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Frozen Shoulder

Posted by funkyart (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 29, 13 at 5:50

I read about "Frozen Shoulder" here.. it sounded so similar to what I've been experiencing and chalking up to bursitis that I looked it up online. Also known as "50s shoulder" it also sounds similar to bursitis.. which it still may be. It says it affects women more frequently than men and is associated with menopause, thyroid disease, diabetes. I just turned 49 and surely have perimenopause but no sign of menopause proper as yet. No diabetes but I do have a bad thyroid (hypo) and have recently started taking meds.

I havent been to a dr-- mainly because I've had a history of bursitis since my youth (very unusual, I know) and the treatment has always been to take an anti-inflammatory OTC (though, in the past, I did take the prescription drugs that were removed from the market). It has always affected my hips though-- never my shoulder. My understand is that much like bursitis, "Frozen Shoulder" is treated much the same way by addressing the inflammation and associated strain to tendons and ligaments and just wait it out.

I am taking very high doses of ibuprofen -- when I damaged my ulnar nerve, a PA told me that I could take up to 2400 mg a day and that is about the dose I am taking now. Still, I have a great deal of pain when doing anything with my arm that involves any kind of rotation or reach-- if I forget and try to reach back to the car console or change a load of laundry using my right hand, I'll wince/gasp with excruciating sharp pain. Putting on a bra or removing a shirt causes great pain. On a bad day, shampooing my hair or shaving arm pits is painful.. and I won't even go into the acrobatics required for basic bathroom hygiene. The worst is sleeping. I am ok on either side to start sleep-- but after a few hours I must switch and by morning I am in serious pain. This morning I woke at 4am and could not find a comfortable position to go back to sleep.

I am frustrated and tired of the limitations. Again, like bursitis, everything I am reading says that it just works out and eventually goes away. That's not reassuring to me. I don't have time to wait! I am trying to pack up and clean my current house-- trying to prep the new house-- and this pain is preventing me from doing the jobs that need to be done. I had to hire out to do the painting (though I am pretty much fine with any action directly in front of me, it would take me a month to paint a wall without any reach left or right). I pulled carpet in the new kitchen this weekend and am paying the price now. I am grumpy from the pain-- and grumpier yet from the inconvenience!

Have any of you experienced the same-- any recommendations for sleeping? Or just getting basic things done without pain? Do you use something other than ibu?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Frozen Shoulder

I am also dealing with this pain, I too think it's bursitis,
I've had it for over a month, it gets better then it resurfaces, I have to make sure I don't reach out and pull on a heavy door, or grab my grand daughter.
It's my right shoulder. I think I hurt mine lifting weights at the gym.

My pain is getting fainter and fainter, and I managed to play golf when I was in Florida recently .
Good luck to you, I hope your pain goes away faster than mine.


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

My brother had problems with bursitis in his shoulder and then he started taking potassium supplements and it went away...he swore it was the potassium. He was diabetic and a smoker.


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

Mitch, glad to hear you have seen some relief. No way I could play golf.. and while I have days than are better than others, none are good. I do know I do better when I keep up with the high doses of ibu. If I let the pain get ahead of me, then it takes a few days to recover.

Interesting, Annie. I will do a little reading on this. I don't even take a multi vitamin so it may have some merit. I eat a fairly balanced diet but I dont eat potatoes or bananas-- or anything else that has a higher potassium level on a daily/regular basis.

Thank you!


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

I also have a lot of pain in my right shoulder. I think it began when I got my laptop and began sitting on the sofa to use it, rather than at a desk as I did when I only had my desktop. I am right handed and when using the laptop, I am holding my right arm up and slightly out. I just started sitting on the other end of the sofa so my right arm is propped up on the arm of the sofa. It seems to help. It does hurt at night and there are times when I have to use my left arm to move my right arm or it hurts too much.

Stretching it and moving it seems to help some.

My mother (95) has almost no use of her left shoulder. I sure hope it is not hereditary.

I hope yours resolves itself soon, Funky.


