My frozen shoulder experience

DIAGNOSIS

If you have been diagnosed with a frozen shoulder (also known as adhesive capsulitis), you have my greatest sympathies.  It is disabling, agonizing, distressing both mentally and physically, immobilizing, exhausting, draining, overwhelming and frightening, and when you’re in the middle of it, you wonder if you’ll ever get your life back.  If you haven’t had a frozen shoulder, you will most likely think wow, what a load of tosh and over-reaction and that I’m a bit of a drama queen.  All I can say is, unless you’ve had it, or something similar, you can’t possibly understand it, but hopefully this article may help you if you have had it, have it now, or if you are living with someone who has it.

PLEASE NOTE:  IF YOU ARE HAVING SERIOUS ISSUES AND FEEL LIKE YOU’RE REACHED THE END OF YOUR TETHER, PLEASE DON’T GIVE UP… REACH OUT TO A PROFESSIONAL WHO MAY HELP YOU… HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS

211 Helplines
1 (800) 273-8255
Lifeline network
NAMI

https://www.nami.org/

National Institute of Health, 301-443-4536

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/site-info/contact-nimh.shtml

HOW DOES FROZEN SHOULDER AFFECT YOU?

Your life is 100 times harder, you struggle to dress yourself, can’t wash your face or hair or brush your teeth (with the arm involved), can’t get your hand to your face, can’t put a shirt over your head, you struggle to tuck yourself in if wearing jeans or skirts (I stopped trying), you can’t lift things, can’t move your arm more than a few inches in any direction, you can’t put your bra on, can’t even shrug your shoulders (the most basic thing of all!).  You can’t go through any kind of drive through (for food or the bank) – or if you do you have to park away from it, get out of the car and walk to the ATM – you can’t feed yourself properly, you can’t sleep, using a hairdryer in one hand and a brush in the other is out of the question – it’s hard to even wash your hair unless you do it one-handed. You start walking funny because you ache all over, your neck aches, your shoulders ache because your body is “out of whack” and distended – it starts affecting every aspect of your life, both waking and sleeping – it is just a horrible, horrible predicament.   It is still somewhat of an enigma, nobody REALLY knows what it is, what causes it or how to cure it, there are lots of opinions, and myriad medical doctors who will offer expensive surgery.  There are multiple options out there for other types of treatment, most of them (I believe) are detrimental to the healing process.  Sure, some of them may help, but some of them may hinder, but the most important thing is that you are not bullied into having surgery or doing anything that doesn’t feel right for you.

It has been such a lengthy, damaging, exhausting and distressing time in my life.  I have been led up and down the garden path, been told one thing and then another, spent a fortune on all kinds of doctors and chiropractors and physical therapists, and been so confused that I didn’t know where to turn. Trying to turn over in bed or even just shift positions would mean such a massive effort.  It would mean relocating the bad arm by manually lifting it up with the good arm and putting it down somewhere and then working my body in to fit where the arm was (hard to explain.)  Usually the pain would result in my tearing up with exhaustion and frustration and pain (mostly exhaustion) – it was just awful.  I couldn’t bear to be in the same bed as my husband in case he accidentally touched my arm or hand in the night, or even if he turned over in bed roughly (it would jolt my arm) – so I moved into the spare room while I was going through all this – it’s so hard to find a comfortable position and in the end, spent so much time awake that I would just put the TV on and try to get through the night as best as I could – so it’s just as well I wasn’t sharing with my husband.  He would never have had a good night’s sleep.

I have only just started getting my life back, my shoulder has just started suddenly and miraculously “thawing”, and that is why I am writing this story, in case you are going through the same confusion and just want to read a story about something you can relate to – knowing that there is hope, there is light at the end of the tunnel, you can get your life back.  You are not alone.

Many, many people have what you have, some worse, some not as badly.  Many have recovered, many are in the recovery process, many have undergone treatment and surgery, and many haven’t.  I have not had surgery, but I have tried all sorts of treatments, and as I finally entered the thawing stage this month, I feel I can write about it, knowing the end is in sight.  Before this week, I was unable to talk about it because I was still right in the middle of it – I was depressed, exhausted, frustrated, and worst of all, nobody else understood what I was going through.  I couldn’t tie my hair up into a pony tail and ended up asking strangers in shops or customers to help me (my poor husband tried a couple of times to help me with my hair, with a clip or a scrunchy,  and I looked like I had put my finger into a plug socket – it was terrible).  I could brush my hair with my right hand, but that was it – could not put a clip in or even think of tying it up.  Just impossible.  My husband would watch me concerned as I tried to eat, but would have to lower my head down to my fork, almost table level, just to get a forkful of food, but he couldn’t understand, and possibly thought I was just over-reacting.  It’s so hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it.

I know a lot of people don’t believe that chiropractic treatments don’t really work,  they’re skeptical about chiropractors, they don’t think they deserve to have the “Dr.” in front of their names , and this is what I have to say.  OK, so they’re not medical doctors, but they have to study really hard and work for many years before they can be certified, it’s not just a weekend course – they have to study the human body and physiology and the skeletal and muscular systems  in great detail and if you find a good one, you will NEVER regret it.   A good one will change your life.   True, there are a lot of “not so good” chiropractors out there and if you’ve been to a lousy chiropractor, you’ll never want to go to another one.  There are also a LOT of “not so good” medical doctors  out there, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never go to another doctor, right?  All I can say is that a good chiropractor is a LIFE SAVER, and I cannot recommend them highly enough.

THE BEGINNING

It seems a lifetime ago but only 11 months ago I was as fit as a fiddle – swimming, snorkeling in the warm Atlantic Ocean off Fort Lauderdale, diving in the wonderfully warm cobalt blue ocean from our small boat, chasing after dolphins (both real dolphins as well as mahi-mahi swimming round the boat), pulling myself into the boat using the small ladder (which would yank at both shoulders if the sea was rough),  hand-standing and cart-wheeling with my young niece, lifting heavy furniture (a solid 200 pound armoire) for the upcoming in-laws’ visit, grabbing onto the ladder when docking the boat, putting crockery away on high shelves from the dishwasher, going horseback riding, cycling, going to archery classes with my husband (his idea – in preparation for when zombies take over the world, thanks to shows like Zombieland, The Walking Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and my personal favorite and the only zombie movie I’ve watched, Shawn of the Dead, etc.), driving the stick shift pickup, and just going about my daily business without an inkling of what was coming my way.    Any or all or none of these things could have set it off.

This is how it seems to happen for a lot of people.  There is no terrible trauma or single event when you wrench your shoulder traumatically and squeal “Ouch, my shoulder!”  I have absolutely no idea when I injured my shoulder, or how I injured it – could have been any of the above, or it could even be something as asinine and mundane as sleeping on my left side at night instead of on my back.  I do remember waking up several mornings over a period of about a month, feeling stiff and sore in that shoulder after sleeping on my side, although the pain always went away – but after a few weeks of having morning shoulder discomfort, I decided to revert to the old way of sleeping on my back.

