Well, here I am again. Writing medical blog No. 4, from a patients perspective. Seems to be my speciality these days.
Talking about symptoms… they keep changing. It just adds to the mystery of a frozen shoulder, also called adhesive capsulitis.
I have made extensive research and what I read over and over is, how little really is known about frozen shoulders in the medical world. Nobody knows for sure where they come from, why they form, why it takes such a long time to recover from and why they disappear again as gradually as they showed up in the first place. Sounds interesting but also challenging.
Depending on the day and also what I did, I can either feel a warm, tingling sensation in my shoulder, a pins and needles sensation down the arm or just various stages of aching, sometimes just the shoulder, other times the back of it or even aching down the biceps with radiating pain.
The radiating pain I usually get at night as payback for something I did earlier in the day.
The pattern is always the same. I am fine till I do a move outside my momentary range of motion, pay for it IMMEDIATELY with so called “zingers” (a very intense pain that brings you down to your knees), soreness afterwards, followed by a miserable night.
I am still a bit confused about the stages. Depending on the article I read, there are either three or four stages and the length of each stage varies quite a bit. Not just from article to article but from person to person.
I assume I am in the “freezing” stage right now, but I am not sure. This is what I found online…
Symptoms are usually classified in three stages, as they worsen gradually and then resolve within a 2- to 3-year period.
The AAOS describe three stages:
- Freezing, or painful stage: Pain increases gradually, making shoulder motion harder and harder. Pain tends to be worse at night. This stage can last from 6 weeks to 9 months.
- Frozen: Pain does not worsen, and it may decrease at this stage. The shoulder remains stiff. It can last from 4 to 6 months, and movement may be restricted.
- Thawing: Movement gets easier and may eventually return to normal. Pain may fade but occasionally recur. This takes between 6 months and 2 years.
Over 90 percent of people find that with simple exercises and pain control, symptoms improve. A frozen shoulder normally recovers, but it can take 3 years.
Other movements that are restricted right now are:
- opening up a bra
- getting into a jacket
- lifting my arm above my head
- trying to reach for something that is out of reach
- certain sports with overhead motions like tennis (serve, overhead, high volley – impossible to do)
- slipping into a backpack
- Laying in bed with my hand next to my head like this…
There are also many different theories out there about treatment of FSS (frozen shoulder syndrome).
Some suggest to not do anything, let nature take its course and just wait it out. Others swear by doing PT or giving steroid injections in the shoulder. Many different opinions on the subject.
I guess in the end I have to listen to my OS. He will recommend what he thinks is best for me and I trust his opinion. He has guided me through three different surgeries already and I always got great results by listening to instructions and following his protocols.
The more I read about the disorder, honestly the less I like it. I really don’t know what to expect, how severe it will get and how long it’s going to take. I guess I just have to go with the flow.