The Pain Of A Frozen Shoulder (Yes, It Does Ruddy Hurt!)

Up until December of last year I wasn’t even aware of the condition they call Frozen Shoulder or, to give it it’s medical name, Adhesive Capsulitis. It has to be one of the most annoying, painful and disabling conditions I know.

Take a look at this photo for example:

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Taken a couple of weeks ago, the photographer asked me to raise both arms out of the car. My left arm was up as far as it could go!

After around 5 weeks of being in pain with every sign that it was getting worse I decided to visit the doctors in December. It had originally started when I reached behind me in the car to help Grace with something. I wrenched it but didn’t really think anything of it. Until I started to be unable to lift my arm up and I’m not one of those people who likes to ask for help. I need to prove – sometimes to my detriment – that I can do it myself!

The doctor told me that he thought I had hurt the ligaments and tendons in my shoulder so he gave me some anti-inflammatories and sent me to see the Physiotherapist. My first visit wasn’t so good. I nearly passed out with the exercises. I was told to take strong painkillers before my second visit so she could see what was wrong (I was later told by a reliable source that she shouldn’t have done this as it could mask the actual area of pain and not help!). The second visit saw my diagnosis with the Frozen Shoulder. I was given a bunch of exercises and told that there was nothing I could do. It could take around a year to get better and if the pain got really bad I could get a cortisone injection.

A couple of weeks later I went to visit Charlie from The Mad Mummy Musings who told me that the Physio was talking rubbish and her friend Fay, a Sports Massage Therapist, would be able to help. So, just after Christmas, I rang her and have now seen her twice. It’s helping I’m pleased to say but I can see that it is going to be a long process.

It’s hard to explain the different types of pain you get with a Frozen Shoulder but let me try. Firstly, there’s the cramping pain. It feels like when you stub your toe but on a MUCH bigger scale. There has been quite a few occasions where I’ve moved my arm and the muscles have gone into spasm. Goodness how I’ve cried. I feel like such a baby but it does bloody hurt! Grace has been really lovely to me as has Ross. There are times when the nerves are trapped and you can feel it all down your arm. One of the most memorable days for this was New Years Day. Along with all of this, most days your arm just feels like it has been lifting weights and is really tired.

There are all the things you take for granted which become extremely painful. Lifting your arm to put on deodorant, shaving your armpit or simply getting something out of the cupboard. Getting dressed can take forever so I’ve got quite selective about the clothes I wear! Getting in or out of the bath, having a shower, holding cutlery, washing, drying and brushing my hair, folding washing and making the bed. Then there is changing gear when driving. I drove my mini this morning for the first time in ages. The gear stick is very stiff and with each change it was excruciating. And, of course, sleeping! I can’t get comfortable! Thanks to my Mum, I have a neck pillow for my bed (which does encroach onto Ross’ side a little) and this helps a bit.

So, what can you do to help if you are suffering with a frozen shoulder? These are some things that help me;
– Get someone to give you a small massage. I even stood against the corner of a door frame over Christmas to push the corner into my shoulder blade where it hurt
– Ignore the NHS and see a specialist. Fay – my therapist – told me that the biggest problem is that people leave it so long to see someone. She had one lady who was in a lot of pain as she had two frozen shoulders (there are many cases where, if one shoulder goes, so does the other) and it took ages to help her out.
– Take painkillers regularly.
– Use ice packs or frozen veg to take the swelling down

I’m hopeful that this will be sorted before the year is out. If you are suffering then I hope my post has helped you a little. You have every sympathy from me. Please do go and see a therapist!

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17 Comments

  1. September 27, 2016 / 11:46 am

    Hi Victoria,

    Oh that sounds absolutely awful! Glad to hear you’re getting it sorted properly now.

    A frozen shoulder is a persistently painful stiffness of the shoulder joint, which can sometimes lead to complete loss of movement. The tissue around the shoulder joint is known as a capsule. This is fully stretched when your arm is above your head, and hangs down when the arm is lowered. I have read this in an article that the shoulder joint is very complex because it is designed to move in so many directions. There are around twenty muscles involved in shoulder movement and trigger points can develop in any of these. I think getting assistance from shoulder doctor is really helpful in this case.

    Thanks & Regards

  2. February 8, 2015 / 4:13 am

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write about your experience. I went through a similar experience with the sudden pain and hoping it would go away on its own. Unfortunately it didn’t and I finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed with frozen shoulder. My sisters think the diagnosis is pretty funny and because since there are no external signs, they insist that I’ve made up the whole thing just to excuse myself from doing any household chores. For a while, even I began to believe that maybe I was exaggerating about the pain I was in. after reading your article I finally feel like there is somebody else out there who understands what I am going through. Frozen Shoulder

  3. Adrian Boliston
    August 31, 2014 / 1:12 pm

    That sounds really painful – my shoulder has been quite painful for about 2 days and i’m hoping it’s not going to take months to get better. I fell off my bike about 14 years ago and sprained my shoulder so I’m hoping its not an old injury getting bad again.
    Adrian Boliston recently posted..Here be dragons!My Profile

  4. Laura
    June 11, 2014 / 10:04 pm

    I have had frozen shoulder in each shoulder and I treated it completely different in each case. The first time I had frozen shoulder, I consulted an orthopaedic surgeon and he gave me a cortisone shot (which did nothing) and prescribed physical therapy. I went to physical therapy for several months and saw little improvement (if you are in the freezing stage, physical therapy can be very painful and, as a result, in my opinion, it is not very productive). I also had acupuncture (which did not help). When I saw no improvement, I had the manipulation surgery and then several weeks of physical therapy again. It finally resolved itself 8 months after I initially felt symptoms. I thought I was through with this awful condition, so when my other shoulder started to hurt a year later, I was very discouraged. I went to the orthopadic surgeon again and received another cortisone shot. Once again it did not help. I could not see myself going through all of these treatments again and so this time I decided to do nothing. I am 10 months into it and am finally in the thawing stage. The recovery has been slower than my other shoulder but honestly not by much. I did continue to lift light weights (bicep curls) through out so that I would have some muscle in my arm. This condition is extremely painful in the freezing stage – especially when you move out of the restricted range of motion. (My husband of 21 years would tell people that he has only seen me cry in two situations – when my dog died and with my frozen shoulders.) So for those in that stage, my sympathies! It does get better no matter how you treat it. I only hope I am not one of the first people to get it again in the same shoulder!

