Frozen shoulder – my 5 tips for a full recovery Most Liked Hot Conversation

Today’s Featured Comment

From BAnn

I had frozen shoulder for 1 ½ years before recovering fully from it, so please be patient.

The recovery process can take anywhere from 3 months to 2 years, and for me the hardest part was the frustration of not healing quickly since I was so diligent about attending physical therapy and doing my assigned exercises at home.  I compared myself with everyone else who told me that they recovered in only a few months, which was natural to do but very depressing.

The cause of a frozen shoulder condition cannot always be diagnosed, although it can occur through injury or repetitive motion.  And to set your mind at ease, it very rarely occurs more than once to someone.

My recommendations would be to:

1) learn more about your condition by asking your health professionals (who, if they are good, should be offering explanations and reports on your progress) and doing research on the internet from reliable medical websites,

2) find the best orthopedist and physical therapist you can, and if you get limited results get a second opinion,

3) limit the amount of cortisone shots you receive (no more than three) because it can do permanent damage to your joints,

4) only consider surgery as a last result- if your orthopedist recommends otherwise, he is not someone you want to treat you, and

5) find a way of decreasing stress because it definitely has a negative impact on the healing process- I know this firsthand.

For me, having frozen shoulder was a terrible experience: progress is so slow that often you can’t even see it, the limited mobility and use of one arm is incredibly frustrating and time-consuming, and you get upset because you feel like it should be a minor injury and yet you aren’t healing rapidly.  But, through diligence in finding the right doctor and the most incredible physical therapist, I finally recovered fully.

Good luck!

[This comment was originally posted in this conversation. ~ Eds.]

Have you had frozen shoulder? What would you advise a friend in recovery?

12 like

Posted in health & fitness, other topics, VN Featured Comment.

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12 Responses

  1. Spirit seeker Spirit seeker says

    As a professional Massage Therapist – with over 20 years experience – To aide in a faster recovery from this condition I highly recommend Structural Integration Modalities, Active Isolated Stretching, Myofascial Work, Jin Shin Jyutsu, and Acupuncture. Any one of these modalities works very effectively for problems of this sort, without the need for harmful Cortisone injections (which will destroy your joints over time). Traumeel is available & highly effective as an injectable treatment, which will not cause damage in the body.

    6 like

    • Generic Image nedj says

      I have fought this for years.  Finally, after being told I would be on Predisone for the rest of my life, I looked into alternative medicine.  After 5 treatments of acupunture, I have use of my shoulders again.  If I overdue, a naproxen helps.  Treatments now are monthly and I am so happy to be rid of the drugs!

      4 like

  2. Generic Image RamblinRedhead says

    I am in the middle of this exact situation, but I will be taking the other side.  I injured my shoulder and hip in early March – fell from a ladder, about 8 feet.  Physical therapy got me back on my feet and walking, and the hip has fully recovered.  I worked hard, and it all paid off.

    The shoulder, not so much. Despite doing concurrent PT on the shoulder, it was never as effective.  Looking back, and knowing what I know now about PT, they had me doing a lot of strength-building, isometric type stuff, and not enough range of motion type exercises.  So, after a while of them making me do reps with increasing weights, slapping ice on it, and then sending me home to not sleep that night, I quit going.  The PT I got was not well thought out, nor was it appropriate for my shoulder, apprently.  I had different therapists, they would often change in the middle of my session, and not know what I had already done.  So, despite trying to be tough about it, and keep it moving, I have lost range of motion since then – quite a lot.  My muscles are fine.  I just can’t move my arm up, or to the side, the joint does not work, and it’s more than just the pain now.

    I tried accupuncture, and got excellent pain relief – but no improvement in my ability to move the joint.  After meeting with the best “shoulder guy” in my area, I had the option to do an MRI, do the cortisone and reenter PT, or have arthroscopic surgery.

    I am scheduled for the arthroscopic surgery tomorrow morning, and I am not doing it as a last resort.  I think it makes the most sense.  Whether I have an undetected rotator cuff tear, or “frozen shoulder”, the Dr. has outlined what he will do to correct each one, when he gets in there and gets a positive diagnosis.

