Former Olympian, Reggie Crist’s Recovery From Shoulder Pain

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reggie-cristTreatment for Shoulder Osteoarthritis in Young Patients | CAM Procedure | Shoulder Pain | Colorado

Reggie Crist, former Olympian and two-time X-games winner, is a successful example of the CAM procedure for treatment of shoulder pain from osteoarthritis.  He has advice for anyone who is contemplating giving up their dream:  “Follow your passion, and you will eventually become good at it.”

At age 43, Reggie is indeed good at what he does.  He has spent more than two decades making a living off of skiing and over the years his passion for the powder has helped shaped him into one of the most talented skiers on the map.  Reggie has gone through a few reinventions along the way and today his career continues to take as many turns and twists as the slopes where he grew up in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Reggie began skiing competitively for the U.S. Ski Team in his early twenties and quickly became a competitor to watch. He spent more than 10 years skiing around the world for the United States, including competing in the Alpine Downhill in the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France. He won two X-Games for SkiCross and continued to ski competitively, until 2006 when he officially retired from competition.

Reggie has spent more than two decades in the ski industry. Moreover his passion for the powder has helped shape him into one of the most talented extreme skiers of all time.  Reggie has reinvented himself a few times and today his career continues to take as many turns as the slopes where he grew up in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Now at age 43, his new passion is big mountain, back country skiing where, as a heli-ski guide, he safely guides skiers in Alaska. He continues to make ski films for big name producers like Warren Miller and is also the new face behind Eddie Bauer and their new line of winter mountain gear, First Ascent.

The awesome alpine terrain where Reggie makes a living knows no age, and sees no limits. That is why when Reggie started experiencing progressive shoulder pain and weakness, he knew he had to figure out what was causing the problem so he could be strong on his skis.

After some homework, Reggie was put in touch with Dr. Peter Millett, shoulder and sports medicine specialist at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, CO. Dr. Millett told Reggie that after years of playing hard, the wear and tear had lead to osteoarthritis in his shoulder joint and that the actual joint itself was slowly wearing out and changing shape. Although Reggie had never experienced a major shoulder dislocation, activities such as whitewater kayaking and downhill ski racing had caused a couple of subluxations where the joint partially slipped out. That, combined with a few hard falls on the slopes over the years, had lead to a natural degeneration of the shoulder joint.

“For several years my shoulder pain would increase from time to time. I never really knew when it would flare up, but when it did, the pain was pretty consuming and my range of motion became limited. There were times when basic activities were really hard for me to do,” said Reggie.  “I knew that I was way too young for any kind of shoulder replacement surgery, so I did my research. I learned that Dr. Millett was the pioneer behind the CAM procedure for shoulder osteoarthritis, which is a surgery ideal for someone of my age and my activity level. This particular type of treatment for shoulder osteoarthritis in young patients helps restore the joint so that people like me can continue to do the things we want to do at the highest level.  I knew that in order to be effective and successful, I had to move forward with the surgery.”

Dr. Millett performed x-rays and an MRI and it was discovered that several loose pieces of bone and cartilage were floating around in the shoulder and were contributing to the shoulder pain that Reggie was experiencing. During the CAM procedure, Dr. Millett used an arthroscopic, minimally invasive technique that essentially “cleaned up” the loose cartilage and foreign bodies that were present (such as bone chips) within the joint. He reshaped and smoothed out the joint so that the ball was round again so it could fit in the socket to restore range of motion and eliminate pain.

According to Dr. Millett, “The treatment for shoulder osteoarthritis in young patients is not always so cut and dry.  In highly athletic and active patients like Reggie, a solution needs to be offered so that they can return to high levels of activity and also so that they have options for treatment in the future. Patients that come in with a labral tear or a rotator cuff tear have very precise protocols. For years, a protocol didn’t exist for someone like Reggie who is still way too young for replacement surgery. The CAM procedure was developed to manage and treat the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis so that these young, active patients can continue on with their life both pain-free and as active as they want to be.”

Four months post-op, Reggie is back skiing the big mountains and making big improvements every day. He has his range of motion back and the pain is becoming non-existent.

“I knew that for a progressive approach like the CAM procedure, I would only find my answers at The Steadman Clinic. I did my homework and researched the treatment for osteoarthritis in young patients and Dr. Millett was the clear choice. I can’t say enough about Dr. Millett. He truly gets and understands why someone like me must continue to live a pain free, active life. His goal was to get me fixed so that I could get back to what I do every day. He is an exceptional physician and someone I have complete faith in. He has my trust for years to come.”

If you are a young patient/athlete and are experiencing on-going shoulder pain, you may have arthritis of the shoulder.  Treatment for shoulder osteoarthritis in young patients via the CAM Procedure is an option pioneer by Dr. Millett.

While clinical studies support the effectiveness of these procedures, individual results may vary. There are no guarantees of outcome. All surgeries involve the risk of major complications. Before you decide on surgery, discuss treatment options with your doctor. Understanding the risks of each treatment can help you make the best decision for your individual situation.  Always ask your doctor about all treatment options, as well as their risks and benefits. Only your doctor can determine the appropriate treatment for your situation. The clinical information and opinions, including any inaccuracies expressed in this material by patients or doctor are not necessarily those of Peter Millett, MD and should not be considered as substitute for medical advice provided by your doctor.