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Marcus Aurelius
12-15-2010, 07:01 PM
All,

Apologies in advance if this will be long. I'll only go into as much detail as I think's needed but, since no one I've run across seems to know the exact nature of my problem, more detail's probably better than less.

Without further adieu ...

About this time six years ago, I had a terrible pain in my right upper back, somewhere in the general vicinity of the teres minor. I stayed out of the gym for a couple of weeks. By that time, the pain went away.

Upon returning, I discovered my right side pressing strength was greatly reduced. My training partner and I started a session with Hammer Iso-Incline presses. Even during the warm-ups with a plate, two plates and three/side, I noticed my right side lagged considerably. When we got to our workset, I could barely eek out a few reps with my right side. My left, on the other hand, could keep going with ease.

I was a dirt-poor grad student and didn't have health insurance at the time, so I simply couldn't afford to seek medical advice beyond my general practitioner's.

You can guess what he told me. I got a glib, "Stop lifting those heavy weights" and was sent on my way. (I wish I had the mind and patience for med school. To make $200 for five minutes of useless advice has to be nice.)

Anyhow, I kept plugging away and, four months later, I was setting PRs again, however small.

This November, the pain came back in force -- worse than ever before, actually. I trained through it for a couple of weeks since lifting didn't [seem to] exacerbate things. In fact, a particular chest/back workout actually alleviated the pain for 24 hours or so.

Besides, my strength wasn't diminished, as it had been years earlier; I figured that was a positive sign. And, stupid as it no doubt was, I was riding the best "blast" wave I've had in a long time and I wanted to fully capitalize on that.

We've all been there. When you're gaining that way, you don't want it to end. As the late, great Robert Schimmel once said, if you're banging a beautiful woman and are well on your way to climax, is a heart attack gonna stop you from "finishing"? Heh, no.

But there came a point at which the pain was too consistently great to ignore any longer. I laid out for five weeks and, upon the advice of a physical therapist friend, started rehabbing my right rotator cuff. On a twice-daily basis, he had me do two static/isometric exercises and another movement with light weights -- something almost exactly between a front and lateral raise, with my thumbs facing downward throughout the ROM.

Within 10 days, the pain was gone, but I decided to steer clear of the gym for almost another month. Pound of prevention and all that.

I finally got back to the gym few days ago. I was keen to see if I had a left/right pressing strength disparity, so I jumped back on the Hammer Incline.

Sure enough, when I got to what I consider my standard "working weight" for that exercise after a layoff (for illness, business, girl troubles, injuries -- you name it), I found that I could barely get a single rep with three PPS and some change.

Now, I am under NO circumstances ever strong but, when I'm healthy, I can do that weight for a strict 20. I wasn't surprised that my right was gimped, but I was disappointed nonetheless.

Then, I decided to shift my focus away from pressing both arms at the same time, and I focused on my left side alone.

Sure enough, I knocked out a strict 12-15 reps with my left side with relative ease. After that, I tried the 3 plates + change with my right.

I could budge it, but only barely :(

I reduced the weight on the right movement arm and struggled to do 4 or 5 with a laughable 90 lbs. I cut that down to a single plate and got another 4-5.

It's official, then: whatever happened to me six years ago has happened again, if not to a greater extent.

Since I was already in the gym, I took that opportunity to do some internal and external rotations with a crossover station. I also did the funky "thumbs-down" raise my buddy recommended.

I spoke with him about this and he's baffled. Granted, he's in a very rural Alabama town (how rural? There's been ONE murder there in FIFTY YEARS! I call that rural and then some), and his experience with strength athletes is very limited. Just the same, my bro's a sharp one; he knows his stuff. That he is at somewhat of a loss is extremely disconcerting.

I've posted about this weirdness at other bodybuilding sites, and I've been met with everything from a full dressing-down for using machines (think: a site which prides itself on the so-called "golden age" yet deludes itself about its greatest stars' drug use) to mostly crickets chirping at another [albeit otherwise awesome] forum.

