My fishing days may be going away

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by GAT, Aug 4, 2013.

  1. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 3,491
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,110 / 0
    During the winter, I was tossing a ball for our border collie when I kind'a messed up my upper arm , close to my shoulder. I thought, no biggie, I just pulled a muscle. Well, after a month and the pain would flare up even when I picked up a jug of milk, I headed up to immediate care to see if there was something seriously wrong.

    I've inherited just about every badass ailment that my parents suffered (I didn't pick my parents well) and I had a feeling it might be bursitis. The doc figured that is exactly what I have. Great. Thanks, Mom. The doc prescribed anti inflammatories and showed me an exercise I could do to help stretch out the muscle. The drugs and the exercise kind'a help... but not enough.

    The kicker is that the effected area of my arm is exactly the one that comes into play when you cast.

    Long ago I switched to stillwater fishing and that's a good thing. There is no way I could fish moving water where casting all day is required. But I can't simply troll around on a lake with any success and I do need to resort to casting from time to time. This is especially true for fishing the local farm ponds for warmwater species of fish.

    Yesterday I tried one of the farm ponds and thought I'd give surface poppers a try. Mistake. After 10 casts or so, my bursitis was killing me. Moving my pontoon boat to my rig was extremely painful.

    (I only caught a 1-inch bass, BTW, so the trip wasn't worth the resulting pain.)

    The doc at the EC suggested I try physical therapy for the bursitis but I can't take the time off from work for a weekly appointment. In a few weeks, I go in for my semi-yearly appointment with my primary doc and I plan to ask if he can shoot me up with some Cortisone. I've done some research on bursitis and that is one approach that helps some folks. My Dad took Cortisone shots for decades due to his degenerative disc disease (that's another one I'm sure I'll inherit). The med community doesn't like to inject you with Cortisone like they once did because of the long time side effects but at the age of 62 (next month) I figure I don't have that much longer to live so what the hell difference does it make.

    This whole affair has me quite depressed. While I primarily fish stillwaters, I do chase steelhead during the Fall and this arm thing is going to put a dampener on that if I can't find someway to handle the pain. It figures that something would show up in this piece of crap body that screws my flyfishing.

    I've lost life-long fishing buddies to physical ailments and most of my fishing is now solo because of it.

    Do any of you old fly anglers have bursitis and if so, how the hell do you deal with it? I already take so many meds I'm a walking chemistry set so I'm hesitate about taking more meds. Is the Cortisone shot a viable plan? I hope so. For close to 40 years my life has revolved around flyfishing. This really, really sucks. (I didn't get the memo about choosing my parents well.)
    Bob Triggs and flyfool like this.
  2. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 2,973
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ratings: +889 / 1
    I also had electric stimulus and ice packs to work on the "frozen shoulder" part that may develop afterwards.
  3. Jamie Wilson Active Member

    Posts: 922
    Arlington WA
    Ratings: +84 / 0
    I'm getting a second injection in my hip tomorrow. Last one worked well - for about three months. My option is new hip. I would suggest you explore the long rod for your fishing - by this I mean learn the various Spey techniques that are used. New fishing opportunities will open up and it is very easy on the shoulders.
    Good luck.
    Maybe make it into a cartoon (not trying to be a smart ass!!)
  4. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,112
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,396 / 0
    What's wrong with your other arm. I mean both arms aren't screwed up are they???? Also there is also the Spey thing. There isn't as many casting strokes in that way of fishing. When you cast a Spey rod you use the whole arm.
  5. Greg Armstrong Active Member

    Posts: 904
    Pugetropolis
    Ratings: +244 / 0
    The second cortisone shot in my lower back (3 years ago, now) and a concerted , conscious effort to monitor my every movement (tough to accomplish after a lifetime of not having to think about it) have helped me a lot.

    Now, my right shoulder has been starting to act like yours, so I'm anxious to hear what others here have to say about it.

    Getting older and having things wear out stinks, but it's better than the alternative...
  6. Jim Ficklin Genuine Montana Fossil

    Posts: 2,032
    Columbia Basin
    Ratings: +480 / 0
    I'm a southpaw Gene, but I used a fly rod both ways being somewhat ambidextrous. I've dislocated my right shoulder twice (no more supraspinatus tendon on the back side, minor tearing front) & I have issues with my left shoulder. I believe that much of healing lies in your head & spirit. Thera-Bands worked for me. I have full range of motion again in my right arm (docs told me it would never recover without the surgery I declined) & I can cast both ways once more (granted that I DON'T attempt this with an 8-wt rod, lol.). It isn't the end, Brother . . . take your time & hang in there. Ain't nothing easy or guaranteed, but with persistence it can be better. Prayer sent.
  7. nwtroutguy The Tug Is The Drug

    Posts: 239
    Bothell, washington
    Ratings: +21 / 0
    Sorry to hear about the ailment......have you thought about acupuncture?

