My shoulder diagnosis

I saw the orthopedist today and the verdict is that I have something called “frozen shoulder.”

According to this website:

Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is a disorder characterized by pain and loss of motion or stiffness in the shoulder. It affects about two percent of the general population. It is more common in women between the ages of 40 years to 70 years old. The causes of frozen shoulder are not fully understood. The process involves thickening and contracture of the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint.

Happy 40th birthday year to me right? He is not exactly sure what caused it, but he’s positive he’s made the right diagnosis. From reading websites about it, I have to agree. Unfortunately, the treatment doesn’t work overnight. I start physical therapy tomorrow going 3 times a week, plus exercises to do at home. It may take as long as a year or two until I have a full mobility back. Joy. He said about 5% of the cases do not respond to therapy and require surgery, but I’m not thinking about that right now.

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6 thoughts on “My shoulder diagnosis

  1. Rick says:

    Not thrilled I was right (and probably others were also, plus you’re own research). But at least you know what it is. Funny how common it is isn’t it? Now that you know the name, when you mention it to people in your age group everyone seems to know about it. Yes it will take awhile, but it will get better and no surgery is involved (or should be). Love the medical description – nice way to say it’s due to getting older! It did take my wife almost a year to get range of motion back. But she did and didn’t need surgery. We think hers flared because we repainted a few rooms and the repetitive up and down motion with the roller seemed to aggravate it. She uses a computer every day and didn’t have a problem.

    Good luck.

  2. Judi Sohn says:

    Rick, I was already leaning in this direction so I was very glad when the doc confirmed. I just got back from my first physical therapy appointment. And let me say it… ouch! I’m a trooper. I know it’s supposed to hurt.

    I did get yet another lecture from the physical therapist for letting it get this bad before seeking treatment. She measured my mobility, and in some cases where I should have as much as 45 to 60° of movement I had zip. Zilch. Nadda. She joked that I had nowhere to go but up.

  3. Rick says:

    Sorry to hear that. My wife also waited too long. We thought it was just soreness from painting (and we are both in our 50’s) so we figured it would take a few weeks to ‘heal’. Well, about 2 months later she finally saw a doc. Yep, it can only get better.

  4. Jason says:

    Don’t despair! I was diagnosed with frozen shoulder three months ago. The pain became difficult, especially at night, and didn’t respond to painkillers.

    The good news: Three months later I have full range of motion and no pain. The keys to my recovery, I believe, were having an excellent physical therapist (make sure he or she has experience healing frozen shoulders) and also (surprisingly) a course of theraputic deep tissue massage. The massage did the trick in relieving my back muscle spasms.

    Another key, I believe, is in religiously doing the home exercises.

    There will be days when you’ll be down and won’t think you can stand this for another moment. So it’s also important to set a goal for yourself. Mine was to be able to shoot baskets again.

    Good luck!

  5. Judi Sohn says:

    Thanks, Jason. I’ve been in physical therapy since I originally wrote this entry and it has made a big difference. I still don’t have 100% mobility, but it’s tons better than it was before. My therapist, who said she has treated hundreds of these, measured me today as a matter of fact in preparation for a follow-up appointment with the doc next week.

    Before I was able to rotate at the elbow (which she says is the key to shoulder movement) zero degrees, now it’s at about 50 degrees. All measurements show some improvement, some more than others. She said I should be in therapy another month or so. I can definitely feel a difference in the pain when I do things like wash my hair.

    And goal? I want to be able to put on my bra the “normal” way again instead of fastening it from the front, I want to be able to pop the gas tank on my car without taking off my seat belt and twisting around so I could do it with my right hand (the latch is on the lower left, the side of the bad shoulder), and I want to reach things on high shelves. 🙂

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