The Mystery Continues

I am now fast approaching the one year anniversary of the last time I performed a clean & jerk.

For someone who describes himself as an amateur weightlifter, this is an unhappy state of affairs.

The first half of the year was occupied with getting my left knee in working order. The rest of the time has been spent trying to diagnose what in the blue blazes is wrong with my shoulder.

The pain and discomfort move around and vary from day to day; though it can be reliably provoked in a number of ways. Basically I am unable to train around it. This is troublesome.

The Enemy Within

The first hypothesis was possible bone problems in the shoulder. Ruled out by X-ray.

The second hypothesis was an AC joint problem. An MRI ruled that out.

The third hypothesis was bursitis. A non-responsive cortisone shot ruled that out.

The nascent fourth diagnosis was a fracture; which might have been lurking in a number of places.

Today I got results back from a combined “bone scan” and CT study. The bone scan test involves injecting a mildly radioactive marker chemical and seeing if it accumulates anywhere. This test was looking for fractures, so the marker chemical was phosphor, which is involved in the maintenance and repair of bones.

The fracture diagnosis was ruled out. Three things did turn up:

First, there’s some bone activity in the end of the left Acromion. This is exciting news … except that the very same activity is taking place in the non-painful shoulder as well. Plus it’s very mild.

Second, there’s some indication that the connection between my top ribs and the spinal column might have problems. This … might … explain the pain. Or it might not. I’ve been referred to a physiotherapist to explore this option. Later on we might try a diagnostic shot of cortisone.

The third thing that was discovered was, to me, the most distressing news. “… low-grade degenerative disease involving the C6/C7 discs, particularly anteriorly”.

This is fancy book-larnin’ talk that means the bony bit at the bottom of my neck is starting to look bad. The advice is firstly, to strengthen the muscles of the neck to take more of the load. Secondly, stop putting compressive loads on those two discs.

Anatoly Pisarenko, patron saint of non-blubberous superheavyweights, demonstrates that you can wear anything you damn well please — so long as you squat heavily and upright.

This means I will need to give up my favourite exercise in the whole world: Olympic-style back squats. The Olympic-style squat involves resting the bar high on squeezed trapezius muscles and squatting with an upright torso. This transmits most of its force through … you guessed it, the C6/C7 discs. I’ll probably need to switch to Powerlifter-style low-bar squats instead, as they rest the bar lower on the back. Bah.

But the core mystery endures. I’ve been in some sort of pain or discomfort since July. And the end is not in sight.

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