    It has really helped me for a few things. I mean, the Chinese have been doing it for a long, long time, so they must be onto to something right?
  8. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 3,491
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,110 / 0
    Jamie, you mean something along these lines?

    Untitled-1.jpg

    Everything is worth it for a cartoon I can sell! :)

    Jim, I'll need to look into the Thera-Bands!
  9. Steve Vaughn Member

    Posts: 256
    Richland, WA
    Ratings: +33 / 0
    Gene,

    I too am 62 and inherited shoulder problems from my father. When I was in my 30s and 40s (I think) it was a considerable nuisance and led to my quitting most athletic past times I enjoyed - softball and volleyball. It was difficult to sleep and, yes, a day fly fishing was difficult. Physical therapy or, at least, visiting a therapist is probably the best thing you can do. What I expect they will tell you, along with exercise is that resting the effected joint is the most important - not what you really want to do right now. After giving up the above mentioned sports I also took an unanticipated hiatus from fly fishing - a long story not pertinent here. Working behind a desk all day equaled resting my shoulder. While I don't have the range of motion I used to in my shoulders and have to be careful to avoid over extending my reach, I really don't have the pain I used to. Also, in recovering from a heart attack and bypass surgery I now work out regularly, which has strengthened the muscles around all of my joints. I feel pretty darn good most days and my joints give me only minor issues. The Cortisone may give you relief in the short term, but hopefully you won't have to rely on it in the long run. Good luck and keep us informed on how your making out.
    Steve
    flyfool likes this.
  10. Dan Page Active Member

    Posts: 438
    Yelm, Wa., USA.
    Ratings: +29 / 0
    Regular chiropractic adjustments help me greatly. Pinched nerves that go to affected areas prevent the most efficient healing. Conventional medicine often ignores this aspect.
    Everyone is different, but don't discount chiropractic treatment.
  11. jeff bandy Make my day

    Posts: 2,133
    Edmonds, Wa.
    Ratings: +208 / 1
    I wonder if the "chicken shots" would work for that. "Synvisc or Hyalgan Synvisc."
    I had it done for one of my knees. Stuff worked so well, it feels 30 years younger. Don't know about bursitis but, it worked great on my osteoarthritis. Way better than steroids in that there are no side effects. My Doc told me Cortisone will make things worse in the long run.

    Also, have you had a MRI? Many Docs are hesitant to order one due to the cost but, it could be caused by some soft tissue damage. Wife just underwent shoulder surgery for a torn rotator cuff. This was misdiagnosed as bursitis for years before she insisted on one. (She's a MRI teck)Her rotator cuff was 70% detached and her Doc had ordered Cortisone three times with physical therapy. This only led to more problems. She had the surgery, did the post op P.T. and is doing much better.

    One more thing. Have you ever tried casting with your other arm? I also have tendonitis. When it acts up I switch to my left. My casting left handed sucks but, my casting always sucks so no great loss.
    Tony Abaloney likes this.
  12. Drifter Active Member

    Posts: 1,596
    troutdale,oregon
    Ratings: +605 / 2
    The fastest rod I have cast is a helio's salt water 9' 6 wt. I have shoulder issues from coaching baseball and fastpitch softball for over 10 years and playing softball till I was 52, at 54 now my throwing shoulder (casting shoulder) wears out fast when pounding softer flexing rods all day long or even a couple hours. I mentioned the fast rod because once I learned what it liked I noticed I tucked my elbow and just used mostly from the elbow up to cast with! the fast rods take a much shorter stroke - a tight snap is all that is needed and can save your shoulder in my opinion. compared to my 696 superfine it's a world apart from shoulder wear. A slow flexing rod makes you throw a much longer swing which in turn makes you use your shoulder a lot more!

    I thought about the two handed rods for stillwaters but I fish from my drifter and the D loop required or even a simple roll cast - well the boats in the way!

    You always mention you do not like indicator fishing lakes, well you don't need to cast hardly at all and it saves a lot of pain at the end of the day for me and holds my flies right where they are supposed to be for a heck of a long time! I can fish 2 to 6 feet from the tip of the rod and not even have to cast in deeper water 12 feet or deeper or stained water! I just angle my anchor ropes at 45% or more so they are not right under the boat and miss very few strikes at this range! the farther you fish your indicator the more strikes you will miss! At east lake in the evening I fished 2 to 4 feet from my rod tip and hooked a bunch of fish (well landed 5 in 45 minutes 3 browns and 2 kokes) and missed a bunch of koke takes (fast little buggers)

    I sold that fast rod because I like slower action relaxed sitting on my ass in a padded chair kinda fishing but put it in my memory banks how easy it was on my shoulder - try one out maybe it will solve the problem and you can still pound lines all day. or sit your butt down and catch some fish :p J/K
  13. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 3,491
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,110 / 0
    Dan, good point. One of my partners in the motorcycle shop was a Chiropractor. In those days all my treatments were free but I was young enough that I didn't need many. I'm not sure they can do much about bursitis but it could be worth a try.

    Steve, sage advise but exercise probably isn't going to help this problem. If anything, all the years I spent lifting weights and became an exercise Nazi may have contributed to the problem I have now. :)

    Mark, if I need to rely on bobber fishing I may as well give up completely :D Seriously, I actually tried indicator fishing yesterday to see if it's as boring as I remember it... it is. :p I love popper fishing for bass and flinging heavy poppers is now a problem. I already use fast rods.

    I might try switching to my spey rod for steelhead but I'll still need to continually roll cast for the drifts.

    Stupid body...
  14. Jack Devlin Active Member

    Posts: 1,158
    Western Washington, Puget Sound area
    Ratings: +868 / 1
    Gene,
    I have a bad left shoulder. Two surgeries. I am a righty. After a day of casting right-handed my left shoulder is still affected. I have a Popeil's Pocket Fisherman tucked away for when the day arrives and I can no longer cast a fly rod. :)
    Seriously, I hope you find some sort of help/solution that will keep you fishin'.
    Jack
  15. Jim Ficklin Genuine Montana Fossil

    Posts: 2,032
    Columbia Basin
    Ratings: +480 / 0
    And another cartoon idea for you: "Designated Caster" . . .
    Tony Abaloney and Patrick Gould like this.
  16. freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

    Posts: 3,713
    Edgewood, WA
    Ratings: +607 / 1
    Bummer Gene. There are times when life seems to be but a cruel joke. I had a cortesone shot in my shoulder (fortunately non cast one) 7 yearrs ago and it worked within a few hours and has been manageable since. Hope you find some option that works.
  17. Evan Burck Fudge Dragon

    Posts: 6,279
    Duvall, wa
    Ratings: +1,470 / 2
    I have a nerve in my left elbow that pops out of place with some motions. Unfortunately, one of those is casting a two hander. I can usually get away with it if I really pay attention, but if I go in to auto pilot, things get ugly.

    for this reason, I always have my baitcaster with me. turns out, having a steelhead on the end of the line on the baitcaster doesn't suck. Neither does standing in the same river, casting a line in to the same runs as I would otherwise. Since I enjoy the baitcaster a lot more than I enjoy casting sink tips and heavy flies on a single hander, I just stick with that. I still use the single hander for the beaches and whatnot, though.
  18. Jim Ficklin Genuine Montana Fossil

    Posts: 2,032
    Columbia Basin
    Ratings: +480 / 0
    Attaboy, Evan . . . "adapt, improvise, overcome."
  19. Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Posts: 5,628
    Somewhere on the Coast
    Ratings: +532 / 0
    I've overcome torn rotators, and a bad "impingement" problem in my left shoulder (needed cortisone shot plus P.T.), and am now trying to heal my "tennis elbow" in my casting arm. I troll flies more often now, and cast them less (temporary situation, I hope), although I seem to do fine with my 3 and 4 wts if I don't try to cast all day long.
    I like a good half a day for my fishing anymore. Dawn-til-dusk on a river float is a real burnout if you just have to sit in the bow seat and fish, or sit in a power boat and troll. I'd rather row or paddle more often! I like to hike in whenever possible, and of course there's more walking than casting going on then.
    It ain't "the survival of the fittest." Its "the survival of the most adaptable!";)
    flyfool likes this.
  20. Golden Trout Active Member

    Posts: 255
    North Central Washington
    Ratings: +32 / 0
    OK, bursitis has been very loyal and at my side for the past 30 years due to Coaching Wrestling and being the Weight Lifting coordinator that does way more than just demonstrate. That said, 1995 gave me bursitis/impingement syndrome left (non-dominate)shoulder surgery that went great. This was after cortisone did nothing. Times have changed since, and like others have mentioned docs are way less interested in cortisone shots because they hamper surgery and recovery. Last Tuesday I decided to get right shoulder fixed (2, rotator cuff tares, labrium tare, bursitis, impingement syndrome, and worn out, 65-year old AC joint) I am fully confident that I will be fly casting in October to a limited extent.

    Each time you antagonize your shoulder your bursa sac inflames and causes the sac to get a bit thicker. Thicker to the point it eventually raises hell with your acromion, i.e. impingement syndrome which hurts like a sob. The docs will strip off the sac, and probably shave the acromion bone to give you some extra space and a life without pain. This was 1995 scenario and may be different with improved ortho surgery advice to be had.

    You might consider talking to the very best Ortho surgeon you can find about your best options for a future with lots of fly casting. It also helps to know an even better PT person because they are the real key to your shoulder's future.