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  1. #1
    Registered User jason_bh's Avatar
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    Jason's Journey with a Terrible Triad

    I have debated doing a journal regarding my elbow injury. As I have searched for info on recovering from a radial head fracture, I have not found a lot of info out there. My plan is to document my recovery process so that it may be helpful for others in my situation in the future.

    The Injury:
    On August 30, 2019 I was coaching/playing baseball. We were at practice and I was showing the kids how to properly field a baseball. As I demonstrated this, I was backpedaling (getting back into position) when one of my cleats caught on the other and I started to fall flat on my back. I had enough time and awareness as I was falling to try to turn to my side in order to avoid falling flat on my back and head. As I did, I had my right arm outstretched. When I hit the ground, I came up and immediately felt like throwing up. The pain was excruciating. I looked down at my elbow and saw that it looked deformed. I was able to pull on it with my other arm and it 'popped' back into place.

    I was still in a lot of pain at this point, but had no idea of what I had done to my elbow. We went to the local hospital for X-rays. At this point, my arm hurt but I was able to move it. It felt 'clunky' but I had movement. When I was admitted to the ER they started to take X-rays and my elbow popped back out of joint again. This time, I almost passed out due to pain. I could not attempt to try to reset it on my own. The option at this point was to put me under and have the ER staff try to reduce it (put back into place). They gave me a drug called Ketamine to 'put me out'. I did not react well to that drug. I basically had a 'bad trip'. I was terrified during that time.

    When I came back out from being put under, I asked if they set my elbow. It was unsuccessful. I had to be transported to another hospital. They were able to put me under again and set my elbow. They took x-rays and a CT scan. My elbow was placed in a splint and they told me to follow up with a visit to the orthopedic doctor the following week.

    During my visit with the ortho doctor, I was told that I had fractured my radial head (a piece was severed off), fractured my ulna, and shredded the ligaments from my elbow. I would need surgery the following day. Not what I was hoping for.

    My radial head fracture was very similar to the one in the middle of this image:



    Surgery:
    The good news in all of this was that the doctor didn't need to put a prosthetic joint in my elbow. He was able to put a couple of screws into the radial head and that was enough to keep the elbow joint in place.

    I was in severe pain for 36 hours after the surgery. I tolerate pain pretty well, but this was unbearable. During my time in both of the ER's I had a lot of pain (9/10 on pain scale). Morphine never helped with the pain. After the surgery my pain was worse than that.

    Rehab:
    A week and a half out of surgery, I was fitted for a removable splint and started my first session of physical therapy. At this point, I was terrified of removing my splint for fear of my elbow dislocating again. This would continue for 4 more weeks, until I started gaining confidence that my elbow joint was pretty solid.

    With an injury like mine (terrible triad), you are in a race to gain back your ROM (range of motion). You want to start moving your arm as soon as possible. When I started PT, my extension range was at 60 degrees, flexion was at 100 degrees, and supination (wrist) was a no go at 0 degrees (wrist was in too much pain to move).

    The goal is to obviously get as much ROM as you can before you hit the wall and require another surgery to free up some things. They say that a functional elbow is one that can extend to 30 degrees and flex at 130 degrees. I want more than that, which brings me to the reason to journal about it. I want to document my progress as I go through this journey. So here we are.
    Last edited by jason_bh; 10-10-2019 at 08:27 AM.
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  2. #2
    Registered User jason_bh's Avatar
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    Just want to clarify, this journal is not about me posting weight and reps. It's more for documenting progress towards getting back as close to 'normal' as I can. There are no guarantees that I will ever get full ROM back. There is no guarantee that I will every be able to lift heavy again.

    My doc told me that I was looking at 9 months to a year before being able to lift with my injured arm. I thought that was crazy and he was just being cautious. I am now 8 weeks out of surgery and I believe that his estimate was probably right.

    Before the injury, I was making really good progress on my lifts. I was approaching 200 pounds in standing military press (my favorite lift). I was at 275 lbs with the incline bench. I say that to just give an idea of where I was at.

    After the injury, my injured arm has atrophied badly. It's quite discouraging seeing all of your progress go downhill. I have lost around 15 pounds bodyweight.

    I took 5 weeks off from the gym before I decided that I was tired of feeling sorry for myself and wanted to do something about it.

    The first two weeks was focused on stationary bike, leg extensions, leg curls, leg press and hyper-extensions. This week I have decided that I don't need to let my good arm waste away too. I came up with a workout plan to incorporate the other half of my upper body.

    I will be hitting the gym 4 times each week. I will put more of a focus on cardio and will do stationary bike each gym session.

    As it sits right now, I will be doing the following:

    Mondays (Shoulders and Legs):
    My focus will be on volume with legs on this day.
    Leg extensions
    Leg press
    Leg kickbacks
    Ab machine
    Machine shoulder press
    One DB shoulder press

    Tuesdays (Back and Bicep Day):
    Dumbbell One Arm Row
    Cable Straight Arm Pulldown (one arm)
    Cable Seated One Arm Row
    DB One Arm Preacher Curl
    Bicep Curl Machine
    Cable One Arm Curl
    Ab Machine
    Stationary Bike

    Thursdays (Chest & Tricep):
    Cable One Arm Tricep Extension
    Cable Tricep Kickback
    One Arm DB Press
    Benchpress Machine
    Ab Machine
    Stationary Bike

    Fridays:
    Kettlebell Deadlift
    Hyperextensions
    Smith Machine Squats
    Stationary Bike
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  3. #3
    Registered User jason_bh's Avatar
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    Physical Therapy:
    Right now (8 weeks out from surgery) I have the following ROM:
    Extension = roughly 30 degrees
    Flexion = roughly 120 degrees
    Supination = stuck at 0 degrees

    I see my physical therapist once per week. I do the exercises that I do in PT at home on the other days of the week. I have realized that I should be doing more of this, so I am doing what I can while at work as well.

    I bought a 2 lb DB and I hold it in my injured hand and let it stretch out my arm while at my desk all day long. I hold it for about 5-10 minutes at a time (both flexion and extension).

    Right now, my biggest sticking point is the supination of my wrist. I have not been working on that because of the severe pain that I had in my wrist up until recently. I worked with a hammer on Monday with my wrist. I would hold it and try moving it side to side. I did that for 20 reps. The whole time, I felt shooting pains in my elbow. I woke up Tuesday morning in severe pain in my elbow. I guess I over-did it. From now on, I plan to just hold the hammer and let it hang to one side and try to stretch out my wrist the same way I do my extension and flexion stretches.
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  4. #4
    Registered User jason_bh's Avatar
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    Wednesday's Workout:

    Cable Straight Arm Pull Downs:
    5 sets of 15 @ 50 lbs

    DB One Arm Row:
    4 sets of 12 @ 35 lbs

    One Arm Cable Seated Row:
    4 sets of 12 @ 40 lbs

    DB One Arm Preacher Curl:
    4 sets of 12 reps @ 22.5 lbs


    Stationary Bike:

    15 mins
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  5. #5
    Registered User jason_bh's Avatar
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    Thursday's Workout:

    DB Incline Bench (One Arm):
    5 sets of 12 @ 45 lbs

    DB Flat Bench (One Arm):
    3 sets of 12 @ 40 lbs

    Machine Tricep Extensions:
    1 set of 15 @ 25 lbs
    2 sets of 12 @ 40 lbs

    Ab Machine:
    1 set of 15 @ 100 lbs
    2 sets of 15 @ 85 lbs

    DB Seated Shoulder Press:
    3 sets of 10 @ 25 lbs

    Cable One Arm Tricep Extension:

    5 sets of 10 @ 40 lbs
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  6. #6
    Registered User jason_bh's Avatar
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    Friday's Workout:

    Hyper-extensions Back:
    4 sets of 15 with 35 lbs

    Kettlebell Deads
    3 sets of 15 @ 100 lbs

    Stationary Bike:
    10 minutes
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  7. #7
    Registered User jason_bh's Avatar
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    Went to PT yesterday. My extension is around 25-30 degree. Flexion is at 125 degrees. Supination is still at 0. I was measured for a dynamic splint to try to get my wrist turning. Hopefully that will work.

    Tuesday's Workout:
    Leg Extensions
    3 working sets of 15 @ 145 lbs

    Machine Shoulder Press
    5 sets of 15 @ 40 lbs

    Leg Press
    2 working sets of 15 @ 190 lbs

    One Arm DB Shoulder Press
    3 sets of 15 @ 25 lbs

    One Arm DB Lat Raise
    3 sets of 12 @ 20 lbs

    Smith Machine Calf Raises
    1 set of 30 @ 145 lbs
    1 set of 25 @ 145 lbs
    1 set of 20 @ 145 lbs
    1 set of 15 @ 145 lbs

    Bodyweight = 210 lbs
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  8. #8
    Registered User jason_bh's Avatar
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    Wednesday's Workout:
    Cable Straight Arm Push Downs
    2 sets of 15 @ 50 lbs

    Ab Machine
    4 sets of 15 @ 100 lbs

    DB One Arm Row
    3 sets of 15 @ 40 lbs

    Cable Standing One Arm Curl
    3 sets of 15 @ 30 lbs

    Cable Seated Rows
    3 sets of 15 @ 50 lbs

    DB One Arm Preacher Curl
    2 sets of 15 @ 25 lbs
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  9. #9
    Registered User jason_bh's Avatar
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    Thursday's Workout:
    Bench Press Machine
    2 sets of 15 @ 25 lbs
    2 sets of 12 @ 45 lbs

    DB Incline Bench
    3 sets of 12 @ 45 lbs

    DB Flat Bench
    1 set of 16 @ 40 lbs
    1 set of 12 @ 45 lbs
    1 set of 10 @ 50 lbs

    Cable One Arm Tri Ext
    2 sets of 15 @ 50 lbs
    1 set of 15 @ 40 lbs
    1 set of 10 @ 40 lbs
    1 set of 10 @ 30 lbs
    1 set of 10 @ 20 lbs
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  10. #10
    Registered User jason_bh's Avatar
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    Monday
    Leg Extensions
    20 @ 115 lbs
    20 @ 130 lbs
    10 @ 100 lbs
    10 @ 85 lbs
    10 @ 70 lbs

    Machine One Arm Shoulder Press
    15 @ 25 lbs
    15 @ 40 lbs
    15 @ 55 lbs
    10 @ 40 lbs
    10 @ 25 lbs

    DB One Arm Shoulder Press (Seated)
    15 @ 27.5 lbs
    20 @ 27.5 lbs
    21 @ 27.5 lbs
    16 @ 27.5 lbs

    DB Lat Raise (Superset with DB Front Raise)
    3 sets of 10 @ 20 lbs

    Leg Press Machine
    20 @ 130 lbs
    2 sets of 20 @ 175 lbs
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  11. #11
    Registered User jason_bh's Avatar
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    Went to my PT yesterday.

    Extension = 26 degrees
    Flexion = 135-140 degrees
    Supination = minimal if at all

    I asked if I could start working out with my arm and my PT said that I could (free weights). This is excellent news for me.
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  12. #12
    Registered User jason_bh's Avatar
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    Wednesday Workout
    One Arm Cable Seated Rows
    3 sets of 15 @ 60 lbs
    3 sets of 10 @ 10 lbs (bad arm)

    Cable Straight Arm Pull Downs
    3 sets of 12 @ 60 lbs
    3 sets of 10 @ 10 lbs (bad arm)

    One Arm DB Rows
    3 sets of 15 @ 45 lbs
    3 sets of 10 @ 10 lbs (bad arm)

    DB Alternating Hammer Curls
    3 sets of 12 @ 25 lbs
    3 sets of 10 @ 10 lbs (bad arm)
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  13. #13
    The All-American American Woody-5's Avatar
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    How did the bad arm feel working with weight?
    Do you have any lingering pain even when not using it?

    Surgery sucks, I had a inguinal hernia repair to start my summer. My stomach doesn't react well to pain meds either.
    PRs: Back Squat- 410x1 / Front Squat- 320x1/ Bench- 325x1 / Deadlift- 505x1

    Woody's Quest for the Seven (journal):
    https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=177649631
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    Originally Posted by Woody-5 View Post
    How did the bad arm feel working with weight?
    Do you have any lingering pain even when not using it?

    Surgery sucks, I had a inguinal hernia repair to start my summer. My stomach doesn't react well to pain meds either.
    Today, I am 10 weeks out from surgery. I do occasionally have pain in various places in my arm for no apparent reason. Nothing too bad though. I have an issue with my ulnar nerve, where my pinky and half of my ring finger are constantly numb and tingling. It's been like this since my accident. Something as little as putting a band-aid on my hand can drive me crazy because of irritation.

    As far as working out, my arm did pretty well. I have a lot of popping and clicking in my elbow when doing exercises. It doesn't really hurt a whole lot because I am using such light weight with it. It is uncomfortable though because I don't have full ROM. However, today I did wake up with a good bit of pain in the area of my Ulnar Collateral Ligament.

