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Merwin: Casting is a Pain in the Shoulder

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December 21, 2009

Merwin: Casting is a Pain in the Shoulder

By John Merwin

Happy winter solstice. Today being the first official day of winter, I’m reminded of the aching twinge I feel in my right (casting arm) shoulder when it gets cold.

After about 60 years of repetitive casting motions, especially with fly rods, my shoulder was a mess, somewhat like that of an overworked baseball pitcher. The rotator cuff was rough, plus a little bone-spur growth, plus arthritis...it had gotten to a point at which I could no longer cast without substantial pain.

So I went to an orthopedic surgeon, who used various arthroscopic tools and techniques to repair my shoulder. The physical-therapy rehab was painful, arduous, and at the time seemed never-ending. But now--about three years later--the shoulder feels better than new. I can cast comfortably, without pain, and with a full range of motion.

What I found in subsequently asking around was that several of my long-time flyfishing acquaintances around the country had either just had or were about to have similar shoulder surgery. There were and are all lifelong anglers in their early 60s.

So are fishermen--especially fly fishermen--like the baseball guys for whom shoulder damage is an occupational hazard? I’ve only talked with a very small sample of them, but I’m starting to think so. Do you or someone you fish with have a shoulder twinge when you cast? And what do you do about it?

Comments (8)

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from earlyriser81 wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

I fish with no physical pain. I have not quite gotten to that point yet.

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from hengst wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

Ohh I can feel your pain. I have had bad shoulder pain for about 4 yrs now. The Army docs. couldnt find anything wrong, I kept bothering them and finally figured it out. Had a disk pushing on my spinal column and the same disk (C5)had stenosis. Stenosis is when the little openings on the vertabrae where the nerves come out of startes closing and pushes on the nerve (lay talk)Spinal fusion in November fixed the headaches but wont do much for the stenosis. I am not about to even think about not fishing or hunting so I have to deal with it. I am glad they took care of you though, you probably feel like a new man.

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from Alex Pernice th... wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

They sell balancing kits for your rods, they seem to help keep your arm from tiring. Other than that, not much I can complain about, never had a problem (But I am only 14, so I don't have all the extra years.)

I do have some minor tiring problems when Surf casting, but thats normal.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

I had surgery on both shoulders - rotator cuff and SLAP lesion (plus back and knee). From a combination of sports. Shooting and casting likely contributed to the right shoulder injury. Right shoulder is still not right so a weekend of heavy casting comes with a price.

While wheeling me into surgery the anesthesiologist said he was having the same surgery, and that shoulder surgeries were the most painful. He was right, so much so that I dread the thought of going through it again.

One surgeon kept pushing Vioxx. I only took it a short time. Something told me not to stay on it. The class action lawsuits came shortly after. And those sadistic physical therapists ....

With all these physical complaints I can hold my own with the old fogies. So when do I officially become one? Or, at 51, am I already there?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

I wish I could say that I threw my shoulder out fly fishing but after 15 years of throwing batting practice to 15 year olds no one would believe me.

Now that I'm through with baseball maybe I can work on ruining my shoulder with a 7 weight.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

Could this be another "unhealthy lifestyle"?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

Oh, what do I do about it? Grimace and bear it, and rest, plus anti-inflammatories (hmmm, is beer an anti-inflammatory?). Also saving up for a very lightweight, but expensive, 9 weight rod.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hengst wrote 4 years 16 weeks ago

Wow is this the proverbial old guy's comparing ailment discussion? I am scared still to young for that lol So I just changed my mind I am fine but thank you for asking Mr Merwin

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from earlyriser81 wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

I fish with no physical pain. I have not quite gotten to that point yet.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hengst wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

Ohh I can feel your pain. I have had bad shoulder pain for about 4 yrs now. The Army docs. couldnt find anything wrong, I kept bothering them and finally figured it out. Had a disk pushing on my spinal column and the same disk (C5)had stenosis. Stenosis is when the little openings on the vertabrae where the nerves come out of startes closing and pushes on the nerve (lay talk)Spinal fusion in November fixed the headaches but wont do much for the stenosis. I am not about to even think about not fishing or hunting so I have to deal with it. I am glad they took care of you though, you probably feel like a new man.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Alex Pernice th... wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

They sell balancing kits for your rods, they seem to help keep your arm from tiring. Other than that, not much I can complain about, never had a problem (But I am only 14, so I don't have all the extra years.)

I do have some minor tiring problems when Surf casting, but thats normal.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

I had surgery on both shoulders - rotator cuff and SLAP lesion (plus back and knee). From a combination of sports. Shooting and casting likely contributed to the right shoulder injury. Right shoulder is still not right so a weekend of heavy casting comes with a price.

While wheeling me into surgery the anesthesiologist said he was having the same surgery, and that shoulder surgeries were the most painful. He was right, so much so that I dread the thought of going through it again.

One surgeon kept pushing Vioxx. I only took it a short time. Something told me not to stay on it. The class action lawsuits came shortly after. And those sadistic physical therapists ....

With all these physical complaints I can hold my own with the old fogies. So when do I officially become one? Or, at 51, am I already there?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

I wish I could say that I threw my shoulder out fly fishing but after 15 years of throwing batting practice to 15 year olds no one would believe me.

Now that I'm through with baseball maybe I can work on ruining my shoulder with a 7 weight.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

Could this be another "unhealthy lifestyle"?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 4 years 17 weeks ago

Oh, what do I do about it? Grimace and bear it, and rest, plus anti-inflammatories (hmmm, is beer an anti-inflammatory?). Also saving up for a very lightweight, but expensive, 9 weight rod.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hengst wrote 4 years 16 weeks ago

Wow is this the proverbial old guy's comparing ailment discussion? I am scared still to young for that lol So I just changed my mind I am fine but thank you for asking Mr Merwin

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

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