Living With A Frozen Shoulder or Adhesive Capsulitis

26 04 2017

If you are suffering from this ailment and have found your way to my page, then you have my deepest and sincerest sympathies for what you are currently experiencing.

You are probably reading this at 3am, in the dark while everyone else is sleeping soundly, dry salty tear tracks on your cheeks, empty pill packets surrounding you, desperately Googling and YouTubing EVERYTHING related to a frozen shoulder.  Seeking ANYTHING, just ONE THING, that will help ease your suffering.  At least that’s the place I was when I decided to start journaling my frozen shoulder experience.

It is officially 14 months ago that I entered Stage 1:  The Slow Freeze.  I entered Stage 2:  Frozen Rock Fucking Solid and in Constant Agony in June 2016 and now (thankfully) I appear to be in Stage 3:  The Big Thaw.

As to how this all came about, I’m not entirely sure.  I did not injure my shoulder, nor did I have an operation, and I am only 41 years old (still young by my standards at least!).  But I am an English Teacher and I suspect that hours spent sitting in the same position marking copious written assessments, essays, short stories, and typing emails, correspondence and lesson plans has been a significant contributing factor – add to that an enormous amount of stress that I was experiencing at the time of onset, and that’s what I think did it.

It was following a big weekend of marking that I got into my car for work and noticed my first symptom.  Reaching back for my seatbelt, I got a pinching sensation down the underside of my right arm.  Thinking it was just the usual repetitive stress injury that I’d been managing for all my years as a teacher, I ignored it.  Until two weeks later.  It was still there and I had lost a noticeable range of motion in my right shoulder.

This was when I visited my first physiotherapist.  Since then I have seen two other physiotherapists, four doctors, an acupuncturist, a radiologist, a sonographer, a homeopath, a Chinese masseuse, two reiki specialists and a Bowen therapist.  Yes, it has cost me a substantial amount of money!

In our world of advanced technology and medical knowledge, I was stunned to be told again and again:  “There is nothing we can do.  It will fix itself.  You just have to wait.”

And how long might that take?   “Six months to three years, worst case scenario of course.”

So.  Here I am, 14 months later and below is everything I’ve tried to cure my shoulder or at least ease the pain.  Some of it I read online in those dark, sad mornings on my couch – thank god the Olympics were on the telly – and some of it I stumbled across myself.

Some of these remedies made me laugh, some made me cry and, sadly, very few actually helped.

The bad news is…and you need to hear this now before you spend the next 30 minutes desperately waiting for the cure…..nothing FIXED my shoulder.  And as you can see from the list, I tried a LOT!   In saying that, there were a few things that have helped me manage it.

Reading this, if you are absolutely at your wit’s end, desperate, exhausted and simply want an answer – then jump to the subheadings HEAT PACK, FISIOCREM, PILLOW, 701 PLASTERS and BOWEN THERAPY.  These have been my saving graces over the last 14 months.

 

THE REMEDIES I HAVE TRIED – in the order that I discovered and needed them 

HEAT PACK – I picked one of these up at my local Red Dot shop (a bargain store in Australia) for $9.95 and I have used it endlessly over the last 14 months.  Heat has been a constant source of relief for me.  This pink spotted horseshoe was the first thing into the microwave at 1am, 2am, 3am – whatever ludicrous hour it was – and would dull the pain enough for me to get back to sleep…if only for a little while.

Heat Pack – just 1 minute 45 seconds in the microwave.

PHYSIOTHERAPY – I tried this during Stage 1 and it was a frustrating experience.  Despite going once or twice a week for about 3 months, my range of movement did not improve and the pain continued to worsen.  I stopped once I reached $2,500.00 and I had used up my medical insurance.  HOWEVER, once I stopped, I lost significantly more movement.  I went on holiday to Europe during this time and after 6 weeks things were much worse.  This could be because I had reached Stage 2 but reflecting now, I wonder if I had continued with the physio, would my shoulder have deteriorated?  In saying that – it was also going to cost me a bloody fortune in medical expenses pursuing this form of treatment for potentially 3 years (worst case scenario of course).

ACCUPUNCTURE – this was good for instant release.  The trigger points targeted around my shoulder joint always felt more relaxed after a few needles had been inserted and twisted – a hideous feeling!  But the relief was always short-lived and by morning the next day I was back to square one.

FISIOCREM – A cream containing arnica, hypericum, calendula and melaleuca.  This cream is excellent and certainly helps ease the pain and throbbing in Stages 1 and 2, and I still use it during Stage 3 when my shoulder is feeling a bit niggly.  During Stage 2 I put it on every night before going to bed and it did offer some respite while I was trying to get to sleep.  Unfortunately, the pain would wake me during the night again so while sipping Milo and watching the Olympics I would rub some more in.  I have used this consistently in the evenings over the last 14 months.

Fisiocrem – costs about $30-40 at the local chemist.

NUROFEN/IBUPROFEN  – Meh.  These helped with the pain sometimes during Stage 1, but I found that I was downing so many of these little white pills that they began to irritate my stomach terribly.   Which then led to PANTOPRAZOLE (a small diamond-shaped gut calming pill).  As long as I was taking this, then I could keep taking the Nurofen regularly. While it helped ease the pain a little during the day, it did nothing to prevent those white-hot lightning shots of pain that woke me during the night.  You know what I’m talking about.  The kind that makes you think Beelzebub is standing over you driving his fiery pitchfork deep into your shoulder.  At least that’s what it felt like to me!

