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I have a frozen shoulder

Back from the physiotherapist. I’ve got good news and bad news. Serious bad news. The good news; I finally know what is going on with my right shoulder. The bad news: I finally know what is going on with my right shoulder. I have a frozen shoulder. With a little bit of luck I’ll be fine in a couple of months. Without luck I’ll be fine in 3 years time. If I’ll be fine again.

Let’s start with the good news. I’ve been in pain for months, and every day the pain gets worse. It radiates. Yesterday the whole right side of my face felt numb. I sleep really bad, and having pain constantly makes me feel tired and irritated. So to know what is going on, feels like a relief.

Unpleasant months

I mean, now I can start doing something about it. Not that I haven’t tried. I had physiotherapy the last couple of weeks. It just made it worse. Today I saw a more experienced physiotherapist, Erwin Franken. He made the diagnosis. For him the puzzle wasn’t that hard. He had a frozen shoulder himself, in the past. He told me to get ready for some more unpleasant weeks, probably even months.

When you have a frozen shoulder – adhesive capsulitis – the connective tissue surrounding your shoulder joint becomes thick, stiff, and inflamed. It’s called a frozen shoulder, because you end up in a vicious circle. Your shoulder becomes stiff, which results in pain, so you move your shoulder less, which leads to more stiffness, which leads to more pain and so on.

Three stages

There are three stages:

  1. Freezing stage. Your shoulder becomes stiff, and moving it is painful. Especially at night your shoulder can be very painful. For me, this is my biggest problem. I wake up every night between 4 and 5 am and can’t sleep anymore.
    This stage can last from a couple of weeks to 9 months.
  2. Frozen stage. The pain might lessen, but your shoulder becomes more stiff, and it’s harder to use your shoulder, up to the point that it’s hard to do daily tasks.
    This stage can last from 2 to 12 months.
  3. Thawing stage. Pain lessens and mobility increases. Some people totally recover, others not.
    This stage can last from 5 to 24 months.

Falling

What has caused my frozen shoulder is the question. Probably me falling a couple of times during my trail runs, and injuring my rotator cuff. However doctors don’t precisely know why it happens. They know that immobility, for example after breaking your arm, can lead to a frozen shoulder. Just like a stroke can, and thyroid problems, diabetes and Parkinson. It happens more to women than men, and more to people above 40.

If you like Ayurveda, it’s a Vata problem. I am a Vata, and as you might know Vata problems often happen when it’s cold and wet. So no surprise this has happened to me during winter. If you have no clue what a Vata is, don’t worry, I’ll tell you soon. It will help you to run better.

Treatment

For now there is not much I can do. There is no treatment for frozen shoulder. It has to go away on its own. If the pain is unbearable, I can take some painkillers, and something anti-inflammatory. An ice-pack would be nice. I think I’ll tape my shoulder as well. kinesiology tape always relieves my pain.

For the rest I should find a good balance between resting my shoulder and keep on moving it. I can’t do Vinyasa Flow Yoga, as moving it too much will make the pain and inflammation worse. At the same time, I should move a little to prevent the shoulder from getting too stiff, and loose range of motion in the long term. Luckily I run with my feet, so I can keep on running. Just no falling anymore.

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