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Old 15-06-2016, 03:52   #1
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Shoulder Replacement

Hello everyone!
As this is my first post on CF, I would like to start by thanking everyone for their generous participation in these forums. I am amazed by the depth of knowledge and the detail of members responses; no matter how complex or simple the matter.

I have been sailing on and off for the majority of my life (I'm 57). I'm now at a point where my dream of setting off cruising can become a reality except for one recent setback that I would greatly appreciate some feedback on.

A botched shoulder reconstruction 7 years ago has apparently caused severe deterioration of the humerus. I have now been informed I need a complete replacement. I have queried the surgeon whether I can go ahead with my cruising plans and was told he would strongly recommend not to go ahead with it.
Apparently the replaced shoulder is susceptible to breakage and has a limited lifespan when stressed.

I am wondering if anyone on here has had a replacement and if so can they still confidently sail offshore?

I would greatly appreciate any feedback!

John
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Old 15-06-2016, 04:10   #2
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Re: Shoulder Replacement

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, John.
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Old 15-06-2016, 04:38   #3
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Re: Shoulder Replacement

Bones of older people are always weaker and more subject to fracture. This is a very real risk. You can mitigate this somewhat with electric winches, windlass and so forth so you do not strain. Balance is yet another thing which will be fading with age... And loss of balance can and does lead to falling and fractures. Failing sight can complicate matters because with glasses your view of the world will be somewhat distorted and this is another "tripping" hazard. If you don't need precise vision on deck for working it might be better not to wear glasses.

And finally assuming you are in reasonably good condition... it's still likely that this is not what good condition is to someone 45 or 35 or 25. Your full performance capacity is less... So you need to avoid challenging weather for example where you need full stamina and so on.

But what the heck... if you can avoid nasty conditions... why not? Only "macho" sailors who like the adrenal rush will court danger or conditions which demand full on physical capacity.
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Old 15-06-2016, 04:40   #4
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Re: Shoulder Replacement

His greatest achievement was to stand up to the US government over Vietnam.
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Old 15-06-2016, 10:02   #5
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Re: Shoulder Replacement

As a physician myself, I would recommend you get a second opinion from a surgeon who sails. I suspect that your surgeon may not be aware that with winches, davits, hoists etc. you need not strain your shoulder more than the typical landlubber. I have had problems with both shoulders this past year but was able to continue cruising simply by being carefull. If you stick to the typical cruising routes and avoid heroics I see no reason why you could not continue to cruise after shoulder replacement surgery.
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Old 15-06-2016, 16:54   #6
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Re: Shoulder Replacement

Mikereed beat me to it. I second the idea of getting a second opinion from a sports surgeon, someone who is affiliated with professional teams, and who is dedicated not only to cutting on you, but to returning you to optimum function. You may need to enroll in a private health care plan. [fwiw, there is a huge sports medicine clinic in Narabeen, NSW where much of the practice is for professional athletes.]

Your case sounds pretty tricky, if you already have degeneration of your humerus, so you should (imo) try and find out who the best shoulder surgeon in Oz is, and get on his/her waiting list. In your shoes, I would be trying also to find out in advance about the recovery period: there may be some physiotherapy you can do in advance to enhance your recovery, and best to act proactively beforehand if there is. Do consider relocating to another area for the period of the surgery, if the best one is not in the Brisbane area.

I actually did that, with bilateral total knee revision surgery, and the initial recovery was much better, and i could go further with the post op physio sooner because I did that "homework."

I want also, to wish you good luck with it. Some good luck you can make for yourself, but a little from the fates, also helps.

Ann
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Old 16-06-2016, 03:43   #7
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Re: Shoulder Replacement

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Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, John.
Thank you Gord!
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Old 16-06-2016, 04:35   #8
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Re: Shoulder Replacement

Thank you Mike and Ann very much for your input! Excellent Advice

You are dead right Ann! After my original shoulder reconstruction debacle, I did seek a specialist to do what I thought would be another reconstruction. I was fortunate to be introduced to my current surgeon who is the upper limb specialist for our Rugby League team, "The Brisbane Broncos". I am equally fortunate to have very good private health insurance. The pre-op physio sounds like a great plan.