CELEBREX – This was another anti-inflammatory and it was supposed to be a bit more effective than Nurofen.  It wasn’t.  I took one of these morning and night.  After taking it for 3 months, it didn’t seem to be having any impact and I still had to take paracetamol on top of that to help with the pain.  Only meant for short-term use, I stopped taking it after about 5 months due to the potential side effects and it wasn’t really helping anyway.

PARACETAMOL + CODEINE – I found that paracetamol with codeine was more effective than just plain paracetamol and the Nurofen.  Initially, I responded with a warm fuzzy feeling to the added codeine which I found a little too nice!   Since codeine is addictive, and highly sought after for mixing with other illegal substances (so I hear), we have to show our driver’s licence each time we purchase it in Australia – our purchasing frequency being monitored by….well… someone I guess.

During Stage 1, codeine was helping me to manage the pain but that warm fuzzy feeling I had come to enjoy slowly disappeared, and by Stage 2 I had a named chair in the waiting room at my local pharmacy.  I was tripping back and forth to the chemist every week, flashing my driver’s licence, answering questions about what I wanted it for, getting a stern pursed lip from a pimple faced pharmacy assistant, being told for the umpteenth time that it is not for long-term use blah blah blah.  It took every ounce of my self-control not to scream, “It’s 15mg of codeine and a bit of paracetamol for fuck’s sake – I’m not bloody Walter White!”

Science Teacher turned Drug Lord – Breaking Bad

By now I had entered Stage 2 and I was in some serious agony – all the time.  It never went away.  I was still trying to hold down my job and I was struggling.

And thus we arrive at TRAMADOL.  It’s quite strong, my doctor said.  It will make you drowsy, my doctor said.  It will be very beneficial, my doctor said.  It was useless.  It had absolutely no impact on the pain, my vision suddenly appeared to be in high definition and I was wired baby!  Wide-eyed, totally awake, senses peaked.  I stopped taking that after two weeks.  I was already having enough trouble sleeping.

From here I ramped it up to the CORTISONE INJECTION – I didn’t really know much about this.  My doctor told me I should have it and that it would fix everything.  One little jab in the bursa of my shoulder and BOOYAH!  All sorted.  Brilliant!  I hate needles but I’m in.  If you are going to fix my body, I’m in!

It had no effect whatsoever on the pain or the movement in my shoulder.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  In fact I later discovered that the injection (which went into the front bursa) was put into the wrong place.  But it was the side affects that did me in – days of insomnia (great – I was loving losing even more sleep!), huge mood swings (laughing hysterically one minute – sobbing my heart out the next) and then the depression hit.  This was a completely terrifying experience for me and led to 5 weeks paid leave from work.

I’ve read online that the cortisone injection has helped many people with frozen shoulder.  I just wasn’t in the 75-80% success rate sadly.

NAPROXEN/NAPROSYN – This drug turned out to have a double-edged sword for me.  I slept better for about 10 days after I started taking Naproxen and it certainly helped with the pain, particularly at night-time.  It didn’t disappear, but it wasn’t so unbearable that I was forced to get up during the night.  I could simply reposition myself and fall back to sleep again.  Excellent, finally a drug that was having some effect!

However, I put on 3.5kg in just ten days.  I initially noticed this after exiting the shower one night and catching a glimpse of a significant bulbous belly in the bathroom mirror, not to dissimilar to the first trimester of a pregnant woman.  And within days my work dresses and pants had become so snug that getting dressed was accompanied with a lot of loud wheezing and grunting.  Forget wearing pantyhose, they were cutting off my circulation.  And as for bending down to put my shoes on – not worth the risk!  I stopped taking this drug immediately, despite my doctor saying, “It’s not the pills, weight gain is not listed as a side effect.”  Tell that to the marshmallow man from Ghostbusters climbing out of my shower every morning dickhead.

I was back to my previous size and weight within 4 weeks.  The pills went into the rubbish bin.  However, if one was not susceptible to this particular side effect – I expect Naproxen would be very helpful in managing frozen shoulder pain.

The plethora of pills I was taking for about 4 months most of them ineffective.

CORTISONE INJECTION…AGAIN!   It was my third doctor (a highly renowned sports doctor) who recommended I try this again, only this time he assured me that the injection would go into the right place – the capsule around my shoulder joint.  As reluctant as I was, there were no other options at this point and with a 75-80% chance of success, I prepped myself for another week of insomnia and took the plunge.  It made no difference whatsoever.  And again, cost me a bomb!

SURGERY – the last hope!  This was not an option.  It wasn’t guaranteed to fix the problem, in fact many frozen shoulders remained following surgery, and cutting through tissue to get to the capsule was only going to cause more damage that would require more healing.  And with that there could also be more problems in the future.

 

At this point I was low…really REALLY low.  I was getting by on about 3-4 hours sleep a night and I was finding it difficult to operate during the day.  I seemed to wander around in a fog, I got my students’ names mixed up and words failed me – not good for an English teacher!  Prior to my frozen shoulder I was always such a cautious pill-taker, religiously following the instructions on the packet.  At this point I was just knocking back whatever I was given, begging for the pain to go away.  And only 3 months into Stage 2 I was still on most of the tablets I’ve discussed above.  I rattled when I walked down stairs and none of them were having any effect.

So I decided to stop taking them all and investigate some other, alternative options.

 

YOUTUBE – I watched video after video that made outrageous claims: ‘Frozen shoulder treated in one minute’, ‘God cured my frozen shoulder’, ‘Dental diagnosis cures frozen shoulder’ and ‘Mongolian death worm bite cures frozen shoulder’.  Total bollocks.  Your time would be better spent cleaning your oven – if you could move your shoulder!

CHINESE MASSAGE – One YouTube video I watched presented a very fit, perky and healthy female trainer who happily chirped, “Most people who THINK they have a frozen shoulder actually don’t.  It is just the pressure points in the shoulder that need releasing.”  So I trundled off to my Chinese masseur religiously once a week for 6 weeks.  While the body massage was fantastic, when it came to moving and manipulating my shoulder, the pain sent me through the roof.  After 4 weeks I decided that this was not benefiting my shoulder, no matter how much he coerced the tension out of my ‘pressure points’.

701 PLASTERS *makes angelic choir noise*   This product is a GODSEND which I found through EBAY.  It comes in a roll which you cut to size and stick on your shoulder like a plaster.  It contains: Ground beetle, Kuznezoff Monkshood Root, Nux Vomica, Rhubarb, Zanthoxyli Radix, Giant Knotweek Rhizome, Borneol, Peppermint Oil, Camphor, Menthol 14 types.  Sounds like witchcraft I know, but these plasters were the only thing that enabled me to continue working without the constant need for pills.

The plasters can only be worn for ten hours at a time but I used them during the day (every day) for about 6 months.  They have a warming effect on the shoulder joint and while I smelled like a Chinese herbal shop most of the time, I didn’t find the smell offensive and nor did my work colleagues.  This product did not heal my frozen shoulder but it made my days during Stage 2 bearable – and I was really struggling!  I couldn’t have continued working at school without them and I highly recommend these for anyone’s shoulder pain.

701 Plasters – available on eBay and my saving grace!

CUDDLE A PILLOW WHEN SLEEPING – This was a useful tip I found online for both Stages 2 & 3 for helping me actually get to sleep.  I would lie on my good side and hang my frozen arm over the pillow, as if cuddling it.  I usually managed to get to sleep and stay that way for a while.  The white-hot pain would always wake me at some point, usually around 3.00am, but I did find this useful in getting to sleep.  Now in Stage 3, I find it very comfortable to have my arm draped over the pillow and I am sleeping right through the night.

Tripillow/U-shaped pillow – I tried this too and it was okay.  It didn’t really offer any more respite than any other pillow I was using.  But I did find that mixing up my choice of pillow some evenings had an impact on me being able to stay asleep for slightly longer.  Using the same pillow all the time seemed to make the pain worse.

CUPPING – This was something unusual that I thought I would try.  It certainly helped the tightness in my muscles around my shoulders and upper back (much of which I attribute to poor posture spent marking student papers) but unfortunately it made no difference to the pain or restricted movement in my shoulder.  In fact, that raised angry purple dot on the top of my shoulder was really bloody sore for about a week afterwards.  It did allow me to bond a little with Michael Phelps during my early morning Olympics viewing though!

M Phelps photo courtesy of http://www.dailymedical.com

HANG FROM A CHIN-UP BAR – I found this suggestion online.  The person who suggested this is a moron and has never had a frozen shoulder.  Hang from a bar?  I couldn’t even hang the bathmat over the fucking shower door, and as for hanging washing?  Forget it.  I was already coercing my hubby into the shower with me so that I would have someone to wash my hair.  I spent four months going out in public with wonky ponytails!  *mutters*   Hang from a fucking chin-up bar…

MAGNETIC NEOPRENE SHOULDER STRAP – I’m not sure if the magnets had any significant effects but the neoprene kept my shoulder warm, so that helped a little.  It did not help with the pain or seem to encourage a greater range of movement.  I slept in it once and my shoulder was the worst it has ever been on waking.  Occasionally I used it during the day but it was uncomfortable slipping up and down over my left breast all day and wasn’t really giving me much relief.  I threw the towel in on this and went back to the plasters.

Not the most comfortable thing to wear under one’s clothing…

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS DIET – Having stopped all medication, I decided to focus on eating as many foods as possible each day that were known to have anti-inflammatory properties:  avocado, beetroot, cucumber, onion, spinach, nuts, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, asparagus, salmon, broccoli, celery, carrots, fish oil, green tea, lemon/lime and water, apple cider vinegar and pure cherry juice.

I also tried adding in – where I could – a few anti-inflammatory spices and had a pretty strong reaction to TURMERIC & GINGER.  I decided to try adding 1 teaspoon of these miraculous spices where I could to everything for a week or two and see what the result, if any, would be.  So I spooned a teaspoon of each into a banana smoothie on the first morning and drank it down.