    It will not be easy.  I have to go right from outpatient surgery to PT, where I will be forced to get that joint moving again.  However, the adhesions and any possible bone spurs, or sticky spots, as well as a hereditary curvature of my shoulder blade that probably contributes to my problems, will be corrected.  Needless to say, I am going to a different PT facility this time around, and researched them more thoroughly this time around.  I will try to cooperate with my therapist completely, but I will not be so meek and docile, if I am not getting the appropriate treatment, or seeing some progress.  For good or bad, I will be more actively participating this time around, because I want to have my arm back, and I think this is the best, most logical way to do it.

    The surgeon absoluteley did not push this as my only option.  He did not counsel against it, either.  He just laid out the pros and cons, and I made the choice that seemed best for me.

    I don’t think tomorrow afternoon would be a good time for me to give an objective opinion on whether the surgery was a good choice – I may be pretty miserable.  I do, however, promise to look for this topic, and post my results after I’ve had a chance to recover a little.  Right now, my shoulder is a continuous, low-intensity dull ache.  Tomorrow, I’m sure it will be off the charts for a while – though maybe they’ll give me some of “The Good Stuff” to get me through that first therapy session.  Then, I hope in the long run, to get back much of the ability I’ve lost.  I guess only time will tell.

    I think the initial post is just a little on the negative side about surgical options, and I think there’s a time and a place for them.  Reading that earlier this week, I started to have serious second thoughts, but have come back around to believeing I am doing the right and best thing for my situation.  I’ll let you know how it works out…. 

    3 like

    • Generic Image Sherie Bumgarner says

      Best of luck on your procedure.  I had rotator cuff surgery 3 months ago.  It’s been a very rough 3 months.  My husband has had both rotator cuff surgery and total knee replacement.  He says the rotator surgery is by far the worst.  My shoulder is better now but it has taken what seems like forever to get to this point.  Just don’t get discouraged.  And taking a week off from PT (vacation) did not set me back.  In fact I think it helped. So don’t feel guilty if you take a break.  Also, take those pain meds before you go to PT.  About an hour before is good.  And be patient!

      0 like

  3. Spirit seeker Spirit seeker says

    Sometimes surgery is the only possible option – especially in the case of a torn muscle, which has to be reattached.  If anyone has been through an injury, especially if they’ve heard a “pop”  and then can’t use the arm, they really should consult with a sports medicine doctor.  They deal with injuries of that sort all the time & will generally be able to do a laproscopic repair.  That entails making 3 tiny incisions – one front & back & one through the bicep area.  

    There will be a need for PT work afterward. I still stick by the modalities of Active Isolated Stretching, Active Release Therapy, and Myofascial Release or Rossiter work, as a few of the main types of bodywork modalities as being highly effective options to try in the case of standard Frozen Shoulder problems.

    2 like

  4. revangelica revangelica says

    After seeing my chiropractor for about 3 months, he recommended seeing a doctor .. “perhaps you need surgery.”  Instead, I followed what my intuition had been telling me and opened the phone book to find a Traditional Chinese Medicine Dr.  I found a wonderful woman, who when I walked in her office and described my situation,  smiled and said “Ah 50 year old shoulder – you should have come to me right away.”  After 3 months of acupuncture treatments, I had full mobility!

    4 like

  5. MrsB MrsB says

    On Jan 3rd, 2011, I fell and smashed my head into the wall (after the cat knocked a box into my path). I also crashed my knees into the floor and suffered a shoulder separation. I didn’t make much of the fractured line in my head or the pain in my shoulder (it was the first day of the winter term at college and I didn’t want to miss classes) and didn’t go to the doctor until 3 weeks later, when I felt something wasn’t right. The doctor had ex-rays showing that my shoulder had separated, and suggested that I wear a sling. I am right handed, this injury was on my right shoulder and there was no way I could leave my arm immobile long enough to wear a sling. I had a household to run and as a single parent, everything needing to be done in running a household and going to school, was on me.  Of course, I was prescribe useless pain meds (500 mg Nabumetone) that did nothing for me. About a week later I went in and had a cortisone shot, which was also ineffective. Here it is June 25, 2012 and I still have some pain in that shoulder. However, I did find that a warm heating pad has helped to take away immediate pain, and I am fully aware of not straining the shoulder area. I do gentle weight lifting (3lb weights) on both sides to build up strength and mobility in that area. I find that gentle exercise to build up strength and mobility to be the most helpful of all possible resolutions and that’s where I concentrate my efforts. Be gentle with your body as you heal and never allow anyone to rush you along. My teen is notorious for being in a rush and hates that I am moving slowly for now. Tough beans, I say. I’m not in any hurry to further damage my body. Aging gracefully is what I envision.

