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View Full Version : Partial Shoulder paralysis/numbness - Need Advice Please



RobxMcCarthy
13-04-2007, 03:40 AM
Hey guys,

This is my first post here, and I will very much appreciate any input I get. I'm somewhat anatomically savvy; however, I can't seem to figure out this injury and don't have time to see a specialist right now.

Background:
I'm 22 years old, I started lifting three years ago and injured my shoulder within the first three months doing military press. I don't remember exactly how it hurt or what happened, because I was very much an out of shape engineering student with no physical knowledge of muscles or the human body. Three months later it healed.

Recently I started lifting again. I've been very careful and have avoided exercises which cause much shoulder strain.

The day of the injury:
Biceps back and lower abs day; I decided to try a new form of leg lifts wherein you hang from a chin-up bar and raise your legs then twist. I did six sets of these and felt mildly stretched out, but relatively fine. In hindsight I probably severely loosened my rotator cuff muscles during this experiment. My bicep exercises are isolated and don't cause any shoulder strain. Afterwards I did dead-lifts with 135 and 185 lbs. The 185 felt like it was a bit too much that day (probably from the hanging) and I moved back to 135 on the third set. I had no shoulder pain, but when I went to do rows I was unable to pull back all the way... That's weird I thought, man I must just be overworked.

When leaving the gym, I noted to my friends that my shoulders felt really loose and good.. stretched out. And that maybe I should hang more often.

I got to the cafeteria and filled a cup with water, when I sat down and attempted to lower it from my mouth to the table my arm dropped and the cup slammed down, spilling everywhere. This startled me and I immediately felt my left shoulder. It was completely numb to the touch (and still is 1 week later). I felt my right shoulder and found that it was also slightly numb, although it had more sensation than the left.

I have also been sick for three weeks (cold symptoms).

Post Injury Testing:
I did the four rotator cuff tests and I tested poorly on the empty can test and Hawkins test. These indicated a problem with the supraspinatus tendon, although I'm not entirely convinced.

I have no pain my my shoulder, but what appears to be muscle paralysis.

When I raise both of my arms out straight from my sides and feel my right shoulder the deltoid and surrounding muscles feel very hard and look flexed in the mirror. When raising my left shoudler the muscles are soft to the touch - IE not contracting. Other muscles must be compensating as although the motion is possible added weight makes it significantly more difficult.

Specific Paralysis:
The exact motion that is impossible with this shoulder occurs when I stand, lower my elbow to my side and position my forearm across my stomach. When I attempt to raise my elbow out to the side (IE how you would move your arm to put a hand into a hoodie sweatshirt pocket) I find it pretty much impossible.

One week later:
A week later the symptoms are pretty much the same. The left shoulder appears smaller than the right and the same motions are impossible. I know that the primary suggestion is to go see a specialist, but I'm in my senior year of college and I honestly don't have the time. Health above all, sure, but my teachers don't believe in that philosophy.

What I think Happened:
By avoiding certain shoulder exercises (I do side lifts and front lifts, but that's it) while simultaneously strengthening my trapezoids and back left the muscle grouping imbalanced. The hanging loosened up the shoulder muscles and caused the ball to come slightly out of the socket. When I did dead lifts the trapezoids pulled too strongly on the shoulder and shifted it out pinching a nerve connecting the supraspinatus or part/whole of the deltoid. Since there was no pain, I can't see it being a tear... it has to be a pinched nerve. This would make sense because there is slight numbness in my right shoulder as well.

The question is; do I have to get this checked out, or will the doctor come to the same conclusion and suggest rest. IE will muscle control come back eventually? When I lift my arm and strain my shoulder in certain directions I can feel the muscles twitching a bit.

Is there a specific home-rehab plan I can start? I've already been doing mobility training and extremely light (5lb) weight training with what muscles remain working in both shoulders. I have also been icing it after every weight training session, and have been taking anti-inflammatories.


Thanks for any advice, and for reading my extremely long post.. heh.