Now I didn’t expect magic, but after about 10 minutes I felt a very warm fuzzy feeling in my big right toe…and then my vision started to become distorted.  I felt like I was looking at my living room through a kaleidoscope.  Small jagged, wobbling triangles rotated around the circumference of my vision and I had lost all peripheral vision in my left eye.  How did I know that?  I walked straight into the fridge door whilst desperately trying to get to the water jug to dilute my system.  Didn’t even see it!  After 20 quite frightening minutes and 3 glasses of water, my vision returned to normal – but DANG they are two very powerful spices!  I have since read that if you are new to turmeric, it is best to start with a 1/4 teaspoon to allow your body to get used to it.  Noted.

While there were no noticeable improvements to my shoulder during this FOOD PROGRAM, I don’t doubt it was beneficial and I felt good.  Probably for the first time in ages since I was hardly sleeping.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that the reason my hair and nails were growing so fast (a sign of good health) during this trial period was due to these foods.  And I appeared to have taken on a slightly orange hue which made me look tan-tastic.  Just kidding.

DMSO GEL – This stuff is just bizarre!  A by-product of paper making, it comes from a substance found in wood and is often used to alleviate pain in horses.  Well, if it’s good enough for horses, it’s good enough for me!

The side effects listed online made for some unsettling reading but people with shoulder injuries swore by it and there were hundreds of positive reviews.  Unable to find this in Australia, I had to order it online from America.  I thought I would start by rubbing some onto a test spot on my foot before I doused my shoulder in the transparent goo.  Good job I did.  The pads on my fingers shrivelled up like they had been in the water for too long – and then it felt like the surface of the skin had been removed, you know that feeling when you accidentally got superglue on your fingers?  And it was hot…burny hot.  This gel never made it as far as my shoulder and has been confined to the dark recesses of my bathroom cupboard until I meet someone who owns a horse….or until my husband pisses me off one day and I slip it into his underpants *snigger chortle*.

GENTLE SHOULDER EXERCISES – I thought perhaps if I tried to get my shoulder moving gently that might help things  along – but my movement was extremely limited and going to the gym was completely out of the question.  I hadn’t been able to reach the handlebars on my bike for months (my brand new bike I purchased just before I developed frozen shoulder.  Typical!).  The exercises below did help a bit – and I felt like I was doing something positive – but I was very careful when doing them.  Even though they are only very basic in their movements, I could certainly feel them stretching my socket!

REIKI – This was something I’d never tried before, but I was giving anything a go by now!  I found it very relaxing, and I noticed a strange sensation in my shoulder – it went very warm to begin with, and then turned icy cold.  It felt as if someone had injected a frozen, liquid gel into the socket and it ached quite a lot afterwards.  Perhaps it helped.  Perhaps it didn’t.  I imagine one would have to continue with this treatment to see if there were any effects.  It just wasn’t something I wanted to pursue.

ESSENTIAL OILS – These smelled divine and I’ve always been one for lathering lotions and oils all over my body but I had never delved into essential oils before.  So following the instructions, I mixed up my oils and rubbed them into the shoulder reflexology point on my foot to trial them first.  It became apparent very quickly that, like the ginger and turmeric, these oils were powerful!  Within 10 minutes my kaleidoscope vision was back…and then it all but disappeared completely.  Ordering my hubby to bring me a sopping wet towel immediately, I wiped off the oils and lay very still on the sofa with a cold flannel covering my eyes and waited for my vision to return.  It did, after about 15 minutes, and brought with it a pounding headache.  What I hadn’t been told was that I needed a base oil to mix with the essential oils – that putting them on ‘straight’ was a little too strong.  I didn’t pursue this remedy either, but if followed correctly could well be beneficial.

If you’d like a full copy of the page in this photo please feel free to message me.  I was trying to be artistic with the shot 🙂

BOWEN THERAPY – I heard about this from our school librarian who had a friend that tried this and said it worked.  So I leapt into Wikipedia  to learn a little about this alternative healing technique (developed by an Australian as it happens).

Prepared to give anything a try, I found a Bowen Therapist just minutes from my work and made an appointment to see Shawna Sibritt.  My first consultation was memorable.  I was exhausted, in so much pain I would have cut my right arm off with a blunt hacksaw given the chance, and the whole time I was with her I couldn’t stop weeping.  Not one of my finer moments really!

The therapy itself was very pleasant.  I lay for 60 minutes in an aroma filled room, gentle sounds of lapping water, birds and crickets in the background, while she performed a number of small manipulations at various points all over my body.  Cheaper and considerably less painful than physiotherapy, she assured me I would only need 3 or 4 sessions – and if it didn’t help, then it probably wasn’t going to.  I left feeling much calmer and relaxed with instructions to drink plenty of water that afternoon.  To be honest, I was VERY skeptical.  I remember thinking to myself, “I must be the most gullible person in Perth at the moment.  She barely touched me, how is this going to help?”  But I took comfort in the fact that she wasn’t in it for the money – 3 or 4 sessions at $60 each I could handle.  And if it didn’t work, well I could just rack it up with all the other money spent to date.

That evening after my first session I felt like I’d had a remedial massage with Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman at Almaty, Khazakstan (Long Way Round).  My body was SORE!   But a week later I noticed that I was sleeping about an hour longer than usual.  At my next two appointments I completely fell asleep on the table – something I’ve never done during a massage or beauty therapy treatment.  As time wore on things started to, very slowly, change for me.

