Frozen shoulder!

Hello everyone! New physio says I have frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) which kinda explains the extreme shoulder pain I've had since June, preventing me from swimming and making simple things like closing the car boot, getting dressed, or playing frisbee extremely difficult. The plus of all this is that because I can't swim I took up C25K :)

If anyone has any advice I'd welcome it. I'm currently taking 20 mg amitriplyline a night which helps me sleep for more than 2 hrs at a go and is supposed to help relax muscles and deal with the pain. It does make working difficult though. I'm feeling a bit ambivalent- glad to at least have a name for it and an explanation of what's going on; but saddened at how long it could take to improve and pretty stressed about my work.

All advice welcome!


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29 Replies

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    Kelly Starrett has some great stuff for shoulder mobility - frozen shoulder is a not uncommon condition for Crossfitters.

  • Hi Rig, that's amazing- I had just bought a copy of the supple leopard book! My son saw it and immediately borrowed it! I'll definitely investigate further- thank you πŸ˜€

  • I have just been signed off from the physio after being treated for exactly what you have, so I know exactly the pain you are talking about. Frozen shoulder makes it sound like a trivial shoulder complaint, it isn't. My only advice is do all the exercises the physio gives you and if you haven't got a good heat bean bag get one. When I wasn't allowed to run with mine I walked, I tried to keep to 5x5km a week which helped with the mental side of the condition. keep your chin up, I found coming on Here a great help as nowhere understands you need to get back up to full strength more than here. You will get over it, I have 95% movement now but the 5% l am missing is down to muscle aptrohpy so just working on my muscles and I will be back to full force very soon and I am sure so will you.

  • Yes it sounds trivial doesn't it! Apparently it's also called adhesive capsulitis which sounds a bit more serious- funnily enough it features in an internet list of ten painful conditions. Sorry to hear you have been suffering as well. I was seriously considering buying a microwave specifically to be able to heat one of those bean bags- I can't tell what a good bean bag is from an average one at present. I have a shoulder pulley to start work with and a foam roller is on the way. I am truly finding it a bit depressing due to the combination of pain, lack of sleep, duration and interference in everyday matters from both the condition and the drugs. Thank you for your response and support!

  • Good luck in managing this, from a fellow sufferer.

    I had a sudden issue in July last year where I experienced a few days of excruciating pain in my left shoulder /arm for no apparent reason. During this stage I was afraid to move my arm because it hurt so much. I seemed to recover reasonably well from this. but then spent a weekend last October moving furniture, at which point my symptoms came back and became chronic. Some 17 months from the original issue and 13 months on from when it became a chronic problem, I still don't have full movement on the affected side (can't stretch my arm fully above head or reach behind), but I do have most if not all of my strength back within the plane of movement I have. I don't have any pain and have adopted a range of ways of managing it so that it doesn't impact on me much.

    It's a long slog even once you are out of the excruciatingly painful stage. Do everything you can to stop your arm muscles from atrophying, as your natural instinct is to avoid using the affected arm. Although I struggled at first, I can and do swim regularly, and found this helped a lot in building strength and extending movement. It took about 6 months to get to the point where I could swim front crawl and backstroke again. Sidestroke, using the good arm, was the easiest place to start, followed by breaststroke, once I could trust it a bit.

    I had months of sleeping badly. Eventually I put a mattress topper on the bed and got a 2nd pillow. I mostly find it best to sleep on my back, putting a pillow under my knees for comfort and to stop me rolling; putting my other pillow between the affected shoulder and head, so my shoulder is on the mattress, and bending the elbow on my affected arm so my hand rests on my chest. I can now also get to sleep on the affected side with careful use of both pillows. Oddly enough I have more problems sleeping on the unaffected side because I can't easily support the problem arm.

    I also found simple tasks like getting dressed and undressed really frustrating. I found solutions such as putting the affected arm into clothes first, fastening bras at the front and twisting them round, managing all clothes removal with the good arm only etc etc. it's a case of working with what you can do.

    I am told it's a self limiting condition and that it should eventually free up. I can't wait!

  • Thanks for your reply- this is a bit weird but it's great to hear from fellow sufferers. I have four pillows that I distribute around to support on both sides , currently considering buying one of those arrowhead shaped ones to try and see if it would help me lie on my back (I can't normally sleep like that).

    I am completely there regarding clothes. I am having to relearn how to get dressed. I'm finding fitted tops can be very difficult to get off as well as on. Oh and sports bras! Just bought a front zip one!

    I admire you going swimming, and I fully intend to but it just wouldn't be possible yet; I tried a couple of weeks ago and it was really frustrating and also made the next few days even worse.