My frozen shoulder could have resulted from any one of these things, the swimming, the diving, the hand-standing, the lifting – or it could have been a combination of things, or it could have been none of these things.  I just don’t know because there was no defining moment that I knew I had injured myself.  To be honest, I was not in particularly good physical shape at the time – I suffer from chronic laziness (I don’t actually suffer from it, I quite enjoy it, if I’m honest) and frankly, well, I just don’t like to exercise.  Never have.  Yes I tried to do some cycling from time to time, but the most I could manage was 10 miles once every few weeks, walking my bike over the SE 17th Street Bridge in Fort Lauderdale and then freewheeling home, while my husband whizzed by at 30 miles an hour on his second 10-mile lap.  I had become vegan a couple of years ago after my doctor told me my cholesterol was very high, and I had lost weight, dropped my blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and I was feeling great – even if I was not particularly physically active.  I did some rebounding on my small rebounder (mini-trampoline) from time to time – probably the only physical exercise I somewhat enjoyed, but I must admit I was very lazy and pretty inactive.   On the other hand, I wasn’t a couch potato.  I help my husband run his business, I have my own home-based business too, so I’m never sitting around doing nothing – always on the go either in his office, driving, seeing his distributors and customers, working on the computer etc.  We work long hours too, leaving home at 7 am, sometimes not home till 6 or so, not leading a sedentary day but not a physically exertive or strenuous day either.

All I know is that I started having slight pain and discomfort in my left shoulder around June 2013.  I even mentioned to my husband when we were in the Keys that my shoulder was painful and we both thought the best thing was just to rest it for a while.

So that’s what I did.  I carried on doing what I do, using my left arm as always from the elbow down but making sure that the movement from my shoulder was limited, and if any movement I did caused any discomfort, I stopped it immediately.  I didn’t put the arm in a sling, but I definitely used it a lot less, thinking that I was doing the right thing.  The pain didn’t get any worse but then I didn’t really use my arm much, so I was totally unaware that it was just “setting” in place.  Resting it like that was the worst thing I could have done, but I had no idea at the time.  A few weeks later, when I tried to lift my arm to put something away on a high shelf, I was completely horrified to find that I just could not lift my arm more than a couple of feet.  It felt like someone was pushing down on it, that the muscles that normally lifted it were completely useless.  I was still not too alarmed – just sort of brushed it off and made sure I didn’t even try to lift it like that any more – and carried on.

One day I was going to get some humus from one of our favorite take-away restaurants, and I stumbled a little and bumped into a pillar with my left shoulder.  If it had been my right shoulder, I wouldn’t even have noticed it – certainly if anyone else had bumped his/her shoulder, it would have been so insignificant that they wouldn’t even have registered what they’d done – but for me, the bump was absolute agony.  I remember the searing pain in my shoulder, so much so that I started seeing stars and feeling faint, and I doubled up in pain and simply dropped to the ground groaning in absolute and complete physical anguish.  As is often the way in south Florida, nobody else paid any attention to me and the diners at the outside tables simply carried on as if I wasn’t even there.  I literally managed to sit upright with my feet in the gutter, holding my upper arm and trying to catch my breath, tears pouring down my cheeks.  The pain did not last that long – it faded pretty quickly, but it was the first real wake up call that something was wrong.  No gentle bump on the arm should have that affect, and it was so bad that when I took my niece and nephew to the Museum of Science & Discovery in Fort Lauderdale, when they wanted to go on the “airboat ride” (a few benches that vibrated and jolted about a bit in front of a movie screen), I was too afraid to join them so just watched from the side.  When they wanted to go on the rocket trip to Mars (a suspended cage that also vibrated and jolted and bumped about in front of a screen), again, I was too afraid of the pain and ended up paying one of their employees $20 to accompany them (children on this ride had to be accompanied by an adult) – I was terrified that my arm would be jolted or bumped, and the anticipated ensuing agony prevented me from going on these basic rides with them.

WHAT TO DO?

My next question was, what do I do and were do I go?  What kind of doctor do I see?  My Primary Care physician was not a particularly good one.    My few visits to him had not ended well, and I know he’d have told me to take two aspirin and well, just don’t call him (I have since changed doctors and now have a really excellent PCP – happy to provide his name if anyone is interested).  I asked my ObGyn during my annual checkup and he didn’t really have any idea what could be wrong, but suggested an orthopedic surgeon.  Then, as luck would have it, one of my neighbor had just had some shoulder issues herself (rotator cuff problem) and she’d been to see an Orthopedic Surgeon close by, and he’d performed arthroscopic surgery on her and she said he was good – so I figured he’d be a good place to start.

THE ORTHOPAEDIC SURGEON (O.S.)

I’m not going to mention this doctor’s name because (as you’ll see), I don’t think he was much good at all, even though he is one of the top rated Orthopedic specialists in south Florida, with accolades and glowingly positive reviews posted everywhere.  He sounded fantastic so even though I couldn’t get an appointment for three weeks, I decided to hold out and see him – I wanted the BEST I could get.  I was happy he was covered by my insurance, with only a $50 co-payment required on my part.  I couldn’t wait for my appointment to him, as I figured he’d have all the answers and I’d come out of his office right as rain.

The visit was over quickly.  After being shown into his office, an assistant came in and asked me a few questions, and told me I’d have to go and have an X-Ray (fortunately they had an X-Ray machine in their surgery).  The Radiographer took an x-ray of my left shoulder and I returned to the medical exam room, where I met the O.S.  He asked me to lift my arm to the side (about 2 feet) and in front of me (about 3 feet).  He asked to check internal/external rotation, and external rotation was zero, and he said “Classical Frozen Shoulder.”  He said on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, I was a “7”.  He didn’t really do anything else or ask me much, and was 100% confident in his diagnosis.  I asked him how he could be so sure that it was FS after literally examining me for no more than two minutes, and while he didn’t actually snap at me, he was very abrupt when he said “It’s obvious.  You can’t lift your arm.  It’s frozen shoulder.”  I guess he’s so used to seeing this sort of thing that he doesn’t need more than 120 seconds to diagnose someone.  He said it’s very common in Caucasian women between 40 and 60 (I think those were the years he mentioned).

He prescribed PREDNISONE (an anti-inflammatory steroid, the only side effect I might feel, he told me, would be that I MIGHT feel a little “wired”), and said I should have 6 weeks of physiotherapy.  If that didn’t help, he’d operate on me, basically put me under anesthetic, manually manipulate my arm into every angle possible (with a 2% chance that this would break my arm), and then go in arthroscopically to clear out any debris.  The procedure is called MUA (Manipulation Under Anesthesia).   After that I’d have to undergo more physiotherapy and hopefully within another 6 months, I’d have most of my movement back.

I asked him if there were any other options, and he told me no.  He said his staff could recommend a physiotherapist, suggested I swim as often as I can (I don’t have a pool but took note of the recommendation) and he gave me two lots of Prednisone scripts – one prescription of Prednisone would come in a bubble pack and one would be loose tablets in a bottle, but he wasn’t particularly clear on how to take them.  When I filled the prescription, I did ask the pharmacist how I should take them, if I should be taking both the bubble-pack Prednisone AND the loose tablets in the bottle at the same time – and she told me yes, as long as I take them with food.  I was absolutely clear with her that I didn’t know how to take them, and double checked – take both of these together?  Yes!  So for the first five days I was taking both lots TOGETHER, and it was only when I started feeling really weird that I called the doctor’s office, and asked his medical assistant – she told me absolutely NOT.  You take the bubble-pack first, finish that prescription first and once that’s finished, THEN you start on the loose tablets in the bottle.  By then it was almost too late as I had (from what I remember) almost finished the bubble pack.  How irresponsible of that pharmacist!  MAKE SURE YOU ASK YOUR DOCTOR FOR DETAILS ON TAKING YOUR PILLS BECAUSE YOU CANNOT RELY ON A PHARMACIST!!!!

I cannot say I felt any better taking the Prednisone, i.e. the pain in my shoulder and upper arm didn’t lessen at all, there was no more flexibility, and I just started feeling awful.  I couldn’t sleep at all – I felt like a florescent light bulb was going off in my mind, I was exhausted, emotional (probably from the lack of sleep), and I was easily reduced to tears or fits of rage (which surprised my husband because I am usually very mild mannered and he and I NEVER fight or disagree about things – we get along so well!) – and one of the worst things was, after being vegan for two years, not even THINKING about eating red meat, after three weeks on Prednisone, while making hamburger for my husband (obviously no vegan), I suddenly started absolutely CRAVING this raw ground beef that I was mixing, and I really had to fight these cravings not to grab handfuls of it and shove that into my mouth.  That’s when I thought hmmm, this isn’t right.  My period came two weeks early (I’ve been as regular as clockwork since I was 13) – and I just couldn’t function properly any more.  I was absolutely ravenous all the time – not just hungry, but absolutely starving – the minute I finished eating a big meal, I was starving again and all I could do was eat, eat, and eat.  I was getting up at 2 am to eat – something I have never ever done before – all side effects of the Prednisone (which I hadn’t realized).  As a result, I think I gained about 15 pounds – I was absolutely unstoppable with eating, and had such strong cravings for meat (which I fought, but they were there, nevertheless).  The mood swings were awful – a side effect of the medication, but also possibly a side effect of the insomnia and resulting lack of sleep.  When my period came early and I started craving the raw meat, I just flushed the tablets immediately – they hadn’t helped me at ALL as far as getting movement back (I’d been going to physiotherapy for three weeks by then).  I called the doctor’s office and told them what I’d done – they recommended another anti-inflammatory, but I declined.  I didn’t want to go through anything like that again and seriously urge you to read up about the side effects from any steroid medication you are prescribed BEFORE you start taking it.  I hear Prednisone works very well for a lot of people, lots of people don’t experience any side effects, so I’m not saying don’t take it – it may be just the thing to help you – I’m just saying just be aware of the side effects before you take it and if you start feeling weird, CALL YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY.

So, now to the physical therapy.  I booked my first physical therapy appointment for a few days after my O’S.’s visit, so as to give the anti-inflammatory some time to work (which we all know didn’t), and went to a Physical Therapy chain (name deliberately omitted) that apparently accepted my health insurance, at a $50/session copayment.  (Only when I finished physio and called my health insurance company to see how many sessions they’d submitted did I find out that they hadn’t submitted a single one – my $50/session copay had been the entire payment and they’d never even contacted my health insurance company.)

What you don’t realize is that with a frozen shoulder, the rest of your body compensates dramatically.  I started walking funny, my neck and head ached, when I stood straight up I could tell the difference in my shoulders, the way one drooped and the way one was high – my upper vertebrate in my neck hurt, my shoulders were always sore, the muscles in my neck and shoulders were painful, and the left scapula area was excruciating to the touch – if I put pressure on it or tried to massage it, I found some of the pressure points were agonizing. I was sitting strangely, when I was driving I adopted a strange posture – I was completely out of whack, simply because of this frozen shoulder.

PHYSICAL THERAPY/PHYSIOTHERAPY

The Physical Therapists (who shall remain nameless) told me they’d had lots of experience with frozen shoulders, and the way they treated me was to give me some basic exercises (the shoulder pulley, holding a broom handle and pushing it from side to side, hand walking up the wall, pushing my arm to the left while strapping the upper arm to the body etc.), and then they’d spend a few minutes stretching me out.  They believed in “no pain no gain” and I was often in tears of agony while they insisted that this was the best way.  The stretching was absolute agony – but they wanted to go past that because otherwise apparently I was not achieving anything.  It was absolutely excruciating.   They gave me the same exercises to do at home – also sit next to a table at right angles to the table, place my arm on the table and while keeping it straight, push it as far up as I could go.  I couldn’t even get my arm ON the table, let alone push it anywhere.  I was going three times a week, paying $50 a time, and while I enjoyed the initial heating-pad they put on me at the beginning of each session and the ice pack they put on at the end of each session, I hated every minute of physical therapy because of the pain involved.  I also did not like that I was paying $50 each session, and the PT would just more or less tell me “OK, do this exercise now” and then set the timer, go off and either work with other patients or sit and do emails or chat to colleagues about the pizza last night or football – not paying ANY attention to me until the timer went off and they had to point me to another exercise.  I felt for $50, they should be paying more attention to ME because I was paying for individual care.  I kept on going two or three times a week, but not making much progress.  I would make a little progress, maybe half an inch in movement, but the pain that resulted was awful.

After a few months of this, I finally thought ENOUGH.  I had spent over $1000 on this PT and told them I couldn’t afford to go any more – suddenly they said oh, well, why don’t you pay for the monthly rate ($50 per month), unlimited sessions – I would do the exercises by myself (which I had been doing anyway) and they would still stretch me out at the end.  I couldn’t believe this – why hadn’t they suggested this before?  When I paid the $50 and went for one session, it was EXACTLY THE SAME as before, they spent no more and no less time on me – so I could have saved $1000.  SHAME ON THEM.  They never submitted it to my insurance company, but I paid on credit card so I know that it didn’t go off the books – I just think it’s a way for them to be profitable while preying on people like me who desperately need help, but don’t know they can get it for just $50 a month instead of $50 per session (depending on what insurance you have).  I have Coventry, if anyone’s interested.

