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ChaseLeoncini · · San Diego, California · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 130

Well after a year of physical therapy and MRI's theyve finally figured out that i have a SLAP Tear and need arthroscopic surgery to fix it. Has anyone here had this surgery and returned to climbing just as good as ever. Or am i going to just have to settle for easier climbing forever. If anyone could help me out id really appreciate it. Thanks!

Alexander Blum · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 143

I had two in one shoulder. PM me if you want to talk about it, I am so glad I had surgery.

Mike Lane · · Centennial, CO · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 905

My Ortho thinks I have a partial one. I just met with him last week, I keep deluding myself its only a acromion problem. The MRI will tell. I have had my pain for over 4 years. It causes me insomnia which is affecting my job, family and mental stability.
Anyway, lots of threads through the years here. With persistent PT you should be back to at least 100% in about a year. You also might find that it will be eventually be your stronger shoulder. All is not lost by any means, but the huge setback is depressing for sure. Just think how fast years go by. I also noticed lots of people responding being close to normal at 6-9 months too.

ChaseLeoncini · · San Diego, California · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 130

Thank you both for the reply!
@Oldandbusted I thought mine was an aceomion spur too because the doc said it was at first. After a regular MRI and finding nothin i went to the doc who does the padres shoulders. He said it wasnt and had me redo the MRI with dye. Doing that showed leaks. Ask them to put due in you shoulder. Itll save you a redo at the MRI.

@AlexanderBlum Ill PM you thanks.

Rob M · · Shangri-LA · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 20

I had one in 2009 and it has turned out great. Obviously it would have been better to have not been injured, but I'm climbing stronger than at any point since the repair in 2009, and right at 50. It takes some time though. I don't do super overhanging stuff, but moderately so, yes.

Mike Lane · · Centennial, CO · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 905

The MRI I'm having is the one with dye, forgot what they call that.

Alexander Blum · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 143

Contrast MRI. Take the results with a grain of salt. Mine showed no damage at all, but when they cut into me there were not one, but TWO labral tears. My understanding is that this is a common occurrence.

Daniel Worley · · Big South Fork, TN · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 90

I had a slap tear, partial separation in the AC joint, and a screwed up rotator cuff that was repaired in 2008. Climbing El Cap in less than three weeks from today.

Mike Lane · · Centennial, CO · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 905

I think its called an arthroscopy or something like that. With a SLAP tear the dye leaks into the tear from the surrounding sac.
I'm a plumber and going several months one-handed is problematic to say the least.
I've also let this debilitation inhibit my climbing to the point where only one old friend still calls me.
In my case the arthroscope is to allow me to plan for a very bad year or a simple acromioplasty limiting me for a couple weeks.

Caz Drach · · Sugarhouse, UT · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 310

I am going in for 2 weeks to have my 2nd one done.

The first I was back to 5.10 sport lead in 4 months and the road to get there is tough, but keep that mental fitness, stay engaged with your friends and climbing, stay close to the sport it will help your head and your game when you come back - it shortens the re learning curve.

Maintain fitness as well as you can, maintain leg endurance, core strength, and flexibility....stretch stretch stretch

Diet...i focused on losing weight... cleaning up the diet with more pure foods...also changed my supplements to accomodate more joint recovery (fish oil, white birch supplement, glucosomine, glutamen) and calogen whey protein.

The second one, was a fluke in that i was caught in an Avy and am lucky to only have had the shoulder damaged. Prognosis is positive for full recovery and looking at about 3 months...

Good Luck!

BackAtItAgain · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 15

I had this surgery last August. Before surgery I was burned with constant pain in my upper arm, tried PT and after a few months, my therapist recommendedan MRI, sent me to her favorite doc. Got the MRI - doc read it and basically said - "sorry - not much i can do to fix it" , needless to say I was devastated. So - went to another doc for 2nd opinion, totally different, we read it as a slight laberal tear and slight rotator cuff tear and fixable degeneration due to arthritis.

I was climbing again at 19 weeks. That was mid-Jan. It feels great now, so happy I found a doc who could fix it. As someone mentioned above - the reading of the MRI is not clear cut, different docs see different things. Get two opinions, and good luck! The only negative is not climbing for 5 months, but the end result is way worth it.

Erik Pohlman · · Westminster, CO · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 4,135

I had a SLAP tear and subsequent repair, which is actually what led me to become a physical therapist. I was climbing easier slabs 14-16 weeks after the repair. By 6 months, I was climbing as hard as ever before and by the end of the year I pushed another 2 letter grades or so.