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

The year I turned 50, I experienced frozen shoulder in my right shoulder. I had not injured my shoulder or had any other contributing factors. Initially, I used ibuprofen and kept waiting for it to get better. No luck though. The pain increased and the ability to move my arm decreased. It got to the point where even a flick of my wrist brought tears to my eyes because it hurt so much. i had severely limited range of motion for all arm movements. Even trying to sleep was affected by the shoulder pain. I finally had to see an orthopedic doctor

The doctor said the technical term for it was adhesive capsulitis which is a thickening of the cushioning sac in the shoulder joint. He said that bursitis is an inflammation of that sac. Apparently bursitis can but does not always lead to adhesive capsulitis.

The treatment for me consisted of a cortisone shot in my shoulder and physical therapy that included manipulations to break the adhesion, heat, ultrasound and lots of exercises. It took about 6 months to recover.

One year later, I developed frozen shoulder in my left shoulder. Same scenario as with the right shoulder.

The doctor said that usually once you have frozen shoulder it rarely reoccurs in that shoulder again but as in my case it does sometimes happen in the opposite shoulder.

Adhesive capsulitis only occurs in the shoulder. Bursitis can develop in other joints.

It has been 10 years since I had my frozen shoulder and I have had no problems with either shoulder since then.

You should probably see a physical therapist because even though it seems like exercise might make the condition worse it doesn't and it is what you need to improve the condition. You have to do the correct exercises/stretches though and might need some of the other treatment to go along with it.


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

I've had frozen shoulder in both shoulders...Badgergal described it perfectly, including the treatment. It is a long recovery, but it will get better. So sorry, esp. with all you have going on.


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

Right, it does tend to get better. I got bursitis from overhead painting that made my shoulder get frozen. I was able to rehab it myself. I worked on range of motion stretching and arm circles/pendulums. It is still maybe 95% of the range of motion of the other shoulder.


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

Funky, I think you should see a doctor and not try to diagnose and treat it yourself. It could be something else.

I, too, have been in the painful shoulder camp. About 11 years ago, my right shoulder started hurting a lot, during a lot of the movements you're talking about. I had a one year old baby at the time and I could barely carry her on that side (and I am right-handed). I finally went to the dr. and it turned out that I had a little "hook" on a bone (can't remember the name of the bone now) that was impinging on a tendon. I had obviously been born with this bone thing, but it wasn't until years of this impinging (aggravated by movements, in my case, like reaching into the back seat giving stuff to my kids!) that it really caused a problem. I had surgery to remove the bone "hook", followed by PT. I should add that the surgery was only after trying a couple of cortisone shots, one that didn't work at all and one that only helped for a couple of weeks.

I still have to avoid things like lifting weights overhead. I've had flare-ups in that area from time to time but the last time I mentioned it to a dr., he said it was probably tendonitis.

Anyway, I am not saying you have what I have, but just saying you should get it looked at because maybe there's a good solution.


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My friend had this. She thought she pulled a muscle exercising. She paid a lot of $ in physical therapy that made it worse. She finally found out that it may be connected to her pre-diabetes (you are way ahead to know this!).

Her options were surgery, which had a horrible recovery process (arm elevated for 3 weeks!) or just wait. She waited . . .no more physical therapy. Eventually, she DID get better. It was a long time, but maybe had she not done the therapy it would have been better faster.

I am so sorry you are dealing with this. It is frustrating when our bodies do not cooperate with us!!!!


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

I've been dealing with this since November-- the worst has been the last 3-4 months. It's reassuring to know that it has worked out for others-- and I AM doing the arm pendulum exercises each morning, I just read about them last week so thanks for the tip, Gsciencechick!

I have to say, I generally have a pretty high tolerance for pain but this can bring me to tears and whimpers. I am not very interested in any surgical fix -- unless absolutely necessary. I have a blood clotting disease and I was so bruised after my last surgery (to repair an ulnar nerve) that the bruising hurt more than the repair. I've read mixed reports on the PT-- but good things about the at-home arm circle/pendulums. I think I'll stick with that for now.

