Hi. I'm not exactly new here. I was researching for my father's Parkinson's issues and found a lot of support. But since he passed away last year I haven't been back. This time around, I'd like to share my experiences with a common but nonetheless extremely painful condition commