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Frozen Shoulder Syndrome

Short and sweet description of "Frozen shoulder", also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint. Signs and symptoms begin gradually, worsen over time and then resolve, usually within a two-year period.

DISCLAIMER: This information is in no way shape or form intended to advise anybody about what you should personally do if you are suffering from anything that remotely sounds like the same issue.  It's intent is to just be aware of this condition to bring up to your doctor incase he/she is not familiar with it, you can tell them to look into it.

Hit Counter posted 9/24/2010 I am curious if this information was helpful or interesting let me know. click here

I really felt it was important information to make available to anyone who was curious or interested in medical conditions because if I had this information when it happened to me I could have spared myself stress, time, pain and money.

  In 2007 when the California fires threaten my home I started packing.

  This was the view from my front door.  I packed all night long with out stopping. By morning I was exhausted but satisfied that I learned a lot from the drill. Only one thing. my shoulder was sore and then I had to unpack when the threat was gone. Even though my shoulder was hurting I could still move it just as long as I moved deliberately and careful not to move suddenly. One day I went out with my husband and threw my pocketbook in the car and with horrific pain in my shoulder I dropped to my knees and cried out like a wounded animal and sobbed uncontrollably. Very unlike me, I am known to have a high tolerance for pain so coming from me I can tell you, it was serious.  I went to the doctor. He didn't know what it was but was guessing it was arthritis and said to hold my arm close to me and don't use it until I can see a specialist. This was the mistake he made. Not knowing what it was, he should have made arrangements for me to see the specialist within a few days instead of a few weeks. Also, he should have said, use it but be careful not to hurt it again. By the time I saw the specialist and he asked me to move my arm....it was stuck to me. It was so stuck to me I couldn't thread a wash cloth under my armpit. The first thing this particular specialist wanted to do, was to inject the shoulder with corticosteroid shot.   It already hurt just standing there and your getting a very large needle straight into the shoulder joint. If sobbing the entire time tells you anything think about it. The worst part is that he could hit or miss and need to do it again and I said " there is no way you are going to stick me again" I want another opinion. 

Thank God for second opinions, I'll tell you!   The second doctor knew he didn't know what it was and that it wasn't arthritis and referred me to the third doctor who was a sports medicine specialist, without exaggeration, in 30 seconds of looking at me he told me exactly what I had, what it was like, what it was going to do and how long it was going to last.  The only thing he couldn't answer was why I had pain that overall constant pain at the time was from my elbow down to my finger tips, and later progressed to include the entire shoulder system.  In retrospect I can tell you he was right on in everything he said and he said it short and confidently. He wanted to give me a shot and he assured me he never misses and I said too late I had a shot he missed and I am not going through that again even if you don't miss. He said that's fine, with this condition if you did absolutely nothing, your range of motion would eventually return in a few years. It was good to know that this wasn't permanent anyway.

 

What Is Frozen Shoulder?

Best Description from  http://orthopedics.about.com/cs/frozenshoulder/a/frozenshoulder.htm

Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that causes restriction of motion in the shoulder joint. The cause of a frozen shoulder is not well understood, but it often occurs for no known reason. Frozen shoulder causes the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint to contract and form scar tissue.

What causes frozen shoulder?
Most often, frozen shoulder occurs with no associated injury or discernible cause. There are patients who develop a frozen shoulder after a traumatic injury to the shoulder, but this is not the usual cause. Some risk factors for developing a frozen shoulder include:

  • Age & Gender
    Frozen shoulder most commonly affects patients between the ages of 40 to 60 years old, and it is twice as common in women than in men.
  • Endocrine Disorders
    Patients with diabetes are at particular risk for developing a frozen shoulder. Other endocrine abnormalities, such as thyroid problems, can also lead to this condition.
  • Shoulder Trauma or Surgery
    Patients who sustain a shoulder injury, or undergo surgery on the shoulder can develop a frozen shoulder joint. When injury or surgery is followed by prolonged joint immobilization, the risk of developing a frozen shoulder is highest.
  • Other Systemic Conditions
    Several systemic conditions such as heart disease and Parkinson's disease have also been associated with an increased risk for developing a frozen shoulder.

What these sites and the doctors don't tell you, the miserable experience.

After a month of constant 24/7 pain went by and no one wanted to touch the subject of what was causing my general overall pain that encompass half my back from my spine to my shoulder and all of my shoulder blade. The pain continued down my arm to the tips of my fingers. That was not consistent with frozen shoulder but still there none the less. The doctor prescribed a pain killer used on cancer patience and it didn't help. On top of my misery, I just suffered with a few of the side effects from it like nausea and constipation and nothing for the pain, so I stopped them. The level of the pain was tolerable for  an hour or even a day but after a few days it was the elements of being tiered and aching and non-stop steady discomfort. The pain of the shoulder itself was another matter that interfered with sleep. No matter which way I laid down, gravity would pull my shoulder too far in any direction. For 5 months, I slept sitting up with 5 pillows on my lap and my head bent over.