Sue, I don't disagree that perhaps I should have it looked at. My father (whose joints I inherited,darn it!) went in for rotator cuff surgery a few years ago and found that, instead, he had a bone spur. The surgery and recovery were a breeze compared to what he'd have had with rotator cuff. I just hate going to the dr when there's basically nothing they can do-- and I'd have to go through a series of visits. I am quick to go when I know it's something that needs attention... but based on my experience to date with my hips and all I've read, this is a suffer, endure and wait kind of deal.

Thank you all for your thoughts--- I am being a baby about it lately so I appreciate the commiseration! Anele, and boy are you right about frustrations. I think I am still 29.. or even 39.. and I am not!


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

About this time last year I was recovering from a frozen left shoulder. It became so painful that I opted for a cortisone injection to help with the pain, before I started the range of motion exercises. I can tell you how many days, almost to the minute, when the cortisone took effect! My Dr. (who has treated my family for years and years, and was my DD's soccer coach) gave me the choice of professional PT, or self-guided PT. I chose self-guided PT, and used a series of 15+ exercises, twice a day for a couple of months. When I could finally shave my armpit, I rejoiced. Such a simple thing that I always took for granted--and do again, now that I've recovered almost 100%. I still have a slight stiffness at the top of my range, that I don't feel in my (as yet) unaffected right arm.

I just want to mention that Ibuprofen was prescribed to supplement the cortisone, and after a few days of taking it I developed the 'blood pounding in my ears' feeling, with elevated BP. I don't normally have high blood pressure, and after I cut down the Ibuprofen dose, my BP returned to normal. I did some research, and found other complaints about cortisone/Ibuprofen causing a spike in BP.

I've had normal EKG and blood sugar results since recovering, but my father was diagnosed with diabetes about the same time that I was diagnosed with adhesive capsulitis. I know I will need to be diligent about frequent checks for diabetes and heart disease.

If you'd like the list of exercises that I used, I'll add them, and you can find demos on Youtube and other sites. Good luck!


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

Absolutely, Mamagoose. I'd like to see them. The bf and I are tangling a bit over whether I go to the dr. I too have been seeing the same practice for many years-- since I was a kid, actually. Of course, MY dr's have since retired .. but the orthopedic center here grew out of the practice I used to see (very regularly! LOL).

It's reassuring to hear that so many have healed. I'd prefer not to get a cortisone shot but it is an option (and was for my hips).

I had to laugh when you mentioned celebrating shaving your armpits. It's sad .. but funny.. and true! I was so sore this morning that I had to maneuver just to rinse my armpit! TMI, I know.. but the limited range of motion and pain is ridiculous!


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

Go to doctor --he should order an MRI right away. -maybe you have what I had torn rotator cuff. Only way to fix it is surgery. If it is small can be done with scope-surgery is piece of cake if it is. One shoulder was small tear, but other one was a very large tear, and had to do more invasive surgery, but I was lucky it was not detached so recovery was not too bad. Had 3 months of physical therapy and regained about 98% rotation. My son just had his done with scope and just a few weeks of PT and is good as new. He had several months of pain and loss of sleep too, as did I . If you have a rotator cuff problem drugs will not fix it.


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Never heard of frozen shoulder. I'm currently dealing with an impinged shoulder-ugh the pain! DH had both shoulders operated on, one twice, due to messed up tendons in his shoulders. I have impingements in both-can't throw a ball any more, and now my left shoulder pinches whenever I move it.

Be careful with that high a dose of ibuprophen. I can't take it any more because I did it for years at high doses and ended up with a bad case of acid reflux and a burned esophagus as a result.


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

I second what ms-thrifty said. Get an accurate DX from an orthopedic physician. You could be wasting time self-medicating and treating. Not to scare you, but we just had an older friend who had a painful shoulder issue and because he had good results years back with PT for rotator cuff issues, he talked the doctor into letting him try PT before an MRI. When it didn't get better in a few months time, the MRI was ordered and his shoulder was full of cancer. I am a great believer in PT(if warranted) AFTER a DX. And I am guilty of self diagnosing, only to go to doctor and find out, while the symptoms were similar, the DX was totally wrong. Take care of yourself and I hope you find relief!


