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What is a frozen shoulder, please?

By August 24, 2009 - 12:56am
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retired from 45 years office work, 5 years ago and left shoulder was solid. Began housecleaning part time 2 mornings a week last October and shoulder has loosened somewhat. Work with a friend and she vacuums most of the time. Vacuumed myself while she was away, last week - shoulder is very painful and pain has gone into my neck, head, and lumbar region. Should say have always had neck problem and have carpel tunnel. 2 lots of injections for carpel tunnel have helped, but pins and needles still felt in right hand occasionally which doc says is probably coming from neck - left arm and hand ache with pain from left shoulder. Over many years when working, visited Osteopaths, and Chiropractors, lots of back, shoulders and neck massages. Since retirement have reduced visits somewhat - pretty expensive! Left shoulder big problem at present. Thank you.

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Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Hi Carolyn - Just checking in to see how you're doing now. I had a frozen shoulder once and it took several months to feel better, as well as icing and physical therapy, including a lot of exercises with a stretchy band. Please let us know if the exercises and icing helped you. We hope you're on the mend and and feeling better.

October 2, 2009 - 5:17pm

Hi, Carolyn:

A few years ago, I tore my rotator cuff doing an ice skating movement. It was not fun. While an injury caused my condition, the treatment might be helpful to you, as well. My treatment included stretches with a Pilates resistance band to improve my range of motion and strengthen the muscles in my shoulder. I also regularly iced my shoulder to keep down any inflammation and swelling.

Did any of your healthcare providers suggest any sort of self-therapy you could do at home?

August 24, 2009 - 5:28pm
(reply to alysiak)

Thanks you Alysiak Iinteresting name - I like it) - I do have a stretchy band which a physiotherapist gave me with a couple of exercises and I have been icing it too. So looks as if I'm on the right track, but do appreciate being able to share it with you. Appreciate you contacting me, it's good to talk.
Best wishes, Carolyn

August 25, 2009 - 3:14am

Frozen shoulder happens when a "capsule" of tissue around the shoulder joint tightens up and makes movement painful and difficult. You might want to check out the Mayo Clinic's info on the condition here:


I had a frozen shoulder once, not a very pleasant experience. The pain seemed to increase over time, to the point where I would wake in the middle of the night in tears. My doctor told me it would resolve itself eventually, but I couldn't wait. I had what's called a "closed manipulation," where he anesthetized me and essentially moved my arm to free up the shoulder. After a couple days recovery it was much better.

Good luck.

August 24, 2009 - 4:51pm
(reply to Cathy Enns)

Thank you, Cathy; I'll contact the mayclinic. Was it your GP who anethetised and freed up your shoulder? I have had injections for the carpet tunnel which helped tremendously so maybe that should be my next step for the shoulder. Thanks for responding. Best wishes, Carolyn

August 25, 2009 - 3:11am
(reply to carolyn goucher)

Hi Carolyn: It was an orthopedic surgeon/sports medicine specialist who fixed me up. If I remember right I had to have IV sedation to enable him to manipulate the shoulder completely, or it could have been a quick general anesthesia. In any case, he didn't use local anesthesia.

If the pain isn't unbearable, you may want to take Alysia's advice and try less invasive approaches and see if there's some improvement. A closed manipulation seems to be recommended as a last resort (and maybe if your insurance will cover it!). In my case, the pain was extreme and getting worse--so I went for it.

I would consult an orthopedic surgeon who has experience with frozen shoulders. I have been to several orthopedic surgeons over the years, and never had one push me to do the most invasive procedure first. Find one in your area with a good track record by researching on the Internet.

Best of luck!


August 25, 2009 - 9:03am
(reply to Cathy Enns)

Thanks again, Cathy - I live in England and am blessed to have treatment on NHS. Have seen a doc for carpel tunnel and neck and he examined my shoulder. Said it's not in need of surgery but I hurt it working after he signed me off!! Visited my GP who has given me Ibuprofen and we need to let is calm down before taking any further steps if necessary. I would like to get it sorted once and for all though. Seeing chiropractor tomorrow for neck which could help and taking Alyskia's advice with icing and rest.

It's good to know you are out there. Thank you so much, Carolyn

August 26, 2009 - 12:57am
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