Celebrity Bike-Ride Shoulder Injuries
It's likely that lots of people injured their shoulders while riding bikes (more precisely, when falling off bikes) last week; shoulder crackups are among the most common bicycle-related injuries. But the two whose accidents made news are Lance Armstrong and Matt Lauer.
Armstrong and Lauer suffered two different shoulder injuries under two dramatically different sets of circumstances. Pro cyclist Armstrong, riding in a 5-day race in Spain, got caught up short by a pileup of fellow bicyclers who had fallen in his path. When he flew over his handlebars, he shattered both his helmet and his clavicle, otherwise known as his collarbone.
Amateur-but-avid biker Lauer, out for a recreational spin on Long Island, was thrown off his bike when he braked hard to avoid hitting a deer that had leapt into his path. He too flew over the handlebars, dislocating one of the two joints in his shoulder, the acromioclavicular one on the top.
Both injuries required surgery: Armstrong's involved screwing the broken bone bits onto a plate. Lauer's dislocation likely required reconstruction of ligaments and insertion of a screw to hold the joint in place, says Jeffrey Lovallo, the upper-extremity specialist for the Anderson Orthopaedic Clinic in Arlington, who didn't treat either man but has dealt with many bike-related shoulder bangups.
Shoulder injuries such as these are terribly painful, Lovallo says. They also can be unsettling because the shoulder bones are so close to the skin, they often "tent" the skin when they break. That's not something you want to see.
But both injuries are likely to heal relatively quickly, within 12 weeks at the outside, Lovallo adds.
Both bicyclists were wearing helmets, which likely saved them from catastrophic injuries. But Lovallo says there's not much a cyclist can do to protect shoulders from a fall. "When you fall on the point on the outside of your shoulder, the force jams it into your body," he says. "The outside of the shoulder pushes everything in. Something's got to give."
Okay, I've officially got the heebie jeebies. Same way I felt when my friend told me about getting caught up in an ocean wave and slammed into the hard sand. He reported that he could hear his collarbone snap. Yikes.
Let's hear your shoulder-injury stories. And your bicycle-injury ones, too. Was your recovery swift and permanent, or do you have lingering effects?
Jennifer LaRue Huget
March 27, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Bike Safety , Family Health , General Health
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