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

My 2x/day PT regimen was:

Heat pack for 20minutes before exercising (wet towel, heated in microwave)

Bruegger posture relief position

Scapula rolls - Stand with your arms at your side and perform a shrug motion so that your shoulders rise straight up, arms remaining at your side. Roll your scapula backwards and downward. Raise them back up to the shrugged position to complete the cycle. Repeat this movement for a total of 10 times. This exercise works the trapezius, infraspinatus and deltoids. Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/227683-corrective-exercises-to-help- a-dropped-shoulder/#ixzz2RuyPsVmN

Pendulum circles, first with no weight, then use weights.
1½lb weight (I used 20oz food can)
2lb weight (I used 30oz mayo jar)

*Several of the following exercises are on this page.

*External rotation with yard stick,broom stick, etc.

*Abduction with yard stick

*Internal rotation - towel stretch, rear

Akimbo stretch - try to rest your hand on your waist, at side

Arm rolls front and side

*Internal rotation across chest, assisted (use opposite hand)

Warm-up stretch - hands together, fingers locked, arms straight. Slowly raise arms as high as possible without pain.

*Flexion - assisted lift with yardstick, front and back

Wall climbs, front and side

Wall touch stretch

Door jamb stretch, flexed elbow

Door jamb stretch, straight arm

Corner stretch

All fours rocking, flat back

Curls with 2lb weight - to prevent muscle atrophy

Repeat pendulum circle sequence to relieve tension/fatigue

Ice pack for 20 minutes and before bed as needed

Look up exercises on Youtube or ortho sites to make sure you are doing them correctly, especially the pendulum circles--they need to be controlled and deliberate. Write them down, in order, on a sheet of paper, and tape it to the wall, so that you can keep your place--wouldn't want to skip any of those really fun (not!) movements. Start with a few seconds, or counts, for each exercise and work up to longer periods. DO NOT push yourself--severe pain means that you are causing more inflammation. It hurts a lot at first, and you'll feel as if you're never going to be able to lift your arm again. Just keep moving a little more each time, and eventually you will notice a difference.

And do see your doctor--you may need an injection for inflammation before you can perform the movements without excruciating pain.

Edited to correct links.

This post was edited by mama_goose on Tue, Apr 30, 13 at 2:23


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

For many years I had frequent episodes of what my Dr. diagnosed as bursitis. The worst was when we first got our horses and didn't have a watering system and I hauled 5 gallon buckets of water for them twice a day for months. I got to the point I couldn't move my shoulders and was severely debilitated. I tried meds, physio, and acupuncture none of which worked, in fact it became worse with physio and acupuncture. Finally, in desperation, Iwent to a massage therapist and that helped fairly quickly.

Later I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia which may have explained a lot of my pain problems. Because I don't like to take meds I use heat, diet, and supplements. For me, eliminating dairy from my diet has made a huge difference in the pain. Milk causes inflammation for many people and that one diet change has helped me immeasurably. I also take a curcumin supplement as it's an anti-inflammatory that doesn't have adverse side effects. I value my kidneys and liver and don't like the side-effects of many pharmaceuticals. I also try to eat as few inflammatory foods as possible (sugar, wheat, and dairy are the worst) and use an alkaline diet for health.

Edited to add: This type of diet is also a wonderful weight loss diet. It's impossible to be overweight when eating mostly vegetables. I do enjoy eating out so cheat on the diet whenever I want but don't have to count calories and have lost over 50 pounds in about 5 years. I also feel a lot better so it's a win-win.

This post was edited by luckygal on Tue, Apr 30, 13 at 9:43


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

Both DH and DS had shoulder surgery, for different reasons, so I feel like I'm qualified to say this. lol.

Go to the doctor. An ortho. Do not pass Go. There could be any number of reasons why you're in pain, and you could be further damaging your shoulder by exercizing it. If you have tissue damage, you're just making it worse.

A good Ortho will do an x-ray, and if he/she doesn't see anything then he'll order an MRI. An MRI is the only way to see tissue damage.

Short story about my DS which may make you go an Ortho.

He hurt his shoulder playing baseball. Lots of pain. I took him to our family physician, he took an x-ray, and all he saw was a raised collar bone. Told him to take it easy.

