Today I want to write about my frozen shoulder.
I have been dealing with this the past 4, almost 5, months and I receive very mixed reactions when I tell people what is wrong with me. The telling people part is inevitable as I am walking around with my arm in a sling and off course I am going to be asked “what happened to your shoulder”. I could simply say I hurt it and leave it at that, but for some reason I feel obliged to explain to people what is wrong and this is where everything goes south.
The are two types of frozen shoulders, maybe more but I am addressing the most common assumption made.
When you had an operation on your shoulder doctors always advise to start using your arm and go for physio as soon as possible. Almost as soon as you open your eyes. This is to prevent the shoulder of going stiff , or in other terms frozen. This can be fixed with physio and some exercises to get the muscles moving again.
My frozen shoulder is completely different.
I have not had an operation on my arm and I have also not hurt my arm in any way. I started experiencing stiffness in my shoulder last year. It came to a point where if I make any sudden movements or try lifting myself or a weight in gym, even tripping over a step block with flailing arms, I want to cry. The sharp pain resulting from sudden movements was unbearable. My whole arm goes numb and then it is almost like I loose feeling in my arm and hand. This spread into my neck and back as well.
I did not know what was wrong. I went to a physiotherapist for a few sessions and the muscles was sorted in no time, but the pain was not. Also, the stiffness did not go away. In fact it got worse.
My husband came home one afternoon to me balling my eyes out. He thought I had cut off my finger or something because I am holding my arm, but all I did was I tried grabbing a bowl to keep it from falling and the pain got me.
I went to see a Orthopaedic specialist in November last year. I was hoping that he is going to tell me that we are going to push you into the theatre, cut and fix everything that is wrong and 6 weeks later you are good to go.
This was not the result.
He looked at me when I started explaining the symptoms and said “but you are very young”. I looked at him with this dumb expression thinking, and your point is?. He noticed that I am a Diabetic and everything came together. He said “well that makes a lot of sense”.
He told me I have a frozen shoulder and sent me off to have x-rays taken to confirm that it is not something else, but indeed a frozen one.
My muscles are fine-nothing wrong there. My bones are very pretty, according to the doctor. No damage was found, so the frozen shoulder is confirmed.
What does this mean?
It means that the tissue around the shoulder thickens to a point where you are not able to move your arm/shoulder any more. It happens in 3 phases.
Phase 1: It is starting to freeze, hence the stiffness.
Phase 2: It is frozen. This means no movement or use.
Phase 3: It starts to de-frost (for a lack of a better word). In this stage you can start with physio to help the muscles, not so much the frozen situation but the muscles are going to need help to return to normal as you are not using them.
Here is the worst part of all of it.
This whole process can take between 12-18 months and in some extreme cases 3-5 years. Diabetics are more likely to experience this for no reason at all. It usually happens to people at the age if 40 and older. I am 34. Duck you Fiabetes.
The doctor told me they do not know
- Why it happens
- What causes it
- How to prevent it
- or how to stop it.
The only thing they can do is to treat the pain. It is very painful. I am in almost constant pain everyday.
There is one thing they are certain about. If you had it once, you will not get it again.
The problem is in the tissue, not the muscle and not the bone. I have spoken to people who have had the same and there is nothing you can do except to wait it out. I have spoken to a different physiotherapist who told me you need to wait it out and do what the doctor says.
At this moment, I am in month 5. I have started sleeping sitting up at night. I am contstantly trying new positions to relieve the pain or make it a little more bearable. I am trying to tough out the pain and not take so many pain killers. I am seeing my specialist in March again.
I need to ask of you the following.
I appreciate your concern and willingness to help, so much. It warms my heart that everyone cares and wants to help. But, I would like to keep my conversations about this between my doctor and myself. I promise to discuss everything everyone has suggested to me with my doctor when I see him again. I trust him and I have spoken to a few of his patients who advised I am not making a mistake to let him treat me.
I will keep writing about this through the process as I will be researching this “thing” and include updates from my doctor.
Believe me when I say that I am exploring my own options, I am also praying that this soon will pass. I do not wish this on anyone.
Please have a look at this link which has a summary of what I have spoken about. This will provide a bit more clarity as well.
Please keep in mind the above is general. Some say do not stop moving your arm, but in my case the doctor told me to stop using my arm (it was causing me a lot of pain) and it could slow the process which we do not want. Everyone is different and different advice will be applied.
Till next time them.
Keep it un-frozen!