post ORIF clavicle surgery - kinda lengthy

Discussion in 'General Fitness' started by NoodleArms, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. NoodleArms

    NoodleArms New Member

    Mar 12, 2013
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    Hey guys,

    I'm new here - basically signed up for an account because I have this question and thought a cycling forum would be the best place to ask since I get very little in the way of helpful info from my surgeon (or maybe I'm just hoping for a different response from those who have actually experienced this first hand?)...

    Long story short, I was in a bike crash and fractured my clavicle in several places back in early November, got ORIF surgery (no other option, was a pretty nasty injury) which included the plate, six screws and two bone grafts both of my own comminuted bone and some donated tissue from a cadaver's cancellous bone chips. cool stuff. There were some fractures remaining, but the big main one was fixated with the plate and screws. I remained in a sling and kept the arm/joint fairly immobile for 8 weeks post op and experienced a great deal of pain still during that time.

    Okay, it has been exactly 4 months now and I still technically have a non union under the plate (not to mention the incision is still completely numb). Now, I have (very well controlled) type 1 diabetes and I'm generally a pretty slow healer, so this isn't exactly surprising to me. I'm now using this Exogen bone stimulator machine 20 minutes a day to help -

    Thing is, I've been following my surgeon's instructions with getting back into exercise. I was given the green light in mid January, to ride my bike on the indoor trainer so I started with that a few times a week. Then I was given the green light to run (lightly - no speed work) outside a bit so I added that in. And just recently, a few weeks ago, I was given the green light to swim (no paddles), so now I'm doing that. Generally I'm still taking it pretty easy - no speed work, no strength training, still not lifting stuff above my head or carrying stuff with that arm, etc. BUT I am back to a fairly regular routine now where I'm training 6 days a week, at least 45mins a day.

    NOW, I know this sounds crazy, but since I've been swimming and using this bone stimulator thingie, I have been having a bit of pain on the distal end of the plate where it's screwed into my clavicle. It's tender to the touch, and the indentation seems to feel like it's getting "deeper" if that makes any sense? I told my surgeon this, and her response was to just "stop swimming" which seems pretty ridiculous to me. I wondering if it could just be the bone stimulator? I don't feel ANY pain when I swim normally.

    Google was of no help - I guess my question is, has anyone ever experienced getting back into swimming post ORIF clavicle surgery? Is this pain/tenderness normal? Should I be worried?

    Also, she says I'll have to get the hardware out within two years because I've got a tiny frame and she thinks it will begin to hurt... is it too soon to start hurting like this already?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. carloslema

    carloslema New Member

    Aug 25, 2013
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    Hola NoodleArms,

    Hope all is well with you. Are you back to normal life? Did you take the Plate out? Any Pain? Can you sleep on that side? How is the weather (humidity/cold) treating you?

    I had a similar adventure as yours, end of April of 2013 -- complex feature in my right clavicle (9 screws + plate), 3 ribs & a busted finger (4 screws) on my left hand -- the Exogen is fantastic! it really works, BTW.

    In my case, I was very lucky. I did not damage any of the ligaments. I was back to running two weeks after surgery, cast and all (yes, my ribs hurt like crazy). I used stretch cords (Latex Rubber Surgical Tubing) to bring my arm back to full ROM and counted the days, hours and minutes until my cast was removed. The same day, after removing my cast (4 weeks post surgery), I got on the trainer and the very next day, I was in the pool to loosen up some muscle on my shoulder. BTW, I did not put any weight on it -- planks, push ups or lats etc.

    These did wonders for me: staying hydrated, tons of protein, Calcium Citrate + Multivitamin x3 times a day -- plus, lots of sleep & 20min of Exogen x3 a day for two weeks. I did not touch Advil or any prescribed pain medication -- it delays the healing process BTW. Tylenol is OK.

    Long story, I skipped IMCDA for safety reasons but 10 weeks post surgery I was competing in Ironman Lake Placid and I just finished Ironman Mount-Tremblant last week. But, this is post is not about bragging.

    I have a nagging faint pain on my shoulder, specially when it gets very cold/humid (subway, office or rains) and I can't sleep on my right side directly, I have to face down. I have full ROM, but when I stretch it feels like the plate is getting on my way somehow. But, I do not feel it when S/B/R at all.

    After am done with Ironman Lake Tahoe, in 3 weeks, I am getting my plate removed -- that would be about 5 months after surgery -- it should take two weeks for the screw holes to fill up, and back again to training -- I will consider bone grafting, as long as it is not Swiss-cheesing any other bone in my body. Ohh yeah, am probably older the you.

    Hope this helps you.

    \ carlos