RobxMcCarthy
13-04-2007, 04:08 AM
I forgot to mention, I am almost positive that the net result of all this is almost positively some degree of "Axillary Nerve Damage" accompanied by acute palsy.

What is the suggested path I take given these symptoms?

Is there any way to tell whether my Deltoid palsy is 100% or not. Because I mean... if the muscle is completely paralyzed then I can't see recovery really happening without surgical intervention.

angieliu
13-04-2007, 02:52 PM
I know that it seems that everyone ssays it's really important to go and see a sports doctor and then get them to refer you to a shoulder specialist if necessary. Well I can't stress how important it is. If you are concerned then I would try to address it as soon as you can. I held off when I sustained my shoulder injury and tried acupuncture which helped initially but stopped being effective after a couple of treatments. Rest is always good. I think that people don't value it enough. I rested my shoulder and thought in 8 weeks I could start training again. It turns out when I trained other muscles on my right arm over compensated. Not a good thing.

My advice would be if it has been over a week and you have not seen any improvement, stop weight training for the time being. If you are right handed try to use your left hand if you can. Don't do any weight bearing things on your right arm. I would then go and see a sports doctor. I know a really good one in sydney who has been very helpful and takes a conservative approach before even considering surgical interventions. Otherwise I'm sure someone else can refer you to a good sports doctor.

Take care of your shoulder.

RobxMcCarthy
13-04-2007, 03:14 PM
Hey thanks man, quick question. Was your shoulder damage nerve related (IE Axillary nerve damage) or was it a tear/strain/dislocation of sorts. Because the thing is, I have no pain and I have a lot of mobility (except for a few movements which have very little). Today I actually did see improvement and was able to feel the muscle slightly contracting (where before there was only a slight twitching). This was after some stretching/mobility exercises and 20 minutes of icing.

I know I have to see a doctor, but I really don't have time. I would if it were just one visit, but because of insurance etc I'd have to
A) See my GP, who would tell me exactly what I already wrote here (Axillary nerve damage) I mean, I had to read tens of case studies on shoulder injuries before coming to that conclusion undoubtedly.
B) he will say I need some kind of scan or MRI to determine if there's further damage
C) I'll have to see a specialist
D) They'll suggest I try conservative methods first.

All of this is time and money. I know this is the right route, but I can't take it at this time.

I'll try resting, but I'm really stubborn... Are there any specific conservative treatment options that you can suggest for this specific problem? Deltoid Palsy from Axillary nerve damage.

kjwilkin
14-04-2007, 01:09 PM
Hey thanks man, quick question. Was your shoulder damage nerve related (IE Axillary nerve damage) or was it a tear/strain/dislocation of sorts. Because the thing is, I have no pain and I have a lot of mobility (except for a few movements which have very little). Today I actually did see improvement and was able to feel the muscle slightly contracting (where before there was only a slight twitching). This was after some stretching/mobility exercises and 20 minutes of icing.

I know I have to see a doctor, but I really don't have time. I would if it were just one visit, but because of insurance etc I'd have to
A) See my GP, who would tell me exactly what I already wrote here (Axillary nerve damage) I mean, I had to read tens of case studies on shoulder injuries before coming to that conclusion undoubtedly.
B) he will say I need some kind of scan or MRI to determine if there's further damage
C) I'll have to see a specialist
D) They'll suggest I try conservative methods first.

All of this is time and money. I know this is the right route, but I can't take it at this time.

I'll try resting, but I'm really stubborn... Are there any specific conservative treatment options that you can suggest for this specific problem? Deltoid Palsy from Axillary nerve damage.

Hi there,

You really need to get the problem diagnosed properly. You need to make it a priority to go and see someone about it. In the end it could be costing you more money and time.

As Ang has suggested I'd encourage you to see a sports physician. In a lot of cases conservative treatment can be tried first.