Anyway, I digress.

So there I was, doing PT for weeks and weeks but somehow knowing that there were better ways to get better.  Apart from the lack of motion and pain, my arm would feel like it was about to pop out of its socket.  I know it wasn’t really going to pop out of the socket, but if I relaxed the muscles at all, I would get the awful sharp sensation that it was coming loose (all part of the FS symptoms) – the most horrible, horrible feeling.  At night, if I was lying on my right side, with my left arm down my side, trying to relax – the minute I DID relax, I would feel the crackle of the arm coming out of the shoulder socket – so I would shout in pain and tense up the muscles again, making sure they were as tense as could be so as to prevent the arm from popping out the socket.  It’s hard to describe, but if you have what I had, then you’ll know.  There were pops and crackles too, pops like when you pop the air out of a joint (like cracking a knuckle) and after the pop, there was a feeling of relief – there wasn’t any pain with this pop, just a surprise feeling, so the pops were welcomed.  The crackling and joint-coming-loose sensations were not welcome – they were awful.  Just relaxing the arm completely would result in this feeling, so at night, when relaxing, I’d just get comfortable and relax and then bam, arm out of socket feeling – so I’d tense up and try to sleep tensed up.

Sleeping was incredibly difficult – I mostly slept on my back, with my right arm I’d stretch it out sideways until it felt comfortable, and then reposition my right arm again so I was flat on my back again, but it was mostly extremely uncomfortable.  If I tried to rest my hand on my tummy, the tightness of the muscles wouldn’t allow it and even though I tried really hard, my hand would be sticking out way over my tummy, hanging in mid air.  Nothing I could do could make it go down and actually rest ON my tummy.  It’s a strange thing to behold – you can relax as much as you can, and yet your arm from the elbow down is standing up almost straight, hanging there in mid air!  I tried resting it on pillows and all sorts of things – but nothing worked – and I was getting maybe two hours of sleep a night, if I was lucky.  I was constantly exhausted, and as we all know, prolonged fatigue can really wear down your spirit and your soul, making you depressed and just generally run down.  I have been through all of this and no doubt you have too, if you’ve had FS.

TRIGENICS AND CHIROPRACTIC TREATMENTS

At the same time, towards the first few weeks after starting PT,  I looked for alternative options.  I thought a chiropractor might be a good option, and I looked online for hours and hours (as no doubt you’ve done too, if you’ve got a frozen shoulder) and something jumped out at me:  TRIGENICS.

http://www.trigenicsinstitute.com/

Apparently a Dr. Allan Oolo Austin has a wonderful way of curing the frozen shoulder without general anesthesia.  Unfortunately his clinic is in Canada, and it seems like what he does is very much like MUA (Manipulation Under Anesthesia) except he injects possibly a local anesthetic or steroid right into your shoulder and then does the manipulation – the results looked amazing (videos on line), and I sent their offices an email immediately.  I didn’t hear back for a while and sent another email, asking all sorts of questions, and I think I got a response three or four weeks later – they apologized for not responding, but explained that they really don’t like using email so please call their offices.  Why on earth would they even have an email address on their website if they don’t want, like or respond to emails? Oh, and when they DID respond, they had sent me an email that responded to a DIFFERENT patient (that patient’s original email plus their email address was included, and it was addressed to that person).  Obviously a mistake but in my mind, quite a serious one.  I would hate for my details and private email to be sent to someone else!  So I wasn’t really impressed, not to mention disappointed that they told me they don’t like emails and to please use the phone.

By this time, I had managed to look on the Trigenics website and find a chiropractor in the Fort Lauderdale/Pompano area who practiced Trigenics himself – not to the point of doing the injection plus manipulation, but just someone who follows the practice (as well as regular chiropractic treatments), and someone I thought might be able to help me.  I am putting his name and details here because he was absolutely AMAZING!!!!!

Dr. Kenneth Arnold
2118 E Atlantic Blvd
Pompano Beach,
FL 33062
954-786-1098

His web details are extremely limited, and I emailed him but didn’t get a response (I have since found out that he never checks his emails, so make sure you call him, and don’t rely on email).  I then called his number and left a message, and he rang me the following day.  I made an appointment with him (his cell phone number is part of the voice recording if you call his office and leave a message, so don’t hesitate to call that number). I have had experience with chiropractors in the past and thought I knew what to expect, but nothing prepared me for the experience of Dr. Arnold.  He works in an office on Atlantic Boulevard and US1, and when I went to see him, I told him I was there for frozen shoulder and he told me yes, he’d treated it before, but it’s a very difficult thing to fix and treat, and all he could do was work with me and try whatever methods he could.  He said what will fix one frozen shoulder won’t fix another – it’s not like mending a broken bone – the causes of frozen shoulder are so varied, so he was completely honest with me.  He didn’t raise my expectations or promise me anything – he just said he’d try his best to help me.  He doesn’t take my insurance, but said he’d charge me $50 per session, which is what I’d been paying for physio therapy.  I was still doing PT twice a week, but thought that adding one session a week with Dr. Arnold could only help me.
All I can tell you is that this man spent two hours on me that first day, he didn’t take his eyes or hands off me, he worked harder on me than anyone has EVER worked on me – massaging, manipulating, stretching, pulling, pushing, rubbing, gently maneuvering, etc., I just could not believe the amount of effort he put into the session.  He aligned my back and neck too, general chiropractic stuff, but for the most part, everything else was customized just for me.  Yes there was pain but he didn’t believe in pushing into pain – when there was pain, he stopped.  He also has bottles and bottles of vitamins and minerals and asked at the end of the session if he could test me, see if I needed anything.  Inwardly I sighed and thought here we go, now he’s going to recommend dozens of expensive pills for me – and he did some “tests” on me to determine what I was lacking, and the only thing he suggested was omega 3 fish oil.  He said that my body is telling him that this is all I am lacking.  When I explained I had trouble swallowing large pills (I know, I’m a big baby but I really struggle taking pills), he found some tuna omega 3 fish oil, small pills, and that’s all he recommended. I asked him if I should set up a regimen with him, i.e. plan now to come three times a week etc., expecting him to try to lock me in to regular sessions.  Most chiropractors do that – lock you to two or three treatments a week for a few months – mainly to generate some income for them.  Do you know what he said?  No need for that, if you want to come see me, make an appointment and I’ll be here.  Just call.  No need to lock yourself into anything – if you want me, I’m here.

