Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) new treatment ...

mama goose_gw zn6OH

... at least, new to me. This condition has been discussed many times, on different GW forums, but I'm sure there are still women (and men, to a lesser extent) who will not know about the condition from which they are suffering.

I've had it twice--once in each shoulder--several years apart. The second bout I self-diagnosed early on, but I endured months of misery with the first frozen shoulder, before actually going to the doctor, thinking that like tendonitis, all I needed was to stop using my shoulder, and let it rest. And then I endured a few more weeks of misery because the incident that made me realize I could no longer deal with the pain--a fall--happened on a day when my physician didn't have office hours, so I went to the local urgent care clinic. The young doctor there told me to wear a sling to immobilize the arm, the worst advice ever, but also told me to see my regular doctor. It didn't get better, so I made an appointment with my physician. As soon as I described my pain, and he checked to make sure it wasn't the rotator cuff, he told me I had adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder. Somewhere in the GW archives, there's a thread where I describe my treatment, and PT regimen, but the point of this thread is the following article:

Why Frozen Shoulder Is a Feminist Issue

I don't necessarily agree that it's a feminist issue, although sufferers are usually peri/post menopausal women. Both my father (a diabetic and former construction/heavy equipment operator), and my brother (construction/heavy equipment operator and probable future diabetic), have had frozen shoulders. I'm posting the link because the article very accurately describes the pain, and stages, of the condition, and mentions a saline treatment, along with cortisone injections.

My doctor gave me one cortisone injection with each bout of adhesive capsulitis, but, in my extensive research, I don't recall reading anything about the saline injections when I had my first one (Jan 2012). For those of you who might suffer a frozen shoulder, or who might again suffer one, and who will be searching the 'net, I hope this information will help. If you think you have a frozen shoulder, go to the doctor immediately--do not put it off.

Some excerpts from the linked article:

I ... feel a twinge of pain in my right shoulder. I cannot recall an injury, so I move onward ... and hope the pain will go away.

As the days pass, my right arm grows stiffer and weaker. I have to use my left arm to give my right arm a leg up, so to speak. By the time we get home ... the pain is a steady drone. No more yoga for me, but like busy women everywhere, I soldier on, working and organizing family life. Within a month, I am in sleepless, excruciating pain, edging closer to nine on the sad-face scale ... this is relentless — 24-7. ... I can barely hold a fork. I have to sign checks using my left hand to support my right.

(Dr.) Vad explains four distinct stages of the disease, each with an optimal treatment solution. His mantra is early diagnosis, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Because the disease will eventually resolve itself, patients are often still told to “wait it out,” resulting in many months or even years of needless suffering.

In Stage 1, which is where I was when I reached for a coffee cup and winced, a sonogram-guided cortisone injection into the shoulder joint can eliminate the pain and quickly restore mobility.

By now, I was in Stage 2, with severe pain and stiffness. Most doctors will advise arthroscopic surgery for this stage, which is invasive and expensive and can result in chronic pain… and a refrozen shoulder.

In Stage 3, the shoulder is frozen completely stiff and pain subsides. For this stage, arthroscopic surgery is the only treatment option.

Stage 4 is described as the “thawing” period.

Vad prefers to treat my Stage 2 case with a brief, inexpensive procedure called capsule distension. After a local anesthetic is administered, the shoulder joint is injected with saline to flush out and expand the joint, which has shrunk. ... After the saline, in goes some cortisone. Nice. Fifteen minutes, no incision, done.

Following my successful capsule distension, I worked with a physical therapist to regain strength and mobility.

Until a miracle pill comes along that will zap adhesive capsulitis after Stage 1, Vad hopes to create an environment where women in midlife are more informed and empowered. “With early intervention, we can save you months or years of suffering,” he says, restating his mantra. “If you have pain in your shoulder and there was no trauma and you are beginning to lose range of motion, you should get to a doctor immediately. If a few weeks of physical therapy do not bring good results, you should demand treatment for adhesive capsulitis. If you feel you might have a frozen shoulder, don’t sit and wait — take charge.”

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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

Thanks for the information. I am praying it is not in my or hubby's future. But I seem to be in the get everything category. Like my never ending shingles pain. Boy I wish someone would come up with a miracle cure for this lasting after effects pain.

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mama goose_gw zn6OH

You're welcome, raven. I've never had shingles, but several family members have, and they seem to be very painful. At least with a frozen shoulder the pain eventually subsides.

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desertsteph

I hope you are doing much better now mamag!

