Joint Preservation Blog

January 11, 2009

Shoulder Ligament Injuries

Ligament Tear Symptoms

Ligament Tear Symptoms

MY OWN TORN SHOULDER LIGAMENT TREATMENT: As a very young young doctor many years ago, I thought I knew how to ride a motorcycle (or a donor cycle as my mother called it) and ended up with my right shoulder finding the road. This began my first-hand education of my own shoulder ligament injury. First, an anatomy lesson on shoulder ligaments simplified for non-physicians. The most commonly torn shoulder ligaments in a “separated shoulder” are those that hold the collar bone (clavicle) and top of the shoulder blade (acromion) together. There is an actual joint here, known as the “AC” joint or acromio-clavicular joint. When you injure this joint and the ligaments that hold this top shoulder joint together, it can be a grade 1 (just stretched ligaments, but the joint is still together), grade 2 (stretched ligaments that allow the joint to come apart a bit, but are still intact), or a grade 3 (completely torn-up ligaments that no longer hold the joint together or connect). If you have a grade 3 torn ligament in your shoulder, you’ll know it by the huge step off (often 1/2-1 inch) between the collar bone and the acromion (top of shoulder). If you have a grade 3, then the only long-term solution is to either leave it alone or have an orthopedic surgeon perform a shoulder repair using cadaver ligaments, a tendon graft, or similar to bring it back together. The grade 1’s and 2’s are really the focus of this post. What to do if this continues to pop, click, get sore, and generally hurt? How do you heal these torn ligaments in the shoulder? After a few years of not being able to go back to weight lifting, I tried prolotherapy on mine, and it worked reasonaly well (not a complete fix, but better). This is where the doctor injects substances that cause a brief inflammatory healing reaction in the ligaments. What would I do if I injured it today and it wasn’t getting better, no doubt I’d try some of the adult stem cell procedures where we can take your own stem cells and inject them into the ligaments to reapir the damage. In addition, if you have a partial rotator cuff tear (not uncommon), the same can be done to heal that as well. I have posted videos at the end of this discussion on a shoulder rotator cuff tear and ankle ligaments healed this way. What would I stay away from? The knife and shoulder ligament surgery! For a grade 1 and grade 2 shoulder ligament injury, in my opinion, there is no rationale for surgical repair, given these other treatment options. There are various links above for more information. Why do you want to get the ligaments fixed in some way? because if you don’t, the AC joint will develop arthritis and start pressing on the rotator cuff muscles leading to a chronic shoulder problem that will need surgery one day.

My shoulder? No perfect, but since I went back to lift very heavy weights as a weight lifter, you can guess it’s much much better than it was prior to treatment. I have never had surgery and am doing fine some 20 years after the injury.


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