Let us know how you go !

angieliu
14-04-2007, 03:01 PM
Hi Rob,

I don't think have any nerve damage related with my shoulder injury. It is suspected that I have a tear in the shoulder capsule. I know what it is like to try to rest and it is very hard. I was very stubborn too. I dance salsa outside working and studying and also run a team and you know after I injured my shoulder last year I thought if I just take it easy I'd be ok. It was not until this year when I just about gave up after having two really bad experiences and was scared by the thought of having surgery. So I decided as hard as it was to actually stop dancing for 6 months otherwise I'd run the risk of a repetitive injury.
I think I'm a little luckier because I started physio and exercise rehab which has been going well so I don't have to cut out dancing too much.

I understand your concern about not having time and the issues relating to insurance. But I can't encourage you more to go and do it. I hesistated for such a long time and it made it harder to tell what I had done. I mean I suspected a tear after I had a MRI which didn't show up but the signs from the tests suggested otherwise. It was actually really fortunate that I went to seek a second opinion about my shoulder from a proper specialist interstate who has now given my physio more things to work on. I mean we didn't even notice that my right side the shoulder blade and the muscles sit lower than the left side which means that the muscles could have been stretched from the injury. So I do know how you feel. I injured my shoulder in the States and was hesistant to get treatment for it because my travel insurance would not cover chiropractics or physiotherapy unless I saw a GP.

So here is my advice from personal experience. Go and get it diagnosed, the GP will refer you to a sports doctor. Find out from your GP or if you can read up on it if Axillary nerve damage can show up on MRIs or if there is a better alternative. But don't wait till what I did.

The alternative is, go and see a physio to treat the acute inflammation and also ask for some exercises. They should be able to guide you more with specific exercises and maybe it is me but I always opt for conservative treatment and rest until it has been totally and utterly been exhausted before even considering surgery.

I'm not sure how much more advice I can give you. I'm just concerned because if there is nerve damage involved then I would definitely go and get it checked out.

P.S. sorry for the extremely long post

RobxMcCarthy
14-04-2007, 10:18 PM
No problems, I do completely understand your viewpoint.

To be honest, the main reason I hesitate is that I am 100% sure that it is a nerve issue and that there are no muscle tears. There was no acute trauma or even specific strain when the injury occured, and I also happen to be prone to nerve damage.

About a year ago I woke up with 60% of my scalp and part of my neck completely numb. I also tend to get numbness on parts of my legs / ankles and in my little fingers. I went to the doctors after a week, and had to return to various specialists for months only to be told that it was a nerve that had been strained slightly. Feeling returned after 5 months. I know that this is a little more serious, but I also know what nerve strains feel like.

I do also appreciate your concern and agree whole heartedly that the best bet would be to go to the doctor.

To be honest my main reason for posting was a hope to find people with similar experiences, and maybe get some case reports about what their doctors recommended once it was determined that they had axillary nerve damage. This would A) allow me to speed up the process of specialist visits and B) give me some insight on what conservative treatment was recommended.

Nerve damage is a little different from tears as far as rest is concerned. While extra physical activity can worsen or exagerate tears which have to heal like a cut, extra (light) physical activity is decent for nerve damage as it increases blood flow and speeds up recovery. The main thing is that the muscles/tendonds aren't damaged (IE why I don't have pain).

RobxMcCarthy
22-04-2007, 07:48 AM
Well, I went to the doctor and as I suspected he said it was axillary nerve damage most likely incurred by stretching.
So... I'm supposed to keep my shoulder tight to my body in a shrugged position and wait two weeks. heh.

angieliu
22-04-2007, 11:34 AM
Well it's good that the doc confirmed what he thought you had. If you're supposed to keep your shoulder tight to your body does that me you have to be in a sling? Did the doc offer any exercises?

RobxMcCarthy
24-04-2007, 04:37 AM
He said I could use a sling or just do it on my own when I'm sitting around.

The damage will eventually fix itself, the time spent resting with it tight to my neck will only accelerate the process.