Monday, March 7, 2016

Dealing With Frozen Shoulder:The 4 Worst Things

Last June, I noticed a pain in my left upper arm. I didn't think too much about it, but as weeks went by, the pain increased. The pain was tolerable, yet enough to be worrisome. Finally, in October, I gave in and scheduled an appointment with a shoulder specialist.  He diagnosed my condition as "Frozen Shoulder," also known as adhesive capsulitis.

I received an injection which helped for a few weeks, and went to physical therapy for awhile.  At some point, I decided to just endure it, since it is supposed to heal with time. I realize that many people live with much more pain than what I am experiencing with this.  Nonetheless, here's my list of the four worst things about Frozen Shoulder:

1) Changing shirts

I certainly took for granted changing shirts quickly and without pain, but with "Frozen Shoulder," the process has become a constant reminder of the pain and stiffness.
Unfortunately, button-up shirts are not any easier to deal with than pull-overs. It's the angle of the arm between the elbow and the shoulder that sends a shooting pain.

2) Sleeping

Discomfort while sleeping is what drove me to the orthopedist in the first place. At first I tried propping the affected arm on a pillow. Then, I tried changing sleeping positions from one side to the other, and even sleeping on my back. None of these attempts really helped. Every time the arm moved to a certain angle, it would send a pain that ranged from nagging to sharp. The most frustrating aspect of the pain associated with sleeping is when I would have a relatively painless night, and then either reach to turn off the alarm clock or try to push out of bed with the arm. As you can imagine, that is not a fun way to start a day.

3) Getting in a car with an umbrella during a rainstorm

In south Louisiana, we have our fair share of thunderstorms. With "Frozen Shoulder," I have learned to dread them. More specifically, a few of my most painful activities have been associated with an umbrella. For example, if you are struggling with "Frozen Shoulder," do not attempt to carry a box in one arm and an umbrella in the other during a blowing rain storm. Also, since my affected arm is the left arm, handling an umbrella (both in and out) in the car during a storm has been extremely painful. Unfortunately, I have not figured out a way around this.

4) Forgetting

The absolute worst part of struggling with "Frozen Shoulder" is when the pain subsides and I forget about the condition or when I simply react in a situation, using my arm.  There have been times that my son has thrown a ball to me, and I've made a jerking motion upward with the arm to catch it. What a mistake!  Also, it is not a good idea to use the arm to play with a feisty kitten that likes to bite. Any sudden jerks of the arm send the pain up the scale. So while it's nice to not be in pain for the moment, be careful: forgetting about it can set you up for the most pain you will likely experience with the condition.


  1. Sorry you've been experiencing pain like that. I had a similar issue with my thumb. While I was playing basketball last year, someone was passing the ball to someone that I was guarding and I reached around them to steal the ball. I heard a loud pop and thought it was broken. For 3-4 months, I struggled with putting on socks, shirts, pants...everything. It was painful to do anything all because of that thumb. It made me realize just how much I use my thumbs.

    It's still not 100% even after such a long time, but I'm thankful that I can do normal tasks. I'm hesitant to reach out my hands now when I play basketball, that's for sure.

    1. Sorry to hear about your thumb, Devin. It's amazing what we take for granted, isn't it? Thanks for the comment!


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