The pain started at the top of my left arm, persistent, niggling... but nothing drastic. A tiny restriction of movement.   Hardly worth mentioning, it was so minor. But I mentioned it anyway because I'd already had a frozen shoulder on the other side, ten years ago.

Understandably, my doctor wasn't concerned.

But as the weeks went by, the pain got more and the movement got less. A sudden action, the recoil when I burned my finger on the stove, a grab for my hat as it blew off, meant the pain would explode down the arm muscle and I'd have to clutch it breathlessly until the agony subsided.

It's a frozen shoulder - adhesive capsulitis. I'm in the lucky demographic - a woman between 40 and 60 years old. Sometimes it happens after an old injury, and sometimes it happens just... because.



Everyday things have become exercises in contortion.   Eating with a fork in my left hand.   Washing my right arm pit!   Washing my hair. Drying after a shower.   Hanging out the laundry. Getting dressed - thank goodness it's summer - less clothing. Cold days are a trial - more layers, fabrics to catch and drag across each other.

And people touch you - bless them. For a hug, to catch your attention. There's something magnetic about an injured part - if anything is going to be bumped or pulled or poked, it's a certainty it will be the bit that hurts!

At night, my arm and shoulder ache making sleep elusive. The good thing is, since the last episode, I don't move at night - at all. So this time, I haven't had the excruciating experience of waking up because I'm lying on that side. But it still aches like a toothache. I sleep with a pillow under the forearm which helps.

My doctor sent me to a physiotherapist.   Lovely man - but he wanted the poor limb to move in ways that it frankly didn't. I persevered, paying for regular instalments of therapeutic pain... until he started talking hydrocortisone injections into the capsule, hydro-distension (fluid injections to break the adhesions) or manipulation under anaesthetic....

I read up.   These procedures don't come with guarantees.   Sometimes they're spectacularly successfully and sometimes they're not.   The manipulation seems to come with the risk of tendon or muscle damage. Picture a giant speech bubble over my head - "NO THANKS!" 

So now?

My myotherapist is my new favourite person - she hurts too because the muscles are so tight with trying to compensate for the shoulder.   But ultimately I do feel better after visiting her. And at 3am in the morning, a hot water bottle on the aching bits is unbelievable bliss.

I'm looking forward to the sheer wonderfulness of normal movement - probably only another six to eighteen months away!   Can't wait!


Published on the Medical Authors Group Blog on eHarlequin on 10 February 2011