To me, that is unheard of.  He wasn’t trying to make money off me – his ONLY concern was for helping me get better, and after that first two hour session with him, the difference in how I felt was incredible.  I felt like HE REALLY CARED!  I had a LOT more motion in my arm and shoulder (when I say a lot, only a couple of inches really, but that was a HECK of a lot more than I got from the physical therapists) – and I felt like I was under the care of someone who genuinely cared for his patients and his only concern was to treat them and to help them.  I cannot speak highly enough about him.Every session I had with him was amazing – sometimes he’d only charge me $40, and sometimes I’d refuse to pay that after he’d spent two hours on me, and I’d insist on paying him $50, and even then, I felt it was too little.  If I had more money I’d have paid him double.  There was so much more going on with him, treatments and things he did, than I can go into now, but suffice it to say that without him, I don’t know how I would have gotten through all this.

I got absolutely fed up with PT.  Not only were they taking my $50 a session and barely spending time with me, but I felt they were nonchalant and too focused on their pizza and football and really not paying attention to ME.  On one occasion, when I was doing the shoulder raises using the shoulder pulley, I noticed that when I raised my arm, I tended to lean over completely with my body, to compensate, so that in fact I wasn’t lifting my arm like I thought I was, and I wasn’t making any progress, I was just twisting my torso around it.  I said to the one PT “Gosh I wish you had a mirror so I could see what I’m doing, I feel like I’m completely bent over and twisted, not straight at all, and not really doing the exercise properly.”  His response was “You really shouldn’t be that vain that you worry what you look like doing the exercise.”  I explained it was NOT vanity, but I wanted to make sure I was sitting straight up when lifting my arm, and not twisting or contorting myself to compensate for the pain and restriction of movement – I wanted to see gosh, am I really lifting my arm that high, or am I simply bending my body over?  He then said that I should be “aware of my body in space” so that I shouldn’t NEED a mirror to see if I was sitting straight up, or bending over.  I couldn’t believe what a ridiculous answer he gave me, when you have a FS you don’t necessarily know that you’re twisting yourself over – and that’s when I decided I was done with them, after spending over $1000 on their sessions.

So back to Dr. Arnold.  He was great at keeping the blood flow going, massaging the muscles and doing some stretching – he was instrumental in keeping me sane when I felt like I was going crazy with frustration, he offered so many techniques and methods of helping me, not only physically but emotionally and mentally too – when I was upset about anything, he had a technique he used that he could get to the bottom of things and often found out that what I thought I was upset about was not what I was upset about – and he was absolutely fantastic in every way.  I particularly liked his honesty in not promising he could help me but just saying he would help as best as he could – his way of not trying to gouge me for money and letting me know that he was there when I needed him – of helping me figure out what vitamins and minerals my body was lacking and ensuring that I took my Omega 3 every day and when I needed it, vitamin B12 (the only two things he found my body was missing) – he helped me so much – I was able to cry there and really let my emotions out and in a world where nobody else understood what I was going through, he was my sanctuary.  He was absolutely fantastic – always willing to fit me in whenever possible (his office hours are somewhat limited, but he is very happy to make appointments with people out of office hours, which suited me, as I knew I was the only one in his office, and the sole focus of his attentions.)  He’s a somewhat quiet man, very focused on what he does, and an extremely caring and compassionate practitioner.  As I said, after every session with him, I had a LOT more movement in my arm and shoulder, and even if it was just an inch or two – it was HUGE progress.  I wish I’d gone to see him twice a week and the PT only once a week – because I think the PT DID help a little in that it gave me an idea of the exercises, but their method of no pain no gain is totally wrong.  As Dr. Arnold said, don’t go INTO pain – if you feel you are moving into pain, stop where you are and back off…. Don’t push yourself to the point where you are in absolute agony.

NEIL ASCHER TECHNIQUE

While researching frozen shoulders more recently, I discovered another “frozen shoulder” treatment called the Niel Ascher Technique (not to be confused with Neil Asher, the science fiction writer)

http://www.frozenshoulder.com/the_niel_asher_technique.php

It caught my eye because of the specific focus and apparent success rate for frozen shoulder.   With not many certified practitioners in the area, I managed to find one in West Palm Beach, Dr. Jay Scampole, and thought I would give it a try – after all, what did I have to lose?  I was still faithfully going to Dr. Arnold and just wanted to see what other options there were.

Dr. Jay Scampole DC, LMT, FIAMA
561-674-1205

****6TH NOVEMBER 2015**** PLEASE NOTE, THANKS TO A READER AND FROZEN-SHOULDER SUFFER WHO NOTIFIED ME OF THIS, I SADLY HAVE TO INFORM YOU THAT DR. JAY SCAMPOLE IS NO LONGER PRACTICING IN WEST PALM BEACH.  I BELIEVE HE HAS RELOCATED TO ORLANDO, BUT I’M NOT EXACTLY SURE WHERE OR HOW ANYONE WOULD GET IN TOUCH WITH HIM.  IT’S A SHAME, AS I BELIEVE HE WAS A FANTASTIC HELP TO ELIZABETH (THANK YOU, E, FOR POINTING THIS OUT TO ME) AND IF ANYONE DOES KNOW HIS WHEREABOUTS AND IF HE’S STILL PRACTICING, PLEASE WILL YOU LET ME KNOW HIS UPDATED DETAILS. ******

He is a chiropractor who also practices the Neil Ascher technique.  I went to see him a couple of times – he’s a very gentle and nice man, also very caring and genuinely concerned about his patients – he himself had a frozen shoulder many years ago (so he REALLY knows what you’re going through), and fixed it by doing his own manual manipulation without any kind of steroid or anesthetic – he said it worked but it was extremely painful.  This is what made him go out and search for a better way to help frozen shoulder patients.  He tried really hard with me but was unsuccessful in making any progress (I felt a little better after each session but it didn’t last), and the second time I saw him, the days following the treatment were the most painful in a long time – I was in extreme pain all over, my body, my neck, my shoulder, my head – I could hardly move.  Something he’d done had triggered some kind of physiological response, but not a positive one, and while I really liked him and thought he tried very hard, I decided not to go and see him again.

I mention him because he has been successful with many, many patients and is definitely worth considering – this is one of his main focuses, he had apparently fixed many frozen shoulders, he lectures about it, studies it – unfortunately it just didn’t work for me.  Please note though, just because the Niel Asher technique didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for you and Dr. Jay is such a nice guy that you really don’t have much to lose by going to see him and possibly a lot to gain.  He is worth the visit.  Bear in mind though, he asks that you take an icepack with you for your journey home after treatment but doesn’t have a freezer!   I had to take my own cooler bag with the icepack, and at the end of the session, it was only just barely cold so the ice pack was not much good.  He needs to get a freezer!  Dr. Jay – if you read this – GET A FREEZER!!! PLEASE!