I began sleeping through the night but still had pain upon waking, however, this also started to dissipate as the weeks rolled by.  About three weeks after my fifth (and final) appointment I no longer needed to wear my 701 plasters or take nurofen/codeine for the pain.  I was also noticing small improvements in my range of movement:  I could pour a cup of tea using my right hand, I could almost reach up to the clothesline, I could flick the bed sheets without belts of pain and the hoovering became easier.  Things just got better.

And then it became clear.  I had entered STAGE 3:  THE BIG THAW.   Yessss!!!!!!!  More tears – this time of complete relief, joy and reflection.  Had I really spent almost an entire year living with this debilitating condition?

Can I claim that Bowen Therapy is the cure?  No.  But I definitely believe it helped.  It could just be timing; that my shoulder was going to begin to thaw after 9 months of being frozen anyway.  Perhaps.  Could it have something to do with me deciding to quit teaching for a while and removing that stress from my life?  Yes – I believe this helped too.

But I still believe that Bowen Therapy had a big role to play in encouraging the stress and tension to leave my body and allow my shoulder to begin to release.

 

STAGE 3:  THE BIG THAW

At the time of writing this, I am 3 months into this phase.  It has been 14 months since I started this journey and all going according to my plan, I hope to be completely thawed by July 2017.  Fingers crossed!

I started back at the gym about a month ago with very gentle exercises and stretching.  The muscles around my shoulder have deteriorated significantly over time and I have long way to go to realign my posture.  When standing straight, I slope downwards on the right hand side.  Awkward.  But I am hell-bent on progressing slowly in this regard.  The last thing I want is a set back now that I am finally coming out the other side.

I also went back for another BOWEN THERAPY SESSION this week.  My last one was nearly 4 months ago, and since I am so sure that it helped the onset of my thawing phase, I wanted to have another session and see if it might speed up the release of my shoulder.  It felt great afterwards so watch this space!

 

SOME FINAL ADVICE:

Wear pyjamas (and other clothing for that matter) with buttons down the front.  Mornings were the worst for me for stiffness and pain.  Until I could get into a hot shower and get my shoulder moving a bit, it was near on impossible to do anything.  Having a button front pyjama top just makes the mornings a bit easier.  Thank you to my husband for that golden suggestion!

The agony of the bra (for the single ladies and those whose hubbies work shifts).  Obviously if someone is on hand, get them to affix the bra for you.  Don’t struggle unnecessarily.  If you have to manage on your own:  hook the clasps at the front of your body, rotate and SLOWLY wiggle it up.  Slow and steady is the key here ladies – breathe your way through it and remain as relaxed as you can.

No one can appreciate how difficult and painful something as simple as getting dressed is when you have a frozen shoulder.  I had to allow an extra 30 minutes most mornings to get showered, clothed, hair done (badly I might add), make-up on, breakfast and gather up my work things.  Driving to work, I could only ever manage it with my right arm resting on the bottom of the steering wheel.  Praise be for whomever invented power steering!

Catch some shut-eye where you can and LEAVE YOUR GUILT AT THE DOOR.  If you are falling asleep on the couch at 5.30pm after work, let it happen.  If you need to go for a Nana Nap on a Saturday afternoon at 2pm and you wake up two hours later, let it happen.  Obviously if you have small children, ensure they are suitably supervised!   Understand that most other people in your world are operating on 7-9 hours sleep per night.  We are not.  And we need to make up that time somewhere in order to function as best we can.  If, like me, you’ve always been a lively and active person, you will find it difficult to accept this.  But you must.  You could be dealing with this pain every night for up to three years (worst case scenario of course).  So give yourself a break!

Remind yourself how amazingly well you are coping.  You are still getting on with your day-to-day life under pretty extraordinary circumstances which makes you a person of fortitude, resilience, guts and determination.  And you will have developed a bloody high pain threshold!  I read about someone’s experience with frozen shoulder and they said that some days the pain can be a 12 out of 10.  True that!  You are coping the best you can with a condition that doctors have no answers for.  And in this age of technological and medicinal advancement, it is LUDICROUS to be told ,”I’m sorry Sir/Ma’am  There’s nothing we can do.  You will just have to wait from 6 months to 3 years until the shoulder fixes itself.”

If you haven’t ‘lost-your-shit’ at some stage in this whole process, then you are not human.  It’s okay to have these moments, and it’s here that you need to remind yourself how phenomenal you are.  I’m 14 months in – I honestly can’t believe I’ve been dealing with this for that long.

Finally, ACCEPT HELP.   I am a fiercely independent person.  I don’t like relying on others to do things for me.  It makes me feel useless, weak, pathetic and needy.  On one occasion I stubbornly struggled for up to 15 minutes trying to get the lid back on the Yoplait tub one-handed, despite it having slid off the bench TWICE and splattered vanilla goo all over the kitchen cupboards (which also required cleaning and most of which I couldn’t reach!).  All of which took place under the bemused eyes of my husband who was leaning casually against the fridge waiting for me to ask for assistance.  He knows better than to offer it!

So, I have learned to be less ‘heroic’ and ask for help when I need it.  On reflection I wish I had done that a LOT sooner!

