View Full Version : Shoulder Problems

09-07-2004, 02:59
I would like to hear from other hikers who have backpacked with shoulder problems. While I have no plans to do any serious (read: lots of weight) backpacking until I can at least sleep without the prescription pain meds, I'd like to hear about how other hikers handled these types of problems.

My deal: I hurt my shoulder early in the year, went to the emergency room and then an orthopedist. My shoulder (right one) hangs significantly lower than the uninjured one. I had x-rays at the hospital. The orthopedist basically gave me a bunch of drugs and did nothing else. When I was still in pain 4 months later, he gave me a cortisone injection, which killed the pain for about a month. I'm a counselor at summer camp, and during the summer I was taking large amounts of drugs just to be able to sleep without excruciating pain. I saw a physical therapist while there who suggested that I may have either torn my rotator cuff or partially torn my trapezius muscle. Obviously, now that I'm back at school, I'm looking for a new orthopedist who can hopefully solve some of the problems, or at least tell me what is wrong.

Anybody with similar experiences? Let me know...

09-07-2004, 05:17
Go to another doctor because the one you went to must be on drugs. I injured my shoulder and when it got to the point I could not sleep my doc did an MRI and saw some minor problems. The real problem once he got in there was my rotator was torn off at its attachment point which did not show up in the scan, a common result for many MRI's. Once he fixed that I was sleeping good after 3 months and back in the pack within 6 months...well I was sleeping good with the vicadan during that time too.:D

Now if you said you did not want surgery, your doc is doing as told and if that is the case I say suck it up and just do it. I have had both knees and my shoulder worked on now and each time it solved the problem.

09-07-2004, 05:59
Go to another doctor! There is no reason you should have to take prescription pain pills to sleep without pain for this long! You have a problem that is not being treated! A second opinion is definately in order here!


09-07-2004, 06:29
I'm not sure you need an orthopedist. You describe chronic pain, uneven shoulders and what sounds like weakness or loss of muscle mass. I wonder if you have a neck problem.

I'd consider a trip to a sports medicine specialist or a neurologist. You have had a long trial of conservative watchful waiting. It didn't resolve. You have something significant going on in that shoulder.


09-13-2004, 18:18
I thru-hiked this year starting in April after suffering a 3rd degree separated shoulder (also referred to as AC separation I think) in October 2003. It was not completely healed when I set out and I was slightly concerned, but it turned out to be a non-issue, never bothered me at all, much to my surprise. Good luck figuring out your problem. One thing is for sure, if you're in great pain, do not set out for a thru-hike.

09-14-2004, 03:46
Get another doctor. Be sure to get one who will suggest physical therapy. Taking all those meds are not good for you!

You may have an impingement of the supraspinatus. Here's some info.
Injections are like a band-aid for the problem, it usually can be resolved with surgery - but always get two opinons, your body is well worth the $$!

02-20-2006, 01:54
I had the same problem. The doctor I went to, and here is the key, said you have to go to physical therapy and then come back. The reason is the pain you are feeling is nothing compared to what it is like after surgery, Plus the rehab time after that is six months minimum. I suffered through the therapy and got off the drugs. I blew it out swimming but and now back swimming a few miles a week. I had to relearn how to use it. I just is a sense had worn out an area of my rotor cuff. It still hurts from time to time but goes away in a day or so. One of the things that blew me away is just the way you stand can affect your shoulder. By all means go to a sports doctor but don't give up on the therapy even when it hurts if that is your only option. Good luck