Dr. Jay emailed me a fantastic .pdf document about frozen shoulder exercises to do at home – don’t forget to ask him for this if you go and see him.  It’s EXCELLENT.

FOLLOWING UP WITH THE O.S.

I went back to my Orthopedic Surgeon for my follow-up visit after 6 weeks on Physical Therapy – and told him off about the Prednisone – I told him he absolutely SHOULD have warned me that there could be more serious side effects other than I might feel a little wired.  He said well a lot of people don’t suffer from side effects – and I said yes, but it’s your responsibility to TELL your patients that there are other serious side effects, including complete insomnia, weight gain, mood swings, insatiable hunger, menstrual cycle changes, and strange food cravings.  It is his duty to tell us so we are aware of what might happen – he didn’t have to list them all, just tell me that there were side effects – all he told me was that I might feel a little wired – and I find that incredibly irresponsible of him, and I told him so.  He was apologetic, but I don’t think for a second he really cared – I was just a number to him, part of his business, and not a real person that he needed to pay much attention to.  When I saw him again, I had had very little progress with the arm under physical therapy and he again offered to operate, but with my health insurance plan, I would have ended up paying $10,000 out of pocket, which was not an option.   I explained my situation and asked if there was any stand-alone clinic not connected to a hospital (then I would only have to pay the $250 copay) – but he didn’t know of one and frankly didn’t seem to care.  I don’t blame him – he probably gets a huge chunk of change for every surgery, and trying to work out how to help a patient without making a ton of money obviously isn’t on his list of priorities.

That was the last time I went to see him, and I would not recommend him to anyone.  I’m sure he’s a great O.S. but I don’t think he took more than 5 minutes each time he saw me, got me in and out as quickly as possible, and really showed no compassion or concern.  I’m just a cog in the wheel that is his business.

OTHER OPTIONS including OTZ AND HYDRODILITATION

1.  OTZ

When I was in the UK over Christmas visiting my family, I went to see my sister’s physical therapist (my sister gets cluster headaches very badly), and I thought it might be worth seeing someone, just in case she had some brilliant breakthroughs or treatment methods!  Alas she didn’t, but the manager there mentioned something called OTZ technique:

http://otzhealthed.com/

It really struck a cord with me because just from reading their website, it seemed that they had much more knowledge about FS and in my opinion, would have been worth following up with for sure.  Unfortunately, there are VERY few certified doctors/chiropractors who know this OTZ technique, and when I returned to the US in February, I had a long and informative conversation with one of them (Dr. Louis D’Amico), he informed me that really the best thing to do is see Dr. Murphy, who lives and works in Dallas.  He spoke very highly about Dr. Murphy (who developed the OTZ technique) – and if I had had the resources (time and money), maybe it would have been an option, but there were too many unknowns:   not knowing how much it would cost, or what kind of treatment would be needed, or if I would be treated and then could return home to Florida the following day, or if I would be in a lot of pain and need to rest the following day, or if I would need a succession of treatments a day apart, two days apart, a week apart etc. There were so many questions, and at the time, the south and Midwest were being hammered by terrible blizzards, making travel just about impossible – so it seemed that this was not meant to be.  I mention them again because it is an option, and MIGHT be able to help someone…. Costs are unknown – the treatment is unknown – except that they do some adjustments with the skull and the top of the spinal column/top vertebrae (or something like that) – which sounds scary but if you read up about it, the results seem amazing.  If there was a doctor in Florida, I would have found a way to see him/her, but going to Dallas just was out of the question.

2.  HYDRODILITATION

Also while in the UK I read about something called hydrodilatation (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/734006) whereby saline is injected into the shoulder, a good amount so that the whole area swells and any adhesions break apart.  I wondered why I was never given that option in the US (probably not lucrative enough, no anesthetic required, no surgery – apparently just a good radiographer is required) – but in the UK, it’s definitely a commonly offered solution.  It’s not offered on the National Health System though (as far as I could tell), but the reviews are excellent.  Somewhat curious, I spoke to a doctor who did it  (well, I spoke to his wonderful assistant) who explained that it has a great success rate, it can cost a couple of thousand pounds if you go privately, which would have been my only option (which is considerably less than surgery would cost in the US) – but the problem is that I would need several appointments with this particular doctor over a period of a couple of months – the initial consultation, then full X-Rays and MRI’s, then the actual treatment, then follow up visits with him and some physical therapy –  and as I was flying back to the US at the beginning of February, it was unfortunately not an option.  If you read up on this, you’ll see it’s commonly done in Australia, and again as I said, no doctor required, just a good radiographer (plus x-rays etc.).  It sounds so much better than the MUA, there’s no general anesthetic, recovery time is quick, you can usually leave within an hour or two, and the movement that comes back apparently is remarkable.  Do look into it if you think it might help.  I didn’t do anything about it, although if I was still struggling with FS, that would be my next step, without question – I have read so many positive things about it, and it makes a lot more sense than so many other things (like cortisone injections or surgery).  Here is another article about it, but if you research it, you’ll find a lot of information.

http://www.shoulderdoc.co.uk/article.asp?article=1257

THAWING BEGINS

Anyway, while in the UK (my parents and sister live in London), I did my shoulder pulley exercises only a handful of times over the two month period, and really, very irresponsibly just didn’t bother doing much at all to do with the Frozen Shoulder.  I had pretty much given up and decided what will be will be, forget the exercises and stretches, and just let it get on with itself.  I think this total lack of exercise was probably the best thing for me because it made a huge difference.

On a side note, when my mother had her hip assessment in the UK in December (she had her hip replaced a couple of years ago), the nurse who helped us out to our car talked to me about my frozen shoulder – and while other people have said oh, it can take YEARS to come right – she said “Mark my words, one year!  THREE, SIX THREE:  It takes three months during the freezing process, when you have the extreme pain, six months frozen, then three months thawing…. So at the 9 month stage, it will start thawing – you will see the difference.”  It’s only now that I’m looking back and thinking GOSH!  She was right!

I noticed probably in February that a lot of the popping and crackling has stopped.  It was suddenly gone – I could relax my arms and nothing happened i.e. my arm didn’t feel like it was going to jump out of its socket – the movement of the arm was still just as restricted, but the pain and feeling that it was about to be dislocated was gone.  I accidentally bumped my shoulder into the doorway – and braced for the agony – but nothing happened.  No pain – it was just like if I’d bumped my other shoulder.  I didn’t dare hope that the thawing had started, but deep down, I knew something was different, something was changing.  I occasionally did the shoulder pulley exercise, noting that my arm was going much higher (but not by itself, only when doing the exercises), and the muscles were very painful after any exercise, but it was a different kind of pain from before.  I was still struggling to pull my hand behind my back (like you do when you put your bra on).  That was still no further on.  But still – no cracking!  No popping!  No feeling of dislocation!  It was incredible….

