August 10, 2016

My Frozen Shoulder - Kvetch and Solutions?

At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old lady, I thought to share my woeful story of my frozen shoulder - mainly since I too have been searching online for various solutions. 

So, way back in April was when I first posted about my shoulder problem. And now it's August and guess what? Physiotherapy might help - but only partially. 

The progression:

Soon after we moved to our new house, (which I why I ignored the pain for a while), at the end of February, the problem began - 

  • with a growing pain in my shoulder, which turned into 
  • excruciating pain jabs whenever I moved my arm suddenly or stretched it too far, 
  • became a throbbing constant pain as well as an inability to sleep at night because of the pain, 
  • and then a dull ache, 
  • and finally now it's something I'm not happy about, but getting used to. (I'm hopeful that this is the beginning of what is known as the Thaw stage !)

The doctors visits:

Let me start by saying that doctors in the Netherlands only really treat you if you are bleeding (to death). Otherwise it's 'um hm, yes, um hum [cough, hypochondriac], I see, well, take these paracetamols...'

I must have visited my doctors at least three times. Each time, she tested the range of motion and nodded, saying, "It sometimes happens to women at your age. I'm sorry but there's not much to do and it will take 6 months to a year to get better."

The medication:

I started off with Paracetamol - here they have Panadol - nicely coated and in an easy to swallow capsule shape. According to the box, I could take 4 pill of 500 mg per day. So I took one at night, and again, in the early hours of the morning (4 a.m yawn) - for a pretty long time.

After my 2nd doctors appointment, after another exhausted night without sleep, the doc said I could easily have 2 paracetamols X 4! And if I took it day and night, there was a good chance I could sleep longer as it would stay in my blood stream. Truth is - I didn't really notice much of a difference. 

She did suggest Naproxen, as that lasts longer - but I had had bleeding stools the year before (sorry for the full bloody disclosure) when I broke my rib, so I was trying to avoid medicines that might upset my stomach.
Last month (July) I decided to go for the Naproxen! Yes, blessed sleep - at least until 5 a.m or sometimes 6. But, still, achy all night and yes, slightly constipated...

Sleep positions:

These past months, I have been unable to find a restful position - sleeping on my regular right side is a 'no go' area as that's where the pain point hurts the most and sleeping on my back was something I wasn't used to, but also the way the gravity pulled on my shoulder was unpleasant and uncomfortable, until I figured out the trick of placing my hand on an extra pillow on my tummy. Another option was to sleep on my left side, but again, the arm position was very tricky. I needed to hold the pillow next to me, and gently drape my arm over it as I sleep. 

Do you know that the human sleep rhythm is a cyclical one? Meaning that every 90 minutes or so, we wake up slightly, shift slightly and return to sleep? Yup, and each time, adjusting my pillow, or taking a pill, moaning softly as I go. 

You can imagine that I am rather irritable these days. 


1. Regular physiotherapy by the sweet young guy at the gym.
2. Aryuvedic physiotherapy by Shibu Thomas - great vigorous deep tissue oil massage which seems to help but also hurts.
3. Six acupuncture treatments by Zohar Steg. Really helped me destress - and relax - but reduced the pain only by a small amount.

Where am I now?

Feb, March, April, May, June, July, August - here we are! Mobility is maybe a tiny bit better (I'm such an optimist), but I cannot, under any circumstances, fasten my bra by myself in the back. Pain: No longer throbbing, no longer jabbing. Just the same pinched nerve feeling and more or less constant ache. Scale of one to ten? (1: no pain, 10: giving birth). I'd say it's a constant 6 and at night 7?

Added symptoms: 

  • Shoulder muscles are bunched up and tight. 
  • Arm and hand on right side are easily tired and it's hard to type, write, and even use my cell phone for too long. 
  • And there's a sort of hard-to-swallow feeling in my throat for a few days now that made me intuitively feel that my digestive system cannot stomach any more pain pills.

New medication: 

Super Flex from the vitamin store where a very nice sales lady, who seemed a lot more knowledgable than my doctor, and had a similar condition, told me to take 3 pills a day, for 10 days and that this would reduce inflammation and pain and if I also stretch my arm a lot, it will get better! 
I'm on my 2nd day - after the first day (2 pills), I slept without any pain medication, just with my pillow! And while I did wake up at 3:00 a.m, was able to fall asleep again and slept until 8:00 a.m.!!
I am hopeful!!!

My sister:

Sadly, though we live in different countries, my sister has contracted the same frozen shoulder as mine. She is trying out her own doctor's recommendation, which is something called: Arcoxia 90 mg. One a day! So, since she just started her medication 2 days ago, we are in a race now to see who can get better first! Personally, I hope both meds work, as this is one race where we should all win. 

Reader's call for help!

If you know of any good treatments for frozen shoulder - please post below in the comments! The semester is going to begin in less than a month and I have to get myself into shape! Thanks!

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