16th Dec 2013


I am a climbing obsessed, just on the wrong side of 40 year old, that gets out 2-3 times a week. Always on lead if I can help it, on plastic, rock, chalk or  ice (weather  permitting) who is now plagued by shoulder  problems. Having read your blog, I feel encouraged to get my head out the sand, stop eating an alarmingly large number of NSAIDS and go and see somebody to try and get it sorted. I realise that not all shoulder problems are the same and it is a very complicated joint that we take for granted, but what gives me hope , is that if someone operating at your  level can get through surgery and go on to climb at the  level that you do, and more importantly  be  pain free enough to look like you are enjoying it (ignoring your infectious good nature) then there is hope for the rest of us. The questions are: was it MRI that gave you a diagnosis, or was the final truth revealed right at the point of arthroscopy and treated at the same time?
I have been procrastinating a bit due to the fact as soon as I talk to my local GPs about my shoulder problem they blame my climbing and tell me to stop/rest (difficult if you are an addict!) and that if I do have/need surgery my climbing days are over.

Help please!
"Sad"  West Sussex


Good question and judging by the amount of ‘shoulder’ questions I get from people these days, I’m sure this will be useful to others.
Firstly, as I have said before here, definitely get these things checked out. They will NOT go away on their own. Occasionally, you can be lucky and a niggle will clear up with a bit of rest and TLC but if you are keen on your sport and endeavouring to carry on with it whilst carrying an injury, it will not get better.
For me the MRI helped give a diagnosis that had enough information to make the surgeon feel that surgery was a viable option. But as you say, it wasn’t until they went in that they really found out what was going on. The MRI’s can be difficult to interrupt depending on where the lesion is and how severe.
I would suggest stop procrastinating and get yourself to the doctor and ask them to refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon. Alternatively, if you are keen for a quicker resolution and have spare cash, you could pay for an MRI privately and get an opinion that way.
Do not listen to people who tell you you have to stop or give up your sport, there are always options and ways round things. The key is to find therapists (either now or post operatively) who have a sporting background and deal with sports injuries on a regular basis. Be they physios, osteopaths or chiropractors etc, they will help you to get back to a position where you can climb as pain free as possible: be picky, do your research and get recommendations from friends.
It’s worth going through it all to find out what you are dealing with and then work towards healing yourself. And don’t worry, you will be able to climb again. It may take longer than you would like to get back but once you are, that rehab time becomes a distant memory.
So good luck and I hope you find some knowledgeable people to help you on your way.