APRIL:  9 MONTHS ALMOST TO THE DAY SINCE IT STARTED

So here we are.  It is now April (when I started writing this it was actually my birthday, to be precise and I remember thinking that I could not have had a better birthday gift than getting my shoulder back).  I had been having regular sessions with Dr. Arnold until mid December, when I flew to the UK to see my family for a couple of months but didn’t return to see him since I returned – I had just given up.

As I mentioned, since I returned to the US on 1st February, I have been very lax with my exercises.  I think maybe once every couple of weeks I did a few shoulder pulls on the pulley, a few “hand behind the back pull ups with a strap” (similar motion to when you have to put your bra on) – and that’s about it.  I pretty much gave up and figured I’d just have to learn to live with this disability. I just continued about my daily business, bending over in the shower to wash my face, turning my bra around and doing it up in the front (I had been too lazy to go out and get a front-fastening bra, but that definitely would have helped), struggling with everything else like I had for the past 9 months.

Then I SUDDENLY noticed that it was suddenly a little easier to drive.  I actually could turn the steering wheel with my left hand (without the right hand); my left arm actually had some power back.  I could actually lift it a little on its own.

Then, most unbelievably, on Tuesday night (1st April – I remember the exact date) when I took my shower, normally I had to bend over in the shower to wash my face with both hands (or else just use my right hand to wash my face) – but to my absolute amazement, without thinking, I just washed my face with both hands, standing straight up, perfectly normally, like a normal person!!!.  It was such a normal motion and I did it so naturally that I barely even noticed what had happened and it didn’t really even register (hard to believe but it didn’t).  Then later that night, when unloading the dishwasher, I reached up to a shelf that had normally been out of range – and put the dish back on there.  It really was a shocking moment, and I didn’t say anything to my husband, but I kept on reaching up to the shelf – and to the microwave (which I could NEVER reach with the bad arm).  Suddenly I could easily put a bowl in there and take it out WITH BOTH HANDS!  Unbelievable!  And with very little effort.  Yes there was muscular pain but the movement was there!
The following morning, I brushed my hair with my right hand as always, and reached back with my left hand to put my hair in a pony tail – something I tried to do regularly but was not able to do since July – and amazingly, suddenly, I could do it – I could get my left hand up to the back of my head to hold the hair while my right hand put the scrunchy on.   Granted it wasn’t exactly at the back of my head, it was a little off to the left, but it was absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to do the previous week!  While the muscles did scream a little (obviously not happy at being used again) – my arm lifted much higher than it’s gone since July – by itself – AND I PUT MY HAIR IN A PONY TAIL!!  Hard to believe what a huge achievement this was but it was absolutely MASSIVE.

I can only think that NOT doing anything, or doing very little (and almost totally not exercising while I was in the UK and since I returned) has helped more in the recovery than I can possibly imagine.

This “thawing” has happened so quickly – literally at the end of March, I was still struggling to do anything – and then on that Tuesday, 1st April, as I said, in the shower, suddenly I could wash my face.  It was almost an overnight recovery.

It’s now almost the end of April and I’d say in one month, I have regained 75% of the movement – my internal/external rotation is still terrible and needs a lot of work, but so many other things are possible now.   I can clasp my hands behind my neck (COULD NOT DO THAT LAST MONTH), I can lift my arm in front of me (not quite to vertical but still very high) – BY ITSELF!  I can lift it up on its own and rest it on the top of the door frame.  UNBELIEVABLE! This change is miraculous – and I am dumbfounded as to why this happened and the speed at which it happened.

Incredible.  Doing NOTHING has been the best thing for it, and I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t just given up in pure frustration.

I DO think that some of the basic exercises helped, and I DO think that Dr. Arnold helped tremendously with massage and his Trigenics, but I also think that in retrospect, the aggressive exercises that the physical therapists made me do were BAD for the frozen shoulder – THEY DID NOT HELP, and the “no pain no gain” attitude is extremely detrimental for anyone with frozen shoulder.  I would NOT have surgery (Manipulation under Anesthesia), nor would I see Dr. Austin and have him do it – just because I now feel that forcing it is not a good idea – I think the body will resolve it when the body is ready – it may take time, but I suppose like any injury with swelling inside, the body has to do what it has to do, and let nature take its course.

I would do the basic exercises, go for massage to keep the blood flowing in the muscular areas, and I would still go and see my wonderful Dr. Arnold regularly.

 

UPDATE:  9TH JULY 2014:  Shoulder is 95% back to normal – only thing I can’t do is undo my bra with it, although if I use my right arm to position my left arm, THEN I can undo my bra – but I can’t quite get the left arm up there by itself.  I think with some exercises and YOGA (which is highly recommended – I start that shortly, therapeutic/beginner’s yoga) it will get back to 99%.
EXERCISES

I AM NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL, ALL THESE EXERCISES ARE EXERCISES I WAS TOLD TO DO AT ONE POINT OR ANOTHER, SO PLEASE DO NOT CONSIDER THIS MEDICAL ADVISE OR ANY KIND OF QUICK CURE.  THESE ARE SIMPLY EXERCISES I DID THAT MAY OR MAY NOT HELP YOU.
1.  SHOULDER PULLEY (STRAPPED INTO CHAIR) forwards and sideways:  if you don’t strap yourself in to minimize your body movement, you’ll find you’re really pulling your whole side up (neck and shoulder and arm) instead of moving the joint within the shoulder socket.  I found it much more successful when I was strapped in so that the only thing moving was my arm (and thus the shoulder socket).

CAM02865 CAM02866 CAM02983 CAM02984

This is how I was originally doing this exercise, without being strapped in – my whole body was pulled over and I ended up with terrible back and neck strain.  Still, I couldn’t get my arm up this high until April, it was usually about a 90 degree angle or less.  In my mind, this is totally INCORRECT.

incorrect

Then my husband made a strap and you can see the difference in my posture while doing this exercise, and when I pulled my arm up, the rest of me stayed in place – only my shoulder joint moved.

correct2 correct3 correctposture strap_correct

I bought the pulley off the internet and my husband made a velcro strap to put my left wrist into, because I started pulling hard on my thumb and injuring it.  Once the wrist strap was in place, it was amazing – my left hand suffered no more pain from pulling on fingers and thumb.  Again, if you want this wrist strap, I can get my husband to make one for you at his factory, $10 including shipping to contiguous USA.  I’m not trying to sell these, or make a profit or anything – this is what it costs him to get them made, labor plus materials, all I want to do is let you know that if you want one, he can get it made in his factory.  It helped me TREMENDOUSLY.  The long strap with the buckle that straps me into the chair prevents any sideways movement, and meant that any movement in the arm being pulled up was actually being done IN the shoulder socket.  Otherwise my whole body was being pulled over sideways.  Again, $10 including shipping if you want one.  Easy enough to make at home – just need a long strap and sew in some sort of buckle or clip, just anything that keeps you still and keeps your shoulder still so that any movement in the shoulder joint is kept localized.

