My EDS Physical Therapy Helped an Old Injury

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

by Karen Del Vecchio |

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Unexpected Benefit

I realize that in most of my columns I’ve talked about my injured ankle and knee, as those are the wounds I’ve been having the most trouble with following my fall off of Spotty in November. Honestly, though, the joint that by far tends to cause me the most trouble is my right shoulder. It’s an old injury, and the long-term problems I’ve had with it are a large part of the reason I kept pushing to get to the bottom of what was wrong before I was diagnosed.

Up until my diagnosis, I was a very competitive soccer player. Not only that, but I played boys’ travel soccer. Teenage boys often don’t take well to getting beaten by a girl in front of their friends. I was 14 or 15, and I had won the ball off of a goal kick and was making a breakaway back toward the opponent’s goal. The other team’s last defender couldn’t catch up with me, so he took me out from behind. My dad, who was there, said that I did a half-flip in the air and landed with all my weight on the back of my right shoulder. I broke my collarbone, tore my trapezius muscle, and dislocated my shoulder, and over time, the concussion of the injury caused a bone spur to develop.

Since I wasn’t diagnosed for another eight years or so, I was treated the same as anyone else with this kind of injury, but my pain only increased and my range of motion decreased. I had less than 25 percent range of motion in my arm for years, and I was in near-constant pain. I just ignored it and kept doing what I wanted, including playing soccer.

After my diagnosis, I got into some heavy physical therapy. It took almost two years, but I improved dramatically with a specially tailored program and some amazingly dedicated physical therapists (thanks, Mary Catherine and Lisa!). Since then, I have continued to improve with regular bodywork and massage, and my recent addition of Pilates. I have finally reached a point where I have probably 85 to 90 percent range of motion, and most days it doesn’t bother me too much.

I never thought my shoulder would get there, honestly, and although it sometimes flares up, like it is when I’m writing this, I now know that I can get it back under control. I have a massage scheduled for tonight, I’ve found a new Pilates instructor, and I actually took a break and stayed home yesterday. If I take a few days to take care of it, I can usually get back to doing what I want to do pretty quickly.

Learning to take a break has been a long time coming, and to be honest, I’m still not very good at it. But every once in a while, I swallow my frustration at being sidelined for a few days and let my body rest and heal.


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