Unfortunately, I'm in the same financial situation I was six years ago -- worse, actually, since I've got house payments I didn't then and two family members depending on me to boot. As such, running all over town for MRIs and sports medicine specialists' input is simply not an option right now. I MIGHT be able to swing an X-ray and/or see [yet another] unenlightened genprac, but that's about it.

The damndest thing is, I feel guilty for making even this "big" an issue about it. The folks I'm supporting -- as well as the rest of our family, which is richer than Croesus but still pinches pennies until they squeak -- simply don't understand that, after 20 years of hard training, this BBing "thing," at least in part, defines who I am. I'm fully over the insecure teenaged days of needing to be the most-muscular cat in the room. For that matter, I really don't give a damn what anybody else is doing anymore; my primary concern now is that I'm healthy and that I can improve upon what I did yesterday.

I digress.

If anyone has a clue as to the nature of my "injury," my odd right-side weakness and how I might better combat it, I'm all ears.

My sincere thanks in advance.

M.A.

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PeterDolan
12-15-2010, 09:02 PM
To state the obvious, which you say isn't an option, get an MRI! Or stop lifting all together.

My TP had similar pain, turned out he had 2 badly compressed disc's in his cervical spine and another that was close to going to shit too. He kept on squatting (only knowing he had shoulder pain and that physio's, chiropractors and specialists couldn't pin point what was causing it). I told him to stop this bullshit, sit the specialist down and told him to take another fucking MRI cause there was something up with his spine (I may have been a dumbass PT at the time but I kinda know how the human body bloody works). So he did and boom, fucked neck, lets get you under the knife! Now he's almost back to 100%. His dics's were so rooted that another mm of compression and he could've been paralysed or even dead if it was a bad compression

Now I'm not saying that you have the same problem (although it's probably to do with the spinal cord being trapped) but you need to go sort it out right quick.

Do you suffer from frequent head aches?

Marcus Aurelius
12-16-2010, 09:03 AM
No headaches, no. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I had even a slight one.

I appreciate your input. You can probably see why I'm more than a little baffled by this; you indicate an issue with the spine, but my long-time friend swears it's nothing more than an imbalance caused my weak rotator cuffs.

I really wish I could afford an MRI. Out-of-pocket, that just isn't feasible right now.

M.A.
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Mac
12-16-2010, 09:30 AM
No headaches, no. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I had even a slight one.

I appreciate your input. You can probably see why I'm more than a little baffled by this; you indicate an issue with the spine, but my long-time friend swears it's nothing more than an imbalance caused my weak rotator cuffs.

I really wish I could afford an MRI. Out-of-pocket, that just isn't feasible right now.



My brother had a similar issue with marked decreased strength in his right arm. He tried to do all kinds of exercises and therapy and in the end had an MRI which revealed the source of the problem, a pinched nerve in his neck. Surgery was performed to 'open' up the path of the nerve from the spine and his strength returned to normal levels within a month of rehab.

I believe it might be an issue with an impinged nerve in the spine or shoulder/neck in your case as well. The lack of insurance exacerbates the problem and I fully understand the issue as I too, have no insurance.

I wouldn't continue to train heavy and work around the problem. When possible obtain an MRI and hopefully reveal the true source of your problem.

Good luck.

Mac
12-16-2010, 09:46 AM
Here is a good website to review about pinched nerves and state-of-the-art treatment.

http://www.nerve-pinched.com/pinched_compressed_nerve_np

Marcus Aurelius
12-20-2010, 06:47 PM
MacTech,

Many, many thanks for your replies (you look harder than some nails I drove earlier, btw). Nerve impingement makes more sense to me than weak rotator cuffs, as my PT friend initially thought.

While he's right -- mine are weak -- that's a secondary or tertiary thing, especially after I've taken pains to strengthen them for almost a month. I just get the distinct feeling that the signals from my brain simply aren't quite getting to my right side pressing muscles.