The first pic is how the pulley works (this is my good arm) – it’s easy to use, but for your bad arm (arm with your frozen shoulder), if you are using it like this, you can end up straining the joints in your wrist and fingers and my thumb somehow ended up really feeling painful.  You can see with the wrist strap, the entire wrist and hand is supported, making it easy to pull up and down.

wrist1 wrist2 wriststrap

2.  STRAP WITH LOOPS arm behind back (Shoulder internal rotation with towel) :  the Physical Therapists told me to use a towel, with my right arm (good arm), hold a towel from over my shoulder down my back, and then to reach back with my bad arm and grasp it, and then with my good arm, pull that towel up and down so as to increase the movement of the bad arm.  I did this for a while but started really pulling my thumb out of its socket, so my husband made this strap with a loop on each end – all I do is put the hand on the bad arm in it, and let it rest, and then it is pulled easily up and down.  If you want one of these straps, which I absolutely SWEAR by, let me know, I can get my husband to make one in his factory for you, $10 including shipping to the USA – it absolutely saved me and while a towel does work, I found that grasping and holding onto it with my left hand started injuring the left hand and thumb.  By simply placing the whole wrist into the loop, it stopped any injuries to the left hand!

backstrap

CAM02985

3. PENDULUM (if you research “Pendulum exercise” on the internet you’ll find tons of information about this).  I tried to do this regularly but found it most uncomfortable, especially when I was doing it correctly – there was clicking and weird sensations and sometimes pain and I just hated it – but I think it is still a good exercise to get the full circular rotation going in the shoulder.

4. ARM ON TABLE (where you push your arm along a table, first to the side, and then in front of you) – it’s hard to explain so look at “frozen shoulder exercises, arm on table”, for example.

5. BROOM HANDLE:  I was told to lie on the bed holding a broom horizontally in front of me and lift that over my head as far as I could.   Then try to push it down over my head onto the bed.   All this did was cause excruciating pain.  Maybe it helped, maybe it didn’t, all I know was that it was very painful and movement was extremely limited – I tried to push down with my good arm, stretching the bad shoulder as much as possible – and it was agony.  I mention it because it may help you, it may not – try it and see.  If you don’t like it, don’t do it.  There is also one with the broom (or walking stick) that you push the arms from side to side – have a look at the attached .pdf files and you’ll see how they’re done.

6. FLEX SHOULDERS

7. CLASP HANDS BEHIND HEAD (impossible to do back then but now I can do it).

SOURCES OF EXERCISES

I have researched exercises for hours and hours on the internet, watched hundreds of youtube videos, and no doubt you will have done the same.  The internet can be such a great source of help!  Here are some things I found out that may help….
http://www.woyoso.org/Frozen-Shoulder-Exercises.html

The one below is listed on the Sheffield Trust website, part of the NHS (National Health Service) in the UK.  It is a .pdf file.  If you cannot read it, let me know and I can email you my copy.  Again, I’m not saying this worked better than anything else, it just has a list of exercises recommended by the NHS for people with a frozen shoulder.

Frozen shoulder exercises NHS

Here is another great sheet of exercises for you to choose from, with pictures (vey helpful):

Frozen Shoulder Exercises_kaiserPermanente_tcm28-180808

THE MOST HELPFUL THING OF ALL WITH THE EXERCISES WAS WHEN THE BAD ARM WAS BEING LIFTED UP AND DOWN (by the pulley, for example) ALWAYS TRY TO ENGAGE THE MUSCLES.  In other words, if you’re doing the shoulder pulley, when you have pulled your bad arm as high as it will go, instead of just letting it drop limply and slowly (all exercises should always be done slowly) ENGAGE THE MUSCLES.  Use your other arm to hold onto the pulley (create resistance) so that you have to really use your bad arm and engage those muscles to bring it down.  Tensing it up in the first few months hurt terribly and I heard and felt all kinds of pops and grinding and clicks and muscle cramps – but I got better results tensing the muscles and engaging them than if I just let it go down slowly and limply.  I must admit that often I could not engage the muscles because of all the weird sensations and it was much easier for me just to let the arm go limply down – but the more I engaged the muscles, the more I knew it was a good thing. 

This works for all exercises – when Dr. Arnold would help me lift my arms by standing in front of me, I would lean on his arms and push up (he would resist me, making me use quite a lot of effort) and then when I got as high as I could, instead of just letting the arms go down limply and leaning on him, he again resisted me so that I was PUSHING (engaging my muscles).  I truly think this was KEY because when I was on my own doing shoulder pulls, if I didn’t engage the muscles, then I would continue with the same range of motion – the minute I engaged the muscles and had to PUSH my arm down or up – the next time I did that movement, I went further!

When I was doing any other exercises or stretching, if I got to the point that I could not raise or move my bad arm any further, Dr. Arnold would ask me to push down in the opposite direction, so I’d engage the muscles and really push on him, and then he’d say ok relax, and then the arm could then go further back than it had before, in the original direction, simply because of engaging the muscles. 

I really really hope this has helped a little, at least you know you’re not alone, there are lot of options, tons of articles and videos on the internet dedicated to people with frozen shoulder/adhesive capsulitis, and there are a lot of people who have had it or have it now.  You are not alone.  If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at

afriendlyshoulder at gee mail dot com

GOOD LUCK AND HANG IN THERE – IT WILL GET BETTER!  If you want any of the straps that my husband made for me, let me know.  He owns a marine canvas and upholstery factory in Miami and can get them made for you and I can ship them.  Alternatively, look at the pictures and you can probably make them easily yourself – I know there are lots of arts and crafts stores that sell velcro and straps and things – I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THE USE OF THESE STRAPS AND WRIST BANDS when doing exercises.  The last thing you want is to be struggling to hold onto a pulley and then injuring your thumb or fingers.

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94 thoughts on “My frozen shoulder experience

  1. Alayna ashby

    Thank you so much for your personal experience and to all the people who posted here. It has been a great help to me. I am three months into a frozen shoulder and this has given me many more options and hope.

    Reply
  2. Kelly Waldeck

    I too had a frozen shoulder (Left side) it lasted two years. Now it’s beginning in my right shoulder. I am recognising the symptoms, and am already in tears anticipating what is to come. Already I’ve started sleeping in certain positions and using a pillow to prop it up in the night.
    It’s soooo unfair. I am right handed so am worried I will be more limited than last time 😔

    Reply

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