Twichell of Raleigh has been a competitive swimmer since she was six years old, and getting physical therapy for her shoulder since middle school. “Shoulder problems run in my family,” said Twichell, now 25. “My brother had shoulder issues, my dad’s had shoulder surgery.” That family history, combined with the repetitive movements of long-distance freestyle, made Twichell’s own shoulder struggles a constant threat.
“I considered getting surgery a couple of times but always tried to avoid it,” she said.
By June of 2014, avoidance was no longer an option. “The pain was almost like arthritis,” she said. “I couldn’t sleep at night, I couldn’t lift my arm more than six inches from my side. I had no range of motion and I had a dull ache that went from my bicep through my shoulder and all the way down my back.”