Shoulder kept hurting, so my late MIL told me to take him to her old Ortho boss, who should have retired a 100 years earlier, lol. He looked at the shoulder, piddled with it, then prescribed PT.

On the first day at PT, my son walked out in tears during the session. He said it hurt, and he knew in his gut it was something serious. What made me angry is the PT should have picked up on this. They're NOT doctors.

I finally found a reputable Ortho who took his own x-ray, then ordered an MRI. DS had a big tear in his Labrum. Ortho was shocked that the other doctor had him go to PT without a diagnosis first.

DS had surgery.

I have two bum shoulders (I'm the one who did the original topic), and I just live with the pain. One shoulder is a torn rotator cuff but I know not to move my arm a certain way and I'm okay. The other shoulder will suddenly hurt over the slightest movement in any direction by my arm, then the pain goes away. It does this about 5 times a day, but doesn't hurt inbetween. Not enough to make me go to the doctor though.

I just don't want to see you further damage your shoulder in case it's not frozen. You've been in pain way too long to ignore this. :)


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

I'm definitely going to get an MRI for my shoulder in a few weeks, thanks for all the info above, your stories are good advice.


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

I have had Frozen Shoulders, first in 2004 after I cleaned the soffit around my house by hand. I endured the pain for months before going to the doctor, who sent me for PT. He also offered me Cortisone injection, which I declined as I read that it actually damages the tissue in of itself. Three months of PT and the pain was worse, all the way down the right side of my back and as far over as the spine. It hurt to take deep breaths, and I couldn't even lift a frying pan cause the muscle in my forearm would lock up. Couldn't wash, blow dry my hair. I finally went to another doctor and he told me the only way I could get relief was from having a manipulation, where he would put me to sleep and wrench my shoulder, tearing the adhesions. He said the reason the PT made it worse was that it involved the Trigger points and as I lost range of motion, I depended on different muscles to do the work. He said it can only get better on its own IF if is caught in time and adhesions are not bad. I had the manipulation done and a week of PT to keep me moving it and excerises at home. I got full range of motion back after a month or so. Two years later- the other one froze. This time I went immediately and had the manipulation. Pain free immediately.

I'd go and not put it off. If he offers a manipulation, do it. I had a hysterectomy in 1986 at the age of 36 but was on HRT until 2002 - had the first FS in 2004. I agree its probably horomone related partially. I have no diabetes or thyroid problems.

About the excerises - check out Aaron Mattes - Active Isolated Stretches - best ones for FS. The PT ones have you hold the stretch way too long and you get the rebound effect of the muscle tightening back up. AIS excerises isolate the individual parts of the muscle and you do fewer of them, hold them shorter time frame and do them slowly. Whenever I overstress in gardening or lifting, cleaning and I feel the muscles tightening, I get those out and do them.

Find some Biofreeze to use at night. Rub it on Your shoulder and down your back and arm. Its a gel - kinda like Bengay but much much better. It helped me so that I could sleep. Most PT places have it and some massage places.

Wet a hand towel and wring it out. Put it in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes. Take it out and wrap it in another bath towel. Lay it across your shoulder, then move it to any area that hurts. I did this before I would excerise then after the excerises, you ice them down. But just for relief, I'd do the hot towel whenever I hurt.

Good luck, FS is much more common than people think. Aleve helped too - more than others for me.


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

I had a rotator cuff injury several years ago. The best exercise they had me do was similar to the pendulum circles, but I sat on a chair and held a very light weight. Then, I made circles clockwise and counterclockwise with my arm hanging down in front between my legs. I still do that one.

I do agree you should ask your doctor though. Glad you are scheduled for an MRI. Hope it improves for you!


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

Thanks for all the info and recommendations! I can't believe you all have done so much with your homes and still had "broken" shoulders-- some of you had two!

I am pretty confident this isn't a torn rotator cuff.. or cancer. I've had a lot of joint issues and ortho issues over the years. I can "feel" where the problem is and I knew it was the ligaments (holds bones together) and tendons (holds muscle to bone) even before I read about "frozen shoulder". The only thing I've wondered at times is whether I'd broken a bone.. I do have pain and sometimes heat in my arm a few inches below the shoulder but it's an attachment point and I am sure it's just an inflamed tendon.