    Surgery does suck for sure. Hopefully you are fully healed from your surgery.
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  15. #15
    Registered User jason_bh's Avatar
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    Chest & Triceps
    DB Flat Bench
    1 set of 15 @ 45 lbs
    1 set of 15 @ 55 lbs
    2 sets of 15 @ 65 lbs
    3 sets of 12 @ 12.5 lbs LOL (Bad arm)

    DB Incline Bench
    3 sets of 12 @ 50 lbs
    3 sets of 12 2 12.5 lbs (Bad arm)

    Cable One Arm Tricep Pushdowns
    1 set of 15 @ 60 lbs
    1 set of 20 @ 60 lbs
    1 set of 11 @ 70 lbs
    3 sets of 10 @ 10 lbs (Bad Arm)

    Cable Cross Overs
    1 set of 20 @ 40 lbs
    2 sets of 12 @ 50 lbs
    3 sets of 12 @ 10 lbs (Bad Arm)

    DB One Arm Tricep Ext
    3 sets of 15 @ 15 lbs
    3 sets of 10 @ 5 lbs (Bad Arm)

    NOTES: Great workout just being able to do something with my arm. Probably did too much though.
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  16. #16
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    good idea with the log you will see fast progress Im sure
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    Originally Posted by Bosko View Post
    good idea with the log you will see fast progress Im sure
    This is what I am hoping for. Need some way to document the journey.

    When I was researching my injury and recovery time I couldn't find anything out there really. I stumbled across a motocross forum that had a thread where several people had this injury. I couldn't sign up for it and ask questions. Hopefully for anyone in my shoes later on they stumble across this journal and see that there's some hope of returning to lifting.
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  18. #18
    Registered User jason_bh's Avatar
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    Last night I was being pretty aggressive with stretching my arm. I used a heating pad to warm up the muscles. Then I went through my normal routine. I have an app on my phone that measures the degrees of your elbow, knee, etc. It's called Goniometer Records. It's a digital version of the measurement tool that my PT uses. I am not exactly sure how accurate it is though. I believe it is fairly accurate. Anyways, after my stretching routine, I was able to get to 22 degrees extension. That's almost 5 degree improvement since Monday.


    Friday - Back, Biceps, etc

    DB Deadlift
    2 sets of 10 @ 120 lbs
    1 set of 8 @ 120 lbs

    Hyper-extensions - Back
    3 sets of 15 with 35 lbs

    Smith Machine Rack Pulls Wut?
    1 set of 10 @ 90 lbs
    2 sets of 10 @ 130 lbs

    Cable Standing One Arm Curl
    3 sets of 15 @ 50 lbs

    DB Hammer Curl (Bad Arm)
    3 sets of 10 at 12.5 lbs

    NOTES:
    The one arm DB deadlift and Smith Machine Rack Pulls were much harder than I had anticipated. Not sure if it is more related to doing it one arm or just that I haven't done any work like this since August.

    I also realized today that I cannot do the one arm cable curls (bad arm) because of my supination issue. I hadn't thought about that until I did the first set with my good arm. Had to resort to doing hammer curls with it.
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    The All-American American Woody-5's Avatar
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    props on the 5° improvement! 360 in no time hah


    Originally Posted by jason_bh View Post
    Today, I am 10 weeks out from surgery. I do occasionally have pain in various places in my arm for no apparent reason. Nothing too bad though. I have an issue with my ulnar nerve, where my pinky and half of my ring finger are constantly numb and tingling. It's been like this since my accident. Something as little as putting a band-aid on my hand can drive me crazy because of irritation.

    As far as working out, my arm did pretty well. I have a lot of popping and clicking in my elbow when doing exercises. It doesn't really hurt a whole lot because I am using such light weight with it. It is uncomfortable though because I don't have full ROM. However, today I did wake up with a good bit of pain in the area of my Ulnar Collateral Ligament.

    Surgery does suck for sure. Hopefully you are fully healed from your surgery.
    All healed with clearance for normal duty from the doc within 8 weeks, however I can still feel that spot sometimes. I don't want to call it painful, but it's not the greatest sensation. Probably mostly because it's a faded reminder of what it felt like when it happened. My doc says it's probably just scar tissue and will disappear in time.
    PRs: Back Squat- 410x1 / Front Squat- 320x1/ Bench- 325x1 / Deadlift- 505x1

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  20. #20
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    Originally Posted by Woody-5 View Post
    props on the 5° improvement! 360 in no time hah
    Lulz. I am totally in for 360 degrees.

