I was diagnosed with a frozen shoulder (adhesive capulitis) several years ago. I was told the symptoms usually resolve themselves after 12-18 months, but the pain and limited use of my left arm really restricted my activities. I opted for treatment.

After physical therapy to restore range of motion (no relief), Injection of cortisone and air into the joint space (to break up the scar tissue and decrease inflammation, no relief), I had a MOA (manipulation under anesthesia). This essentiall consists of manipulating the shoulder through its normal full range of motion while you are under anesthesia. This breaks loose the scar tissue which then allows you to move your arm again. When I woke up, my symptoms were completely gone. I did need a couple sessions of physical therapy after to learn exercises to maintain my shoulder mobility, but that was all. No recurrence of symptoms after almost ten years. The main risk is that of the anesthesia, so you need to balance that against the severity of your symptoms.

I wish you relief soon!


mlichten's picture
mlichten 5 years 49 weeks ago

Hi Thomm --

Like you, I was diagnosed with frozen shoulder (several years ago), after being told I had a rotator cuff injury among other things. When I could no longer raise my arm above waist level, I finally went to see a sports medicine doc who specializes in shoulder problems. His resident initially examined me and confirmed the rotator cuff diagnosis and said surgery would probably be needed. The doc then came in, moved my arm around, explained to the resident why it was frozen shoulder, not rotator cuff.

He said he would not even consider surgery until I underwent (and I remember these words like it was yesterday) "an appropriate and aggressive course of physical therapy". I had the therapy at the sports medicine clinic -- three times a week for several weeks, then two times a week for several more, then once a week, then once every two weeks, etc. I also did assigned simple exercises at home. The sessions were 45 minutes to an hour each. It was a tough and painful experience (sometimes bringing me to tears), but within 6 months I had (and still have) full range of motion. Never was cortisone mentioned and I probably wouldn't have consented had it been recommended -- it's something I simply don't want to put into my body. I took no pain medication of any kind throughout this time.

If you haven't already, I strongly urge you to see a orthopedist who specializes in shoulders -- a teaching hospital with a clinical practice at a university with a large athletic program is a good place to find one, believe it or not -- to be sure you now have an accurate diasnosis. If it is frozen shoulder, get hooked up with a physical therapist who is willing to give you a good workout at each session -- not just take measurements, show you some exercises and send you home with a piece of paper. This is definitely a situation where no pain will equal no gain!

Good luck. I listen to your radio show almost every day and I look forward to hearing about your progress.

goldenfox's picture
goldenfox 5 years 49 weeks ago

One thing I can recommend for any sort of muscular/skeletal pain is to get a book called "The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook" by Clair Davies, NCTMB. Trigger points are points in your muscles that develop into knots, causing referred pain that is felt in another location on your body.

If you can find someone who does trigger point massage in your area, they can help; but you can also do this for yourself with this workbook. It contains many illustrations of how the muscles lie, and there is a whole section regarding "frozen shoulder", as well as how to treat the forearms/wrists when they tell you that you have "carpal tunnel syndrome". Try it in conjunction with other therapies if you want. It's cheap and immediate.

Hope this helps!

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