 

Which brings me (finally!) to a close.  I wish you all the best on your frozen shoulder journey and hopefully you can take something away from this post.  Take each day as it comes.  Don’t think about how long your journey may be – that only made me want to smash shit up!  Just get through today and remember to pat yourself on the back when you do.

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32 responses

27 04 2017
Stella

Thank you so much Kiri. I think I am in stage one. Went to the doctor and she was very unhelpful. Said sleep on your good side. That was all the advice if got. I am going to share this with a chiropractic friend of mine. If nothing else, your writing is superb and the experience might be useful to her.

27 04 2017
kirib30

Oh Stella, I’m so sorry to hear that – you’re in for a bit of a rough ride if that’s what it is. I wonder if a stiff drink would ease the pain? I stopped drinking 6 years ago so I’ve not tried that remedy but perhaps Nick’s Homemade Stout or some such might do the trick?! LOL Here if you need any elaboration on anything. K XX

7 05 2017
Shauna Sibbritt - Bowen Therapy

it’s been a long journey for you Kiri and I’ve been fortunate to be on it with you. Bowen Therapy is an amazing Australian remedial technique that is now used throughout the world, helping so many suffering from back pain, sciatica, headaches, migraines, sporting and accident injuries, stress and frozen shoulder as you know. Very grateful for the mention, thank you. Your Blog is a terrific read. Shauna Sibbritt – Bowen Therapy

8 05 2017
kirib30

Thanks Shauna. Your kind and nurturing approach was exactly what I needed. Thank goodness I found you – even if I did end up at the wrong house in Kalamunda Hills to start with! LOL. Kind regards, Kiri

11 05 2017
Deb

I must say you took the words right out of my mouth. Except I add a chiropractor as it put my neck and back out as well. I think we are on the exact same time line. Thanks for sharing

15 05 2017
kirib30

Hi Deb. Happy to share – I truly sympathise with you but I’m thrilled to know you are on your way out the other side. We could have commiserated with each other on those dark and painful mornings. Hey there’s a thought, a chat room for frozen shoulder sufferers….. All the best with your recovery! Kind regards, Kiri

6 06 2017
Chezlynne Griffiths

Having just read your post I can relate to nearly all of It, my fs started sept 16, tried all sorts then Bowen in January to March which I am positive started my thaw, I still have some pain but my Rom is improving and I can almost reach my bra strap (which was impossible) big love for Bowen Therapy xxx

6 06 2017
kirib30

Hi Chezlynne. I am THRILLED for you and your bra strap progress!! I almost got it last week but it felt a bit twingey so will leave it for a bit longer. I’m terrified of injuring the capsule and going backwards. Well done on making it out the other side with your sanity! Kind regards, Kiri

14 06 2017
Shauna Sibbritt - Bowen Therapy

Hi Chezlynne, glad you love Bowen Therapy too. Bowen Therapists from Australian beginnings are all over the world now, so if you or anyone has trouble finding a Therapist, please contact me thorough my facebook page Shauna Sibbritt-Bowen Therapy and I’ll be happy to assist in finding you a registered Bowen Therapist in your part of the world. Glad you are improving. Shauna

6 06 2017
Erna

Traveling on this journey from HELL since February of this year! Have already done SO many of the things you talked about! Just reading your blog (out loud) to my patient hubby made us both chuckle at all of our shared experiences! Your writing skills are enviable! Thanks for sharing your experience! I look forward to the day when this HELL is just an awful memory. Wish you nothing but pain free days and nights for many years to come!
If you ever want to visit America– you have a kindred spirit who will gladly give you a place to crash!
Happy for your thaw!
Erna Akers

6 06 2017
kirib30

Hi Erna. God bless patient husbands – it makes all the difference having that extra pair of loving hands! I feel very sorry for singles who have to go through this. I’m so pleased you got a giggle out of my blog, after all laughter is the best medicine they say. I can laugh now…..but during my penance in hell, not so much! All the best for your journey. You are doing brilliantly just getting on with day to day life so keep it up! And I do have plans to visit the US in the next year or two so I just may take you up on that offer. LOL Likewise, if you’re ever down under in Perth…. Kind regards, Kiri

14 06 2017
Shauna Sibbritt - Bowen Therapy

Hi Erna, if you would like to give Bowen Therapy a try as Kiri did, I can thoroughly recommend it, biased of course. If you have trouble finding a therapist, please contact me through my facebook page Shauna Sibbritt-Bowen Therapy and I’ll be happy to find a registered therapist for you on our Bowen Therapy world wide register. Best of luck Shauna

6 06 2017
Vickie

Thank you for sharing your story. You were spot on. I’ve had 3 frozen ^%#~\~ shoulders. I feel like one has been trying to come on lately. Trying to stop it in its tracks. I sleep with my arm under my pillow and I know this is auding to my problem. It’s hard to control your body when you are unconscious. Thanks for the tips. Hope I don’t have to use them.