ChaseLeoncini · · San Diego, California · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 130

Wow it feels good to hear some positive feedback. Thanks everyone for contributing. I feel anyone with this concern reading this will feel much better. I do.
Thanks again

SpokaneBob · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 10

Hi Chase & Others,

My history is this--during the winter of 2012-2013 I stepped up my training for technical ice climbing and climbed hard most weekends. By about the middle of the season I knew something was wrong with my left shoulder, but kept at it. By the end of the season I had pain and limitation. I thought it might be some kind of strain so took a few weeks off and then got back into it--with a resumption of the same pain. I messed around under different theories for summer 2013 and was not really improving. September 2013 got a contrast MRI and it turned out I had a Type II SLAP tear in my left shoulder. After a lot of independent research and consultation with what I think is the best local shoulder specialist I elected not to get the surgery but go conservative with PT. That basically started in early October 2013. I was told to expect a full year and it might not work. But my doctor and PT were optimistic. I am now at 7 months and the improvement is significant. Basically I am very close to pain free and have better range of motion that before, thanks to the stretching program the PT started me on. I paid attention to my nutrition, sleep, attitude, etc. Last weekend I bouldered hard (at least by my standards) to test my shoulder. No pain, no soreness, etc., that night or the day after. That tells me the progress is real. My plan is to very gradually continue to ramp up all the way to next fall which will be one year. I plan to climb this summer and be an active climber, just not push it. What I am leading to is it is possible you do not need surgery to make a good recovery. I do not think there is a one size fits all answer here, but whether by surgery or conservative treatment it takes months of patience to recover--the blood supply to the labrum is so poor it just takes a very long time. In recovery pay attention to your mechanics--i.e., how your shoulder sits, how you reach and pull, etc. From what I have learned poor body mechanics has a lot to do with this injury and many others.


Bob Loomis, Spokane, WA.

Shirtless Mike · · Denver, CO · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 5,095

I dislocated my shoulder July 2013 attempting to dyno out of a deep gaston position. Tore 60% of my labrum for both a SLAP and Bankart tears. After an MRI and deliberation I elected to have surgery to fix it. While the surgery and subsequent few months were more difficult than I imagined, climbing is now going better than I could have hoped for.

My surgeon was very conservative and didn't allow climbing for a full six months, and I didn't want to do anything to jeopardize the surgery so I followed his instructions. The first few weeks of climbing were tough as my feet and hands hurt and everything felt hard but it came back quickly considering I didn't climb for 7.5 months. I've now been back to climbing for 2 months and have repeated routes up to 12+, fairly easily, so I am optimistic I can get back to where I was or even improve.

If you elect to have the surgery, it will suck and be depressing. I got as far away from climbing as I could and tried to focus on other things. But once everything is healed you will be amazed at how fast it comes back. As other posters have mentioned you can focus on diet, core exercises, and stretching. For me however I couldn't do any core exercises or even stretching until several months after surgery.

Ethan Pringle also managed to destroy his shoulder and he is now back to working on Jumbo Love.

ChaseLeoncini · · San Diego, California · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 130

To share a bit more of what happened to me is this. In August of 2013 i was climbing multiple 11's (thats tough for me) and was so happy i was making it up them. On an 11c move there was a twisty kind of move i did that really hurt my arm and completely stopped my climbing for weeks even after icing it. When i contacted a doc they diagnosed me with tendonitis and told me to take some pills for a few weeks and come back if its not gone. It didnt go away. I went back and they said well lets take an xray. I did that and they said i looked fine and maybe a cortizone shot will reduce the swelling. I got one of those and they put me in PT for weeks. I complained the whole time i was getting worse and the PT's said,"just keep coming back." I left. I then went to a shoulder specialist who (after another xray and an MRI) diagnosed me with an acromion spur and told me he wanted to do surgery to bring it down.
Before surgery i went to get a second opinion from the shoulder specialist who does the Padres arms. He said, "there is nearly no acromion spur, i'm not going to shave your bone. Go get an MRI with contrast dye."
A week ago his nurse said she saw leaks that resemble a SLAP tear and here i am.

Once again thank you for all your help and stories. Feel free to keep them coming. I read all of em.

SpokaneBob · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 10

Hi Fellow Climbers,

I think these various situations tend to support the observation that some kinds of injuries, conditions, etc., can be difficult to diagnose and treat. In my situation I compounded my problem by initially denying I had a problem. Many times rest is the answer, but sometimes not. Conversely I am not asserting we should all become hypochondriacs, running to the doctor every time we feel an ache or a pain. But in my situation I would have healed much faster if, while ice climbing and I first noticed that something in my left should was not right, I had stopped and assessed. I did not. I kept climbing and made it worse. Then when the pain was substantial and serious I thought two weeks of rest and I will be back at it--wrong. What I learned from this is to really pay attention to what my body is telling me and if the signals point to something serious--stop, listen, and prudently seek sound medical advice. I know you all basically know this, so maybe I am "preaching to the choir," but I think it is a lesson we all need to be reminded of.


Bob Loomis, Spokane, WA.

lynchdogger · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 0

Subscribing to this thread as I have my MRI mid week next week and follow up the following week with my surgeon to discuss next step.

D-Roc thanks for the encouragement and we'll be talking!

The rest of you I am stoked to read the positive results. Thanks!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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