strong rotator cuffs, then if you overdo any other muscle groups around the shoulder (pecs and back), this will in turn actually make the rotator cuffs weaker in comparison. Having said all that, If you have previously suffered a shoulder dislocation then…..
The worst position to put your arm/shoulder into is exactly the Boxman arched position and the same again when under canopy. Also doing this quickly is BAD!!! I think the Docs call this external rotation. But whatever they call it, doing the box man and having your arms above your head when using canopy toggles is the worst possible situation for your shoulder. And the further back behind your head you put your arm the worse it is. So an extreme box man with hands past the ears will do that, so will hands releasing your toggles under canopy. But what I found to be the worst was hands on rears when opening. And…also the pull being BOC is not good either. So basically everything required to carry out a skydive is not good at all. Hanging from anything on exit is very bad as well!!! So picture your skydive, You hang off the rails (and struts?) for exit, spend the entire freefall arched, reach for the pull, hands on rears, hands in toggles, fly around, then perhaps a swoop landing on your front risers. So when you land your shoulder and arm has been through the works. Then the next thing you do is pack!
So basically skydiving is very hard on a recovered/recovering dislocated shoulder. If I overdo it I find the first sign will be a sore and very weak bicep. (Same after playing Squash too long). Then anything after that is being taken by your shoulder, neck and elbow joint, so not good. If you do overdo it further, then weakness will be sustained for a period. But this is generally muscle fatigue and can be improved with good exercise regimes. I’ve not felt any muscles popping or moving around incorrectly. Certainly what you describe could be any sort of muscle strain/pull. If you have pulled a muscle in your upper arm as you say, then this will make your arm very weak. Performing any of the above skydiving moves will be difficult. If you are jumping with a muscle bad enough to cause weakness then your shoulder could be taking more strain then you really want. Especially with its history. Therefore…. You also say “I had an immensely painful sensation in my right upper arm. When the canopy opened I could not bring my arm up past 90 degrees. I then felt a 'pop' (as if the muscle slid back into place), and though it was sore, had my full range of motion back, though my strength was diminished”
Are you sure 100% it is muscle? It may have started out as a pulled muscle in the upper arm. But a weakened arm will put more strain on your shoulder and what you are describing now sounds a lot like a shoulder sublaxation. (Especially if you heard a pop when it went back in) Google this but it’s a partial dislocation that then resets. Leaving you with a very weakened arm/shoulder and you would not have been able to raise your arm above 90 degrees as you say, until it resets, "pops" back in. This leaves you very prone to further sublaxations and very likely a full dislocation again. I also found that when I originally dislocated my shoulder the pain was all in my upper arm. I thought I'd bust my arm and it didn't even occur to me it was my shoulder.
However saying that, tendons can also make a pop when they snap. (Especially your Archilles tendon. That one certainly will make a noise). But any tendon damage in your arm will be sustained and obvious and require time to recover (and surgery). Leaving you weak all the time. A shoulder sublaxation will reset, you will recover quickly but it will keep happening and possibly/probably worse every time. Also having to keep reseting sublaxations can cause further damage, nerve damage. You may have suffered a sublaxtion which reset itself, this is not uncommon, however, if you have a sublaxation that won't reset then they suggest you don't even try yourself as done badly it can be a lot more grief in the long term.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional in any way whatsoever and my post is purely the ramblings of my own mind and experiences. Nothing more. Probably much less though.
(This post was edited by d100965 on Nov 3, 2010, 5:28 AM)
I am not a medical professional, but did dis-locate my right shoulder - during a plane crash - a couple of years ago. During the recovery phase, I learned a thing or two about shoulder rehabilitation. First off: X-rays tell you about bones, but not soft tissue. You need an MRI or CAT scan to tell you what is wrong with your ligaments, tendons and muscles. My surgeon did not understand my shoulder injury until he saw an MRI that indicated a torn acromimum clavicular ligament.
Fortunately, my orthopedic surgeon works in one of the best emergency rooms in the province (Royal Columbian Hospital) and he diagnosed my problem as torn ligaments. He was also bright enough NOT to recommend surgery. Instead, my surgeon recommended three months of physio-therapy with two different clinics. Physio-therapy was a slow, painful process. For months, I struggled to lift two pound weights. Two pounds is a key number, because if you start with excessive weights, you will only tear the muscle/tendon/ligament and slow the healing process.
The challenge is to work to the edge of the pain. It takes a lot of self-awareness and a good physio-therpist to know exactly how hard to push to encourage the muscle to re-grow, but not so hard that you tear it again.
Oh! If your boss tries to bully you into doing heavy lifting - before your shoulder has healed - tell him he can earn an advanced medical degree or FUCK OFF!
After eight months of physio-therapy, plus a few thousand push-ups on my own, I was strong enough to return to work as a tandem instructor. I machoed it out for one more season, but it was clear that my heart was no longer in the business.
While I might have physically healed, DZ bullies went out of their way to remind me of my injuries. When It became clear that I was never going to be allowed to heal psychologically, I quit skydiving. I have not jumped since June!
Get a different do and request an MRI. Xray only shows bone. It could me anything from a pinched nerve to tendinitis. Possibly bone spur but the Xray would have picked that up. By the way this is no place for medical advice.
Thanks everyone for the insights (which is exactly what I was looking for, not actual "medical advice"). I've seen multiple orthopedic surgeons to which I have described all the above and they've dismissed it by saying, "I don't know" and "probably just a pulled muscle", so learning from others in the same/similar boat gives me confidence to go back to another doctor and request an MRI since it may be something beyond what I've been told. When a person goes to a doctor and explains a problem they are putting trust in that person that they know what they are talking about and are versed in all the sorts of injuries that might explain said issue. When the people who are supposed to know these things dismiss you and make you feel like a crazy person it's nice to hear others who can back you up with their own personal experiences. With this in mind, I will attempt to get an MRI to make certain there are no other issues I'm not aware of. I'm excited to continue diving, but want to make sure I'm capable before putting both myself and others at risk. Thanks again everyone, I appreciate you all taking the time to give me the insight of your experience.
That's not a bad idea. I was even thinking of switching to an AFF program after getting rechecked with an MRI. The combination of hanging, dropping and arching, and doing the DCRP all at once might be messing me up. I was going to test myself in a wind tunnel later too, before getting started again. Thanks.