6 06 2017
kirib30

Hi Vickie. OMG three times?! Girl, you deserve a @#$&% medal!!! That’s an interesting comment about sleeping with your arm under the pillow. I used to do that with my right arm a lot before it froze and now that it is freeing up I’ve been sneaking it back under there for comfort. Maybe I should avoid doing that? Thanks for sharing, you might be on to something there! Kind regards, Kiri

6 06 2017
Krystal

I could of wrote this word for word myself…except I have not hit stage 3 as yet. It has been 3 years. Im stuck on a paracetamol/codine/lyrica cycle and gaining weight fast which is depressing. I will try and find a bowen therapist in my area. Thanks so much for writing this..I feel so alon popping pills daily just to get basic chores done. X

6 06 2017
kirib30

Hi Krystal. Three years – that is truly awful and I’m so sorry for what you are experiencing. It’s a terrible cycle: you need the pills to cope but they add the weight which makes you feel worse. Ugh! In our medically advanced world, why has someone not found a cure for this yet? If you can find a therapist, give Bowen Therapy a go. It certainly won’t hurt. I was able to stop taking pills about 2 months after starting that. Good luck, and never feel like you are alone on your journey because you certainly are not. Kind regards, Kiri

6 06 2017
Alice Miller Bishoff

My right shoulder froze 1 week after major knee surgery in 2010. It lasted 18 months, and like you, I would’ve done ANYTHING for relief. Nothing worked. After it thawed, I was SO happy, and yet traumatized that I’d get it on the left side. I lived in dreaded fear of it returning, the memory of it was so bad. Then in 2012, it happened. I got it on the left side. Another 18 months, and then it thawed. The 2nd time wasn’t AS bad, it wasn’t my dominant side AND I wasn’t also simultaneously recovering from knee surgery. Your article is SPOT ON. Every single day now that I’m not in pain, I give THANKS and try to realllly appreciate it. I didn’t miss any work thru the whole mess either (bookkeeper) and i normally need a LOT of sleep, which wasn’t happening during those dark times. I am amazed I made it through, but really, there’s no choice, is there? Thank you for writing this.

6 06 2017
kirib30

Hi Alice. I think you are reading my innermost thoughts! I have heard that many sufferers can get it in the other shoulder at a later date and I really, REALLY want to avoid that happening! Congratulations on making it through not just once, but TWICE!
Respect sistah! That’s one hell of an achievement. Kind regards, Kiri

6 06 2017
Debbie

Love this! Hilarious. I’m about 12-14 months in and I’m the frozen phase. No tried a number of the same remedies — gained a lot of weight and never attributed it to naproxen! Pain has been gone since February — maybe I’ll have some thawing in the next few months. It’s hard to believe that nothing helps until you’ve been through it!

6 06 2017
kirib30

Hi Debbie. I’m so pleased I could bring a smile to your face! If the pain has subsided then you are definitely moving on. I found that after the pain was gone it was just a matter of continuing to live with the restricted movement for a while, and then ever so gradually I started to notice small changes – my pony tail was less on the side, I could reach across to the opposite shoulder, I could reach up for a glass from the cupboard that sort of thing. The day I hung a towel on the line earned a spirited victory dance around the plants on the atio! Once that thawing starts, I highly recommend some light exercise and stretching. Each time I do a light work out and stretch, my range of movement gets a little bit better. I’m not a big one for ‘working out’ and just doing it once a week is having significant improvements for me. May the thawing be with you very very soon!! Kind regards, Kiri

6 06 2017
Kelly Horne

Brilliant article! Ditto for almost everything. I’m 4yrs on my right & almost 3yrs on my left and can finally see light at the end of the long dark tunnel. Thanks for sharing!

6 06 2017
kirib30

Hi Kelly. You have got to be kidding me?! SEVEN years!! Of course you’re not kidding – frozen shoulder is no laughing matter! Good grief, you are a total LEG! (As in LEGend, not a body part!) May the light at the end of your tunnel get a whole lot brighter Kelly. You are one hell of a woman to get though that! Kind regards, Kiri

12 06 2017
Mariano Rodríguez

Ayuda mutua gratuita para hombro congelado (Frozen Shoulder), para encontrar la curación y el alivio. Consiste en gran dolor del hombro, normalmente por causa desconocida, gran pérdida de su movilidad y muy lenta curación. También llamado capsulitis adhesiva (Adhesive Capsulitis) o capsulitis retráctil, o periartritis escápulohumeral (Periarthritis humeroscapularis) o enfermedad de Duplay, o pericapsulitis u hombro rígido o Síndrome de Contractura del Hombro Congelado (FSCS, en inglés). Grupo para enfermos, personas que se curaron, familiares, amigos, terapeutas, médicos, kinesiólogos, quiroprácticos, acupuntores, masajistas, estudiantes, investigadores, interesados en general, etcétera. Las publicaciones de este grupo no están necesariamente realizadas por profesionales y ni siquiera necesariamente han sido comprobadas en su propio cuerpo por el autor de la publicación, sino que las publicaciones se realizan en general para aportar ideas que posiblemente puedan ayudar de alguna manera a que cada cual encuentre un camino de curación. Este es un grupo bilingüe general (español-inglés) sobre hombro congelado. En marzo de 2017 no hay otro grupo general en inglés o español. He creado este grupo general porque actualmente estoy sufriendo de hombro congelado. Mi nombre es Mariano Rodríguez y vivo en Mendoza, Argentina. Los invito a todos a unirse a este grupo general. #hombrocongelado #frozenshoulder
#capsulitisadhesiva #reumatología #traumatología #hombrodoloroso
https://www.facebook.com/groups/hombrocongelado/