I understand the one limb helping the other... I had surgery on my left lower leg in early Aug and often use my right leg to move my left one while in bed - still.

and I've gone thru the checking writing problem. my right hand often shakes and jerks and I drop things... and a number of times at the bank my pen flew out of my hand aimed at the teller. he finally told me he'd put my name in and I could just put an X or my initials by it. much safer for him.

now one of my 4 trigger fingers is acting up and very swollen, so again I'm limited in use of my right hand. for a week I couldn't even hold a pen to sign/send a BD card to my gson. so he got it a week late - and it looked like a kid's writing when they're first learning. I struggle to even read something I've written.

my left arm is weak from a fall about 7 yrs ago... man, I hope I never get this frozen shoulder thing - I'm almost out of limbs! but I'm gonna save what you wrote in case I get that feeling in a shoulder area so I can look it up and see if it applies and get to my doctor for it..


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jemdandy

Would physical therapy help? Talk to your doctor.

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mama goose_gw zn6OH

desertsteph, thank you! My second frozen shoulder was a few years ago, and I've regained almost 100% range of motion. Let's face it, though, at 61 my range of motion is not what it used to be. ;)

jemdandy, my doctor gave me the choice, both times, to have PT at a facility, or to use a self-directed plan. I chose the self-directed PT regimen because I could follow it at home. It took a couple of months of diligent exercising to regain my normal range of motion.

If I've been working (painting, lifting boxes, yard work), I notice some popping in my shoulders when I stretch my arms, but other than that, I think I've recovered.

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sleeperblues

Thanks for the information. That sounds really painful and I'm glad you are regaining full use. I did something to my back, I think it was assisting with a lift of a patient at work, but I can't be sure. It's a weird pain, just on the right lower side. Today it's starting to affect my hip. Sigh, the fun of growing old(er)

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mama goose_gw zn6OH

Oh, yeah, the back is another issue--at my age, I've decided to be more careful in the future. sleeperblues, I hope your back pain is quickly resolved.

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David&Sue Schoch

Frozen shoulders are more often seen in patients who are diabetic or have hiper/hopo thyroid problems. Blood sugar & thyroid levels should be checked with any new Frozen Shoulder DX.

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dee_can1

I am seeing this at this later date, but was going to add that I just read an article about frozen shoulder and thyroid problems (as was mentioned right above me). I have Hashimoto's and I'm dealing with a frozen shoulder right now. It seems to me that obviously being optimized on thyroid medication would help a great deal, but also I find I have to keep on my exercising and just moving, and even light weight exercises for my upper body including shoulders. If I get slack on that, my shoulder gets worse. My chiropractor also told me some exercises to do.

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1929Spanish-GW

I had this and didn't even know. My pilates instructor worked me through this and now I make sure to work it out and keep it in motion.

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joann_fl

I had it for over a year, no fun at all!

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I'd like to remind everyone that serious pain in the shoulder can be caused by a few different problems. I'm being treated for a shoulder impingement, extremely painful and debilitating but requiring different treatment than for a frozen shoulder.

Expert evaluation of the problem is necessary so that we get the correct physio for our individual situation.

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dee_can1

That's true. I didn't mean to insinuate that it was caused ONLY from thyroid problems, but it's just something interesting I read. People with thyroid problems get all sorts of weird problems. But definitely, there can be other causes. Nonetheless, I have no doubt that exercises for range of motion are a definite help. Use it, or lose it.


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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

dee, I agree....my physiotherapy, designed specifically for impingement, has been dramatically helpful. It wouldn't work for other shoulder problems.

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Feathers11

I had 2 frozen shoulders about 6 months apart, one in each shoulder. I was barely in my 40s and even though my mother had had one and thyroid issues run in my family, I didn't make the connection with the first one. I was young and fit and thought the achy pain was because my shoulder exercises needed more oomph, so I amped up workouts. The pain got a lot worse. I read somewhere that a frozen shoulder is like a scab over a wound and too intense exercise is like peeling off the scab and delaying the healing process. I wish I would have saved that article because it helpful at the time.

My first frozen shoulder was formally diagnosed during the most intensely painful phase and I was given prescription pain medicine. I took it as directed and found no relief so stopped. I eventually found what worked for me and it healed in about 12 months. When the next shoulder started showing signs, I knew what to do and it lasted about 8 months.

It's a depressing period of time. To those going through it, I wish you the best as it's a very misunderstood condition. It also completely changes your day-to-day living. Even simple things like reaching for my seatbelt and putting on a bra were altered. Today my favorite stretch is lying on my back with arms at 10 and 2 o'clock, flat on the floor, because there was a time my arms couldn't do that.

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