  5. Norma Pescherine
    June 5, 2014 / 6:59 am

    Thank you so much for writing this. The pain you describe is right on the money. This disorder feels so debilitating and because I look normal on the outside, I’m concerned people might think I’m over-reacting when I get one of those “bring you to your knees” spasms out of nowhere. I usually cry out because it hurts so bad! I start PT this Friday and he is a specialist in using the NAT technique, so I am hoping it will bring me out of this, sooner rather than later.

    One of the other negatives about this is, that it’s hard to find someone to talk to who has experienced this and knows how painful it is. I struggle to do simple tasks such as folding sheets, towels, and it’s getting harder and harder to put deodorant on, much less shave under my arm. I no longer can wear anything that I have to pull over my head. Even pulling up my slacks or jeans is difficult and the right shoulder is now exhibiting painful signs from overcompensating for the left arm. It’s difficult to shut the car door, fasten the shoulder harness, etc. And Heaven help me if I “forget” for a minute that my arm is not supposed to go in a specific direction like when I go to pull a door shut behind me, or reach out to stop something from falling, etc. The excruciating pain that I experience and continue to experience for several minutes is overwhelming.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing this. I don’t feel so alone anymore. God bless you!

    • June 5, 2014 / 4:08 pm

      Bless you Norma, I am so sorry to hear that you are experiencing this pain – I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I am pleased to say that things have started to improve. I don’t get the spasms anymore and since I have been seeing my Sports Therapist she has really helped me. Now, rather than alleviating the pain – which seems to have almost disappeared – it is about getting my arm mobile again. It feels like it has forgotten how to work! I wish you all the best and hope that you get through the bad bit quickly xx
      Victoria recently posted..Prose for Thought – Don’t Wipe Your Feet On Me, I’m Not A Doormat.My Profile

  6. January 24, 2014 / 6:37 pm

    Oh Vicki, oww, that sounds really awful. I’m sure you are innundated with well-meaning people offering advice, so I’ll throw my tuppence in – have you tried acupuncture alongside the massage? It helped my husband’s RSI after just one session, not cured, but helped, so I suspect regular sessions would be more effective too. Thanks for linking to #AllAboutYou – it’s interesting for others to read about this, but I do hope you’ll soon be able to wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care! xx
    Mama and More aka Zaz recently posted..Work.Life.Balance? Meet Katie Portman, Freelance journalist and lifestyle bloggerMy Profile

  7. January 23, 2014 / 10:03 am

    Yowzers trousers that sounds painful! Just another thought to add, reflexology can be good for things like this. Thanks so much for linking up to #AllAboutYou – I hope that wasn’t too painful! Lxx
    Luci – Mother.Wife.Me recently posted..Meet Georgie from City Girl At HeartMy Profile

  8. January 22, 2014 / 11:56 am

    Sounds really painful. I hope you don’t have to endure this for a year!
    Hope you’re feeling better soon. x
    #AllAboutYou
    Morgan x
    Morgan Prince recently posted..Music’s Effect on MoodMy Profile

  9. sarah
    January 22, 2014 / 11:26 am

    sounds so painful! Good to hear you are getting it sorted though!
    sarah recently posted..#allaboutyouMy Profile

  10. January 22, 2014 / 8:35 am

    That sounds awful. Just constantly painful and debilitating for you. I hope it’s starting to improve now x #AllAboutYou
    The Reading Residence recently posted..My Photos – Week 1My Profile

  11. Marylin
    January 21, 2014 / 3:36 pm

    Oh that sounds absolutely awful! Glad you’ve got some friends who were in the know to help you get seen by someone who could help!
    Marylin recently posted..Silent SundayMy Profile

  12. January 21, 2014 / 11:52 am

    I am a few weeks further on with my frozen shoulder. I totally sympathise with your pain. The shooting nerve pains when I’ve over extended my arm have made me literally cry. My right armpit hasn’t been properly shaved for weeks because I can’t stretch my arm up enough to get the razor in! But it does get better. I use Deep Freeze gel and Ibuprofen gel for relief and massage the painful bits. I’m so much better now…much less pain and slightly more mobility. Hope you get better soon. xxx
    WENDY MCDONALD (@wendymcd83) recently posted..Cheer Yourself Up on Blue MondayMy Profile

  13. January 20, 2014 / 9:40 pm

    Oh no, poor you. It all sounds terrible 🙁 glad to hear you’re getting it sorted properly now though, really hope it doesn’t take the full year. Take all the help you can get in the meantime though! x

  14. January 20, 2014 / 9:27 pm

    Oh Vicky, I do feel for you lovely lady ! I remember putting my back out when I was pregnant with Sophia. I used to go into spasm and it is the most excrutiating thing out 🙁 I’m glad Fay is slowly helping you to get some movement back into your shoulder again. Yes a slow process but I still don’t believe it will take a year. Was I that harsh about the physio? Oops 😉 I just hate it when people are told there is nothing that can be done. There’s always something or someone who can help you xx
    Charlie Hughes recently posted..Looking Briefly Back Over 2013 and Forward to Endless PossibilitiesMy Profile

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