14 06 2017
kirib30

Hola Mariano. Gracias for sharing your Facebook site with me. It has some good information and is easily translated into English for sufferers to read about and follow. Some of the photographs you have provided of a normal shoulder compared to a frozen shoulder are quite disturbing, but that’s in keeping with how it feels actually. It looks as horrific as it feels! I also see some other suggested rememdies which I think I would have tried if I’d seen them sooner! Good luck with the remainder of your frozen shoulder journey!
Kind regards, Kiri 🙂

28 07 2017
Kim

Hi Kiri, I enjoyed reading this just now and can very much relate. AC started in my right shoulder about 15 months ago, and in my left shoulder about three months ago. Did cortisone in right shoulder last year. I will never do that again because the side effects were horrible! Right side is in thawing stage now, and left is in frozen. I also have a lot of pain and stiffness in my neck and upper back. UGH! I’ve been doing PT, but am intrigued by the Bowen Therapy. I think I will research this more. Thanks for sharing your journey. I’m amazed at how many are suffering through this awful condition.

31 07 2017
kirib30

Hi Kim. You poor poor thing! Two frozen shoulders at once? That is an unbearable thought. You must have a hell of a lot of sheer guts and determination to be dealing with that every day – good for you! I have to admit, I’m surprised at how many people have commented on here already and shared their experiences. It definitely helps knowing that others are suffering and trying all the things that you yourself are trying to make it better. It’s the most bizarre condition and it affects so many people. I don’t know why a medical professional or student doesn’t study it further. I think it’s thesis/doctorate material for sure! Keep up what you are doing and definitely look into Bowen Therapy. It’s not expensive, and you only need 3-4 sessions to know if it is working or not. That’s the best part. It’s not going to break the bank like going to physiotherapy will for months on end. I wish you all the very best and fast healing. And keep smiling Kim. You’re a 4real legend! Kind regards, Kiri 🙂

8 08 2017
Julie

What an amazing read. Finally I don’t feel alone. What I am going through is valid
12 months into this journey and only got a diagnosis 1 month ago from a physio. My sessions there are temp relief. Unfortunately I think I am still thick in stage 2, begging for stage 3 to begin. I am now researching Bowen Therapy in my area with the hope it will onset my big thaw as well. I can’t stand this any longer.

8 08 2017
kirib30

Hi Julie. I’m so glad that my post has helped you in some way. It is so easy to feel alone because everyone else is getting on with their normal lives, including sleeping, and we are far from coping some days! The tough part is that from the outside we look fine to everyone else, and inside the constant pain is really tough to deal with. As you can see, you are far from alone. Just keep swimming (to quote Dory). You will get there and when you do you’ll be amazed that you managed to last all those months! I wish you all my strength and patience! Kind regards, Kiri 🙂

8 08 2017
Shauna Sibbritt - Bowen Therapy

Hi Julie, make sure your Bowen Therapist is fully registered as you may be able to claim Health Fund rebates from them. If you have any trouble finding someone, contact me through my Shauna Sibbritt-Bowen Therapy fb page and I’ll help with finding a Therapist for you as I have access to our World Wide Therapists listings. Good luck, Shauna Sibbritt.

9 08 2017
Julie

Hi Shauna,
I don’t actually have health insurance so all the treatments I’m seeking are coming out of my pocket and adding up fast.

8 08 2017
Diane Cvetic

I developed frozen shoulder in late April of this year (I am 53 years old). By early July I was waking 4-5 times a night in agony from a severely inflamed joint capsule. I refused cortisone injections or anti-inflammatory medication. The physical therapist gave me exercises and told me it would take 12-18 months to heal. On one particularly bad night, I had a flashback to age two when I had a severe case of hives from drinking too much tomato juice. In the morning, I did research on diet and inflammation and decided to give Dr. Steven Gundry’s Plant Paradox diet a try. He focuses on eliminating inflammatory foods more than seeking out anti-inflammatory foods. After eliminating all sugar, all nightshades, all grains, and all legumes, I eliminated all pain in my shoulder after only four days and have slept through the night every night ever since. It has now been 4 weeks, and I have a 90% restoration of range of motion (I had lost about 50% ROM). There is evidence in the peer reviewed literature that suggests an underlying metabolic abnormality in frozen shoulder: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26776943. I am now wondering whether eliminating all sugar and severely restricting carbs halted the production of AGE’s, which in turn put out the inflammatory fire that was raging inside my shoulder. It has been only 3.5 months since my symptoms started, and I am now in the final stages of thawing. This is not supposed to happen! There is similar anecdotal evidence out there of people eliminating their symptoms with a similar diet (ketogenic, avoiding nightshades, etc.). All the evidence points to an underlying metabolic disturbance (think increased incidence in diabetics here), but few doctors are exploring dietary changes as an effective treatment. No one should have to suffer such a debilitating condition for the average 12-18 months when the correct dietary changes can clear it up in just a few short weeks.

9 08 2017
kirib30

Hi Diane. Wow, thanks for sharing. This makes for very interesting reading and had I known about this during my experience, I would have tried it for sure! It’s easy and doesn’t cost money to follow through. Thanks for posting it here – it may very well help someone who has tried a multitude of other things. It’s definitely worth a try! And I’m so pleased for you that your frozen shoulder was shortlived! Kind regards, Kiri 🙂

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