Physical Therapy and Range of Motion and Strength

Even after the sports doctor told me I didn't have to do anything, I went to therapy because it was comforting to received deep tissue message, heat therapy and electric therapy by a tens unit after exercising. October 2007 is when it all started and long story short, I received a tens unit to take home and I still use it today going on three years. I understood from the therapist, that it worked by the electrical pulse blocking the nerves from sending pain message to the brain. One site said it stimulated the nerves to promote faster healing. I felt like it was a good distraction because it simply changed the feeling instead of the constant consistent hum of the Fibromyalgia pain. You would think there would be a conflict of interest here. If the fibromyalgia is caused by over active nerve endings, then why would the tens unit which simulates the nerves feel good to me? you would think it would cause more pain at this time.  I don't know but that's okay I will throw it out there because if it works for you great!  After, I spent 5 months in therapy, one day the pain just stopped like an on/ off valve on a faucet. The freezing stage was over. Just like that. Hallelujah I finally could get some sleep. Sleep depravation was no picnic either. 

Now I was able to start to try and do things for myself. In those freezing 5 months I could only sit on the couch and just fight by the urge to cry out loud. Early on I cut my hair short because my husband couldn't manage maintaining it.. Since I was right handed you can image what difficulty this presented with personal hygiene, I couldn't brush my teeth. This is a sample I did to demonstrate my range of motion. January 13, 2008 I put paper on the coffee table put down a center point and use my husbands wedding band as a reference in the center. Then with a black felt pen held my arm straight like a pendulum and moved my arm around to make as large a circle as I could, which came to about 5 inches across. At this stage I had gone out to walk the dog with the leash in my left hand and the dog pulled me as I tripped and did a face plant right on the road with my forehead because I couldn't put my arm out to block the fall.  The defrosting stage was much better as far as pain goes but that's not to say there was no pain.  The pain was like crackling or popping, tiny zingers when you lest expected them. Today September 24, 2010. I can move my arm up in front of me just a few inches short of my left arm, which is not perfect but acceptable. Lifting my arm straight out to my sides and up to touch my left over my head is slow a still hurts. If I lace my fingers behind my head and try to flatten my elbows, that still hurts. I still can't bear my own weight on my elbow lying in bed.  

Update Feb, 7 2011.  I am still have not reached a 100% range of motion without some discomfort but now I am confident it will return. I can bear the weight of my head on my elbow now. I would get random pain all over the affected area and was unaware one day that I could have my arms down by my sides and raise them up to meet over my head and it didn't hurt.  I wondered which one of those random pains were the ones that released my arm  for that particular movement. uhmmm.

Update Oct 28, 2011. Almost there! The orginal forecast for recovery was within two years, I guess was an average for me it was a little over three years.  I can now move my arm in every possible direction imaginable without pain but it is still a strain and do it, and carefully out of fear.  I still don't have the muscle tone I use to but I am now satisfied that I am fully recovered. Praise God.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcutaneous_electrical_nerve_stimulation

Interesting link. 

Chiropractors and Alternative Medicine

One of my clients told me they were seeing a Chiropractor regularly for knee and back problems and if it weren't for this practitioner they swear they wouldn't have been able to walk today. So I went to see him and I did get some comfort and some different ideas and confirmation from him. By the time I was seeing him the pain was no longer just my shoulder but every single muscle and nerve endings. I was exhausted and an emotional train wreck for lack of sleep.  The simple act of deep tissue messaging and stretching the muscles from someone that knew what they were doing was comforting. He confirmed that I would be okay in two years and advised me not to allow anyone to wrench my arm around un anesthesia because it was barbaric and people that I hade it done were worst off and were set back with scar tissue. He told me getting x-rays and MRI was a waste of insurance money and my time. I allowed him to treat me with the Chinese Cupping.

 I believe the following paragraph is how it works and don't really believe much about ying and yang but you can read the entire article at this site.  http://www.chinesecupping.net/

  "The essential oils applied on the skin and the rubbing action associated with cupping also provides an effective healing solution. Normally, your back will receive liberal amounts of oils during cupping sessions. After establishing the cups on their appointed spots, the therapist will run the cups along your muscles and nerve endings. The massaging action coupled with the suction technique can stimulate activity of health cells. This is made possible through the promotion of excellent blood circulation. With good circulation and healthy activity and growth of cells, your body immune system can effectively fight diseases. This then will lead to good health." 

This Chiropractor was the only person involved that addressed the overall pain I was complaining about that the other three doctors refused to address. They each said they didn't know why I had pain all over that it wasn't part of the frozen shoulder symptoms and they would discuss it later and that never happened.  This Chiropractor said the same thing in the first breath and added in the next that it was probably Flbromyalgia.  That made sense to me once I started researching it. Another thing that helped was taking an herbal muscle relaxer. My back was full of knots from my muscles contracting, 

Since the frozen shoulder works by your body creating an adhesive to stop you from moving your arm then this adhesive was probably causing my nerve endings to become hypersensitive causing fibromyalgia. I finally convinced my doctor to order a tens unit.

Fybromyalgia Description

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fibromyalgia/DS00079

 You hurt all over, and you frequently feel exhausted. Even after numerous tests, your doctor can't find anything specifically wrong with you. If this sounds familiar, you may have fibromyalgia.

No one at any time, thought of offering me Lyrica. Which I hear about myself on TV after the fact so I can't talk about that. I only know that the side effects could be a problem too.

 

Links and references to frozen shoulder sites. 

Here are just a few as examples of the diverse descriptions and controversy about the treatment. Just to confuse the issue and make you feel completely vulnerable and at the mercy of doctors. you can google the word Fibromyalgia 

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/frozen-shoulder/DS00416

http://orthopedics.about.com/cs/frozenshoulder/a/frozenshoulder.htm

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000455.htm

http://www.chinesecupping.net/

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fibromyalgia/DS00079

 

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