Surprisingly, I had a very good day yesterday. I can't for the life of me say what was different. I wore an extra layer but the temps weren't all that different. I didnt take more ibu. I am not going to jinx anything but hoping the late spring and warmer temps continue to bring relief.

I am curious about the "manipulation" procedure and will pursue it if it continues. Also interested in the dietary changes luckygal suggested. I don't take in much dairy at all..half and half in my coffee is it.. and don't do much sugar...but wheat? I'd say I eat a normal amount of wheat. I could cut back on it more.

Thanks again.. Hoping I continue to see improvements!


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Funky dear, please do have it checked out and don't self-diagnose. The bone spur thing is a possibility - plus if a manipulation is something that could be done and is better (easier) done early on - that is something you might want to check out.

I cannot imagine someone having torn rotator cuffs, etc. and not having something done about it! I guess I am too big a wienie - I don't like pain, but I guess even worse, I don't like the limitations an injury can bring to my life.

PT is a great thing, but only after a doctor diagnoses you. I have done it twice and have a great therapist. Massage therapy is a very beneficial part of some PT - it has worked great for me. I saw someone mentioned pressure points and pressure point therapy/massage can really help in some situations. I had some shoulder blade pain (due to a change in my job and more time spent in one position in front of the computer LOL) and the trigger/pressure point therapy was a lifesaver for me.

Take care!!

tina


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I self-diagnosed my knee injury -- knew exactly what I did and thought it was just a sprain and would heal if I took it easy and did some exercises. Might have if I could have walked and moved perfectly for months or maybe the meniscus was already torn and just got worse.

I didn't realize how bad it had gotten when I did go to the ortho. He pointed out I had lost a significant amount of the range of motion. Me knee just seemed locked and I couldn't straighten my leg or walk normally. That made everything I did harder on my entire body. It was wearing me out, making my walking more difficult, causing problems in my legs, hips and back and finally causing me to do less (as I waited for the MRI, etc.). I made excuses for other muscles tightening -- figured I was getting older, etc. I slept on the sofa so the TV could distract me enough to fall asleep. I wouldn't stay asleep long enough or go back to sleep enough to get the rest I needed. That doesn't help your body cope with the injury or healing.

I had surgery last week and am now having to work even harder to regain what I lost. The lady next to me at PT yesterday had a frozen shoulder and had it in the other shoulder before. She and the therapist said it was very painful and difficult to work out even with help. She told me the doctor told her to rest it wit the first episode and that was the worst thing she could have done - only made it worse. She was a definite believer in getting help with the PT (having someone who knows what they are doing helping to manipulate and loosen the area) as well as exercising at home.

Go see your doctor and start PT (a PT generally needs an order from a dr to start treatment). If you are in the kind of pain you say you are, why wouldn't you do what you need to to get better? Why would you want it to get worse? My pain wasn't that bad and I still regretted not going in sooner.


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Funky...you may be entirely correct about what you think is wrong, but please go get it checked out by an ortho doc or better yet, a physiatrist. You sound well informed, so can make good, thoughtful decisions after you hear what he/she has to say! OK, lecture over..... :)


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RE: Frozen Shoulder

My advice is to see your primary care doctor first and let him/her establish a diagnosis. I had this in my right shoulder and it was simply awful! What helped me most was my PCP's referral to an orthopedic doc who specializes in shoulders.

I was 58, post-menopausal and also hypothyroid (but well controlled) with a strong family history of diabetes.

The orthopedic surgeon did a series of 3 cortisone shots (warning---it's like a major jolt of caffeine and kept me awake if I scheduled them late in the day). That, combined with physical therapy with someone who specializes in shoulder problems has been quite successful.

I have read that it is common for it to occur in the other shoulder at some point. Thankfully, that has not happened to me and I am careful to exercise, stretch and do the range of motion activities that the PT suggested.

One thing is clear to me: being on the computer exascerbated this condition in my case. I really try to limit myself to what I have to do at work and what I want to do to surf online!

Going to the doctor might be the first step to recovery. I sure hope so!


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