    Originally Posted by Woody-5 View Post
    All healed with clearance for normal duty from the doc within 8 weeks, however I can still feel that spot sometimes. I don't want to call it painful, but it's not the greatest sensation. Probably mostly because it's a faded reminder of what it felt like when it happened. My doc says it's probably just scar tissue and will disappear in time.
    Yeah, it is more than likely scar tissue. I have uncomfortable sensations in my elbow. I have asked my PT about it, and she says it's scar tissue. Glad to hear that you are healed.
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    Went to PT today. I received my JAS splint that will work on rotating my forearm/wrist. Kind of excited to get this going as this is the only movement that I am stuck on. Nothing I have done on my own has helped.

    The great news is that my PT said that she really didn't know what to do with me now because I have 'almost full extension and flexion'. I can touch my shoulder with my thumb while flexing and have no issues with drinking or eating with my injured arm. As far as extension goes, I have measured with my phone and I am around 15 degrees. It really is hard to tell at resting which arm was injured now because I am able to extend it much better. I see my doctor next week.
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    Registered User jason_bh's Avatar
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    Tuesday Workout - Shoulders

    DB Lat Raise
    3 sets of 12 @ 25 lbs (Good arm)
    3 sets of 10 @ 12.5 lb (Bad arm)

    DB Shoulder Press
    1 set of 15 @ 25 lbs (Good arm)
    1 set of 15 @ 30 lbs (Good arm)
    1 set of 15 @ 35 lbs (Good arm)
    1 set of 15 @ 40 lbs (Good arm)
    1 set of 15 @ 10 lb (Bad arm)
    3 sets of 15 @ 15 lbs (Bad arm)

    DB Front Raise
    3 sets of 15 @ 25 lbs (Good arm)
    3 sets of 12 @ 10 lbs (Bad arm)
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    Registered User jason_bh's Avatar
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    Thursday Workout - Chest and Tris

    DB Incline Bench
    3 sets of 15 @ 60 lbs
    3 sets of 12 @ 15 lbs (Bad arm)

    DB Flat Bench
    3 sets of 12 @ 60 lbs
    3 sets of 12 @ 15 lbs (Bad arm)

    Cable One Arm Tricep Pushdowns
    3 sets of 15 @ 60 lbs
    3 sets of 15 @ 10 lbs (Bad arm)

    NOTE: I attempted to do some DB one arm tricep extensions. I noticed a lot of discomfort in my elbow so I stopped.
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    Registered User jason_bh's Avatar
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    Friday Workout - MISC

    Smith Machine Rack Pulls (One arm)
    3 sets of 15 @ 90 lbs

    Hyper-extensions
    3 sets of 15 with 40 lbs

    Leg Extensions
    3 sets of 12 @ 160 lbs

    DB Alternate Hammer Curls
    3 sets of 12 @ 32.5 lbs
    1 sets of 8 @ 12.5 lbs (Bad arm)


    NOTE: Frustrating day. Maybe I am pushing my recovery too hard. A lot of discomfort again in my elbow. My wrist is very painful as well. I see my doc on Monday.
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  25. #25
    Registered User jason_bh's Avatar
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    Week 12 Update (post-op):
    I have been working out at least 3 times per week. Working in my bad arm still when pain allows.

    Went to see doc last week. Had x-rays and they were all 'good'. Doc was impressed with my ROM, mainly my flexion and extension. I would say that I am close to 12 degrees extension. I believe that I have full flexion. Supination is still a sticking point (pun-intended). However, that does seem to have improved slightly.

    With my JAS brace I am able to supinate my forearm to at least 45 degrees. The odd thing is that with it off, I can't supinate it. :angry: But like I said, it is very slightly improving.

    Doc said that I don't have to see him for 6 weeks. PT said every 2 weeks. So that alone is encouraging I guess.
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  26. #26
    Registered User jason_bh's Avatar
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    Monday Workout

    DB Incline Bench
    1 set of 15 @ 45 lbs
    3 sets of 15 @ 15 lbs (bad arm)
    2 sets of 15 @ 65 lbs

    DB Flat Bench
    3 sets of 12 @ 15 lbs (bad arm)
    3 sets of 12 @ 65 lbs

    Cable Cross Over
    3 sets of 12 @ 60 lbs
    3 sets of 12 @ 10 lbs (bad arm)

    Cable One Arm Tricep Pushdowns
    3 sets of 15 @ 60 lbs
    2 sets of 15 @ 10 lbs (bad arm)

    NOTES: Not a lot of pain in my elbow today. However, my wrist continues to be an issue and is very painful.
    Still being very cautious.
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