My first thought's Mike, after my last consult was, "I bet he doesn't sail". I never thought to ask at the time; I was very taken aback (naively) when shown how severe the damage was. His main concern for doing the "Op" now is that I am still physically active, albeit with very limited mobility in my left arm. Apparently, most replacements are done after your physically active years are behind you. Sailing in my present condition is out of the question.

After much due diligence , my next boat will be a Catana 431/471. Standard equipment is at least one electric winch for the main halyard, reefing lines, topping lift and outhaul. I will discuss the benefits of these attributes with my surgeon.

Finally, I know their are plenty of physically challenged sailors out there, with more limitations than myself, getting it done.

Thank you very, very much for your thoughts. It is greatly appreciated!

John
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Old 16-06-2016, 15:06   #9
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Re: Shoulder Replacement

You know, John, your surgeon may also know a surgeon who is a sailor, and might even be understanding when you ask him to set it up for you to see him.

Don't know if you're a member of RQYS, but they may have such a member, too.

Even if they're only isometrics, anything at all you can do to help the soft tissues will be a plus.

Ann
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Old 17-06-2016, 04:24   #10
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Re: Shoulder Replacement

Very good point Ann. I was a member at Morton Bay but did sail out of RQ on occasion. I will do ask around. I still have my pulley setup and bungee from my reconstruction physiotherapy. I have started exercising to increase my range of motion.

I believe my surgeons main concern was falling. He was equally concerned with my cycling for this reason; another sport I love.

Thank you for your input

John
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Old 17-06-2016, 10:20   #11
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Re: Shoulder Replacement

John,

I think you will find, if you have not already, that sailing a cat, with it's more stable platform, is far less physically demanding than a similar size mono. The Catana, with it's electric winch, would be perfect.
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Old 17-06-2016, 12:01   #12
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Re: Shoulder Replacement

I hope you can find that you can cruise after rotator cuff surgery. But don't underestimate the recovery time and pain of regaining use of your arm and shoulder. I think I am a special case as some recover much quicker. After 3 months I still have a lot of pain and limited range of motion. I'm in my mid-60's so I think there is an age factor here but I have been a "stiffy" for my whole life anyway so may be I am not the norm.

I haven't been able to do much on my boat since then and getting frustrated by that.

I have been told my so many people that shoulder surgery can be the most painful of anything other than knew surgery. Be sure and do your stretching and other therapy exercises or your shoulder will not heal right. There will be an initial period of doing nothing except protect the joint. Follow the advice of the doctor and therapists.

Good luck and I hope you do better than me.
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Old 17-06-2016, 12:41   #13
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Re: Shoulder Replacement

I've had several surgeries to correct problems on my right shoulder, and they were successful. I was given advice by the surgeons who did the work about how I can move my arms. I have abided by this for the most part.

So about a month ago, and trying to get in shape for sailing as a person in their 60's, I went from a 15lb dumbbell to a 20lb. I was warmed up really well and I was almost done, having lifted other weights, and pow, first lift, and a pop of my shoulder that the whole room could hear. This is going to be 20 grand to fix.

There are a lot of moves a sailor makes that you don't make in your office or home. The surgeons and their support therapists told me to never lift my arms up by my side above and over my head.

Every person is different, some are supermen, some break apart easily and everything in between. Older people like myself have it the hardest with bones and joints. Sadly, I may be looking for a motorboat instead, as a result of my weightlifting accident.

I'm no doctor, but my advice after numerous shoulder surgeries is no. It's just too damn easy to break with some unusual/unfamiliar move on a boat.

I have a wife, kids, and some nephews that are always available to help me, so maybe I can pull a rabbit out of hat and go sailing.
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Old 17-06-2016, 13:11   #14
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Re: Shoulder Replacement

Sorry for the negativity above, but my whole dream of sailing went down the drain with that one lift of a dumbbell. They don't call them dumbbells for nothing! Keep in mind that it's a two year recovery of rehab before you're back to 'normal'. I don't think I have that much time.

I don't think you'll find any doctor with experience with this kind of surgery that would tell you to go sailing. Broad statement, but I think it's generally true, BUT there are plenty of sailors out there after having had this kind of surgery. (They did the sailing moves a long time before the surgery.)
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Old 17-06-2016, 15:19   #15
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Re: Shoulder Replacement

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John,

I think you will find, if you have not already, that sailing a cat, with it's more stable platform, is far less physically demanding than a similar size mono. The Catana, with it's electric winch, would be perfect.
Thanks Mike!
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