Shoulder pain

Three months ago I tripped, fell over and hurt my left shoulder. It has become very painful in spite of seeing two physios who have given me conflicting advice. One (seen privately) says I should raise my arm two different ways to ensure i don't lose mobility in my shoulder, the other (NHS) says that doing this is traumatising the shoulder and stopping it getting better. I have also undergone surgery for breast cancer in the last month and I think the stress of that has made my shoulder worse (surgery successfully removed cancer and just intensive radiotherapy required). The pain in my shoulder in constant. It wakes me in the night and sometimes keeps me awake. I feel depressed, tearful and at my wits end, and fearful that my shoulder won't get better. On holiday in a week's time and moving house in 3 weeks. Should be a happy time but it just isn't. Please help me -though not sure anyone can . . .

5 Replies

  • Have you had any investigations? X-ray or scan? What has your GP said?

    I've had problems with my shoulders but it was not following injury.

    I've had a frozen shoulder three times even though I am told people only get it once. The pattern seemed to be that I start with mild to moderate pain and restriction with movement. I'm referred to physio and that makes it worse, excruciatingly painful! Then my GP gives me a steroid injection which helps with the pain. I continue with my exercises an eventually get the mobility back. All this takes about 2 years!

    I can understand the physio advising movement, this is probably to prevent a frozen shoulder.

    I think you need a diagnosis as the shoulder is a complex joint and there are a number of conditions that can arise with it.

    Good luck.

  • Hi Alliwiff, Sorry to hear you are going through a bad patch health wise. This is a difficult one , the shoulder is complex and really needs a specialist opinion . Your recent breast operation could have effected the shoulder condition, stress as you say yourself or several other things. Even lifting when your stressed might bring some pain on. Physio usually takes a lot of months to make things better. Frozen shoulder can leave a little lasting long term effect but not normally. This is not going to help you, but need to say. I have had both shoulders broken in falls and to spite physio ect I still get pain but was warned of the risk of arthritis in the damaged joints. This is how I know it takes a long time to get a shoulder back to normal after falls. Best wishes, take care look after your health and I am sure given a little more time,physio and pain relief you will get the shoulder pain under control. But do think you should have a precautionary x-ray if not already had one.

  • Get an MRI scan. This will check for any fluid in the shoulder area.

    The shoulder is a very complex joint and a little bit of inflammation will throw everything out. The surgery may have interfered with muscle coordination so shoulder movement is causing irritation. I do not know if this true or not.

    Look up frozen shoulder. It is important to get an MRI scan. X-rays will not show the relationship between muscles and ligaments and bone.

    My understanding is that you need to see an orthopaedic consultant in order to get the MRI. So an MRI or the shoulder and neck will be useful. Nerve impingement in the neck can cause massive pain in the shoulder and interfere with the ability to move the shoulder.

    When you see the consultant discus the possibility of a course of erythromycin. Google for "erythromycin anti inflammatory effects" before you see the consultant and take the Google results with you.

    When I had a tear in the shoulder tendon I had no idea that I had it. It gave me massive pain and restricted the shoulder movement. A two week course of erythromycin cleared up the problem of inflammation and pain . The consultant had to suggest that it was a good idea before the GP could consider such a prescription. No one would have known about the tendon tear without the MRI scan.

    Hope this helps

  • Talk to your GP about the conflicting advice you have been given, and ask if they think some kind of imaging would help figure out what is going on there and how you should manage it. You may not need an MRI, which can be very long waiting lists, even though MRIs do give a lot of detail, as there are other ways to look at shoulder joints, including ultrasounds and xrays. If the GP has a good understanding of shoulders even just them doing a good examination might identify which bit is actually causing your problems. Do you think the surgery (or chemo) might have actually affected that arm? I have a friend who had enormous shoulder problems following breast surgery and chemotherapy, and she needed to be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon to fix it in the end.

  • Broke my shoulder 12 weeks ago and the exercises the physio gives are excruciatingly painful and my fingers are still really swollen is this normal any advice would be welcome

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