Back when I did have health insurance a couple of years ago, I had some MRIs done for a nasty case of diverticulitis. I figure those were localized scans, so they wouldn't show anything from the lower gut on-up. (I only mention this since, as noted, I had this problem some time before then, too.)

For now, I'm thinking about seeing a chiropractor; after discussing your thoughts with the aforementioned PT buddy, he thinks I might have a bulging disc. I'd love to get the thing fixed once and for all, but surgery's a complete conundrum: save up for that, and my family and me will have long since starved; but if we continue to function, well ... forget ever saving anything :lol:

I'll update the thread when I make some progress. But I can't thank you enough for your thoughts. I'm especially grateful because I'm a regular at a couple of other forums, and I posted a similar message at each. At the first, I was lambasted for using machines and training with ~10RM poundages -- with, of course, an obligatory "oh, go see a doctor" parting blow. (Given the environment, I shouldn't have been surprised. All I'll say is that crowd furiously masturbate over Arnold, Sergio and Haney, but anything Yates and beyond's practical heresy.)

At another, I was essentially ignored which, while disappointing given the caliber of folks there, was not very surprising. (In a lot of places, if you're not part of the old boys' club, one can pretty much forget receiving meaningful input.)

Thanks again, Mac. Best regards,
-Sean ... err, I mean, H.I.M. Marcus Aurelius. Yes, that's it ...

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PeterDolan
12-22-2010, 03:57 PM
an MRI which revealed the source of the problem, a pinched nerve in his neck. Surgery was performed to 'open' up the path of the nerve from the spine and his strength returned to normal levels within a month of rehab

Exactly what I was thinking here

Fuck, for all the opportunities in the US, your health care is balls

In NZ, it's all/mostly covered by the government (depending on how the injury was caused)

Marcus Aurelius
12-23-2010, 02:47 PM
Exactly what I was thinking here

Fuck, for all the opportunities in the US, your health care is balls

LOL. You got that right, Peter. It's awful.



In NZ, it's all/mostly covered by the government (depending on how the injury was caused)I know :(

My paternal grandparents visited Europe in the early 90s. Sometime while they were in London, my grandmother got hurt and had to go to the hospital. Didn't have to pay a pound, of course.

When they got back to the States, we estimated that, had she been treated at a large local hospital for the very same thing, it would've been about $4,000 out-of-pocket (overlooking insurance, of course).

M.A.
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Amazon Doll
12-23-2010, 03:25 PM
nerve impingement was my first thought reading your post.

get a home traction unit and open the area up around the nerve in the spin.

nwtrnr1
12-29-2010, 07:07 PM
I agree with Amazon Doll, I had a neck and shoulder problem from a car accident. I used an inversion table and it did the trick better than anything I tried. The reason it works is that it takes the pressure off and opens up the area to receive nutrients and opens the spinal column. Yes, nerves do die, but if they were dead, possibly you could not move your arm at all and would not have feeling in the area of the damage. A torn rotator can also cause nerve, impindgement with the entire area from the shoulder to the spine, I tore my shoulder, scapula etc had 9 months of physical therapy, heller work and more. I went into a store over 10 years ago a year after the wreck and saw a "teeters inversion" I bought it and it is the best thing I ever purchased. Try doing some rotator cuff exercises and see if they relieve any of the symptoms. What happens is that if you tore the muscle is it masticates(attaches) in different areas pulling on tendons and ligaments, this can also pull the spine out of alignment and cause a pinched nerve (you could also have a bone spur). A chiropractor can perform an exam visually without an X ray and determine by your posture and balance, if an X-ray is needed, to find out where the problem is that would be the most economical. An MD will send you out to a specialist prescribe meds and physical therapy or surgery, a Chiropractor will refer you out if you have a serious problem too then your back with an MD. Don't delay getting your shoulder looked at the tissues can die and deteriate in a short period of time see a Dr. Good luck!