    1 like

  6. fischerpat fischerpat says

    I suffered with frozen shoulder through a couple of months of PT with little improvement.  I had been seeing my acupuncturist, who one day said she was going to attack it with a vengeance.  It was my right shoulder…she inserted a needle into my left calf and twisted for maybe two minutes.  It was more painful than regular needles.  After that we did a regular session and put a heat lamp on it.  The next morning it was gone.  I’m sure not everyone would have this experience, and she was an amazing healer, but it’s definitely worth a try!

    0 like

  7. Georgia Georgia says

    I used crutches after a knee injury – for about a week! It damaged my left shoulder and I’ve spent the past 1-1/2 yrs trying to make it better. Two injections – 9 months apart. But the main thing, I believe, and if you are a woman!, is don’t use it so much. I have a very hard time remembering until I do something to cause sudden pain in it. You SHOULD do exercises as suggested by a physiatrist or PT person. But all the chores and normal movements need to be moderated. I have about 90% back now. As long as I remember all this.

    1 like

  8. Generic Image Silver Sadie says

    I suffered a frozen shoulder after a motor vehicle accident where I tore a shoulder ligament & tendon.  My ortho doc has diagnosed me with impingement & frozen shoulder.  I have gone to 22 physio treatments in the past year and had two cortisone shots.    My shoulder is less painful but I don’t have the same range of motion (ROM) I used to have before the accident.  Am wondering what my chances are of full recovery.

    0 like

  9. Renee Alter Renee Alter says

    I had a frozen shoulder for about a year. It was painful to move my arm in most directions. Physical Therapy did not help at all. What finally DID help was listening to Theta Healing sounds for 20 minutes. A couple of days later, I discovered I had most of the use of my arm back!

    1 like

  10. Generic Image Donna Wickham says

    I love the advice provided and like everyone else the progress is so painstakingly slow it is difficult and caused me to seek out many solutions. I found that over the progression different things worked at different times. there isn’t a single or best path to follow. Listen to your body and you will really have to tune it.  What I didn’t understand was the pain. There was never a moment I didn’t experience pain during both the freezing and frozen stages. I had an ongoing ache, sharp shooting pains and pain associated with any kind of use. Sleeping was difficult, dressing was difficult, all activities of daily life were difficult. After 18 months I finally accepted my physical therapist’s advice and returned to my orthopedic surgeon and got the adhesion release surgery in July 2014. I tried massage, cortisone shots, acupuncture, yoga, Pilates, meditation, much pain medication to the extent I worried about developing ulcers, anit-inflammatory diet, ice, heat, rest, and ignoring it at different times. I finally sought out the surgery because my physical therapist said that my body was learning to live without my shoulder and if I didn’t thaw or return it to some use I was at risk for my body really not recovering fully when it thawed – he was right.  I saw my orthopedic surgeon who re-examined my shoulder and said there was no evidence I would thaw. He performed the surgery and he confirmed my shoulder was like leather and wouldn’t/couldn’t have thawed. During this journey  I learned was empathy for those who live with pain, patience/acceptance for not being able to change, regardless of what I did.  I am 6-7 months out and still have pain, but with Yoga and Pilates I have about 90% range of motion.  I still am very weak, but I will get there.  I am not doing PT because my PT said I knew all of the exercises and when I get to certain milestones to call him and he will see me for next steps. a Frozen shoulder is definitely a marathon not a race be gentle with yourself.

    2 like

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