    Ah well it's good to hear it eventually ebbs a bit- thanks so much for your response πŸ˜€ So nice to hear from 'fellow sufferers' even though it's awful to hear that others have this horrible condition. My physio said its a viral thing, I am absolutely fed up of viruses! Good luck on your 'thaw!

  • Gosh, hadn't heard that it was viral before. *Very, very* interesting to look back at my personal history with that information.

    Anyone tried TENS for this? I haven't but TENS is the most effective form of pain relief for me (provided I use the sort with four pads not two, and usually works best on my back, regardless of where the pain is... 20 or so minutes in and the endorphins arrive... has saved my sanity a few times)

  • Haven't had TENS- had acupuncture which that Physio thought was better than the electric thingy. It was some relief after about 30 hrs...! Do you own a machine or go for therapy?

  • I have a machine.

  • You could try asking on a group like your local Freegle whether anyone has one to give away (replacement pads not too hard to get hold of)... or see if you have a friend who has one you can borrow to try. It is fair to say that some really dislike the sensation - and it depends on you finding the right stimulus for your particular pain. Mine had a range and a booklet (sadly now lost) with guidelines for particular sorts of pain.

  • Freegle? Must Google!

  • Are you virus prone Googleme?

  • I am just looking back at a time when my health started to deteriorate. I did have gastro-enteritis (very unusual for me) but soon after had what sounds exactly like everyone's description of frozen shoulder (I needed a sling for a while)

  • I seem to be a bit virus prone... most significant ones are shingles (twice), and pericarditis - neither exactly a walk in the park. Grnnn!

  • I can't offer any advice I'm afraid but I really hope it improves soon! X

  • Thanks Laura. All these 'minor' health issues are really beginning to get to me- I could do with a long holiday somewhere warm πŸ˜€x

  • It's a horrible condition :( I hope it improves for you as soon as possible. I found that something similar really affected my running in that my shoulder would 'lock' in place and my whole side would be frozen. I moved crab-like, until - with a horrendously loud 'clunk' - the whole thing freed itself and I was able to move more naturally. It was awful. My chiropractor was able to speed it on its way with excruciatingly painful deep tissue massage and exercise, but it does take time, and mine was caused by a dislocated shoulder to start with. Good luck with it.

  • That sounds awful Annie- must have been great to have it miraculously lifted πŸ˜€

  • Thanks everyone. So uplifting to hear other people's tales and have support too! Physio said to use a foam roller- mine arrived yesterday, I lay down on it and immediately my shoulder went completely owchy. Bah!

    On the plus side, I have my running back up to the full 30 mins on the stepping stones podcast which at least gives me some satisfaction πŸ˜€

  • Oh man, that sucks R. Heard it's a really horrid condition. Can't offer any advice just kind words! Hope things improve soon. X

  • Hi Mimsy. Thank you so much. I fell over getting onto a train last week which resulted in bruised foot, sore ankle, bruised knees and wrenching the really bad shoulder.... really a wee bit fed up. Hasn't stopped me running though, fortunately! Some days though it does get me down- then I try to think 'first world problems!' and stop being such a whinger :)

  • Agh, what a disaster. Don't worry, I think we're all entitled to a wee vent every now and again. Good to hear it hasn't stopped you running. I'm still waiting on my torn knee ligament to heal fully before I can run. Likely to need to start from week 3/4 when I finally get the go ahead! Can't wait!

  • aw mims. Tough for you - hugs xxx I guess on the positive side, you absolutely know you can do it- and you also know to go reaaaally slow! :)

  • ;-) I know to go reeeeaaallllly slow!! ;-) I'm feeling quite positive and looking forward to the challenge of getting back out there again. X

  • Sorry to hear about this - hope it clears up quickly.

    I have no experience to offer on this condition, but with reference to TENS machines, I do know that they can be hired if you want to try one before buying - my wife hired one when she was expecting our kids.


  • Hey Ugi- thanks for that- pretty interesting- where did you hire it from? Mind you, I'm prepared to buy if it's reasonable cost to quality ratio.... I see you can get one for around Β£30-50 quid, just not sure how effective they would be? I just bought a small microwave for Β£65 so I can heat up a wheatbag to ease the pain...!!!

    YES I am fed up with it and by averages have only got a third of the way into it!!!!

  • I think chemist chains like Boots etc hire them out, although I don't remember the cost or duration. It was a few years ago now.

    It's one of those things that would be well worth buying if it was going to help but is rather costly if you use it only once and decide it's not going to help you!

    Hopefully between the bean-bag and the exercises and maybe the TENS, you'll have it under control sooner rather than later.


  • you'll laugh- I just burnt the beanbag!!!!

  • Oh No!!

    I'm pretty sure it's not supposed to be _that_ hot! ;-)


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