Two years ago I “popped” something in my shoulder while parking my car. That little maneuver resulted in eighteen months of hell.
I had 48 hours of pain so severe that I didn’t sleep at all – not so much as five minutes in two nights. When I finally got to see an orthopedist, he had to give me some super-strong pain medication to knock me out enough that I could sleep. He also gave me a shot into the shoulder capsule of a strong pain medication mixed with a steroid. My base-line blood glucose DOUBLED and it lasted for weeks (a month?) as the steroid slowly was absorbed by my system.
Fast forward through weeks of agony, being barely able to wash and dress myself (lots of weeping in the shower, lots of cursing and weeping as I accomplished the impossible, like putting on a bra or arranging my hair with one hand), being barely able to sleep, finding even going for a walk so painful that I lost all my hard-won aerobic fitness, gaining a bunch of weight from the steroids and the lack of exercise, begging my doctor to send me to physical therapy and him saying no over and over because he was afraid they’d injure me further, having three different diagnosis (No, you didn’t tear your rotator cuff. Yes you clearly tore your rotator cuff. No, you didn’t tear your rotator cuff.) until finally finding a senior orthopedist who said, “Didn’t anyone tell you? You’re a diabetic female. You’re seven times more likely than the average person to get a frozen shoulder. You probably briefly dislocated your shoulder and then developed a frozen shoulder as a result of the pain, high blood glucose, slow healing and not using your arm. Go see this one physical therapist; he will tell you really bad jokes to distract you while he temporarily makes your shoulder hurt like hell, but when he’s done, you’ll have your mobility back.”
After a dozen sessions with “Jack” and hours of at-home exercises, physical therapy worked and I have 95 percent of the use of my arm back. If not for this physical therapist (and his bad jokes) I wouldn’t have been able to laugh through my tears until we got it moving again. I’ve passed gallstones and had surgery; the pain of the frozen shoulder was 10X worse than that.
Now I swear by aggressive physical therapy. Yes, it hurts. But if you want to regain the use of your arm, that’s what it takes. Pushing right to the edge of what you can stand (in an intelligent and controlled way) and slowly, slowly, slowly breaking up the frozen stuff and getting back the ability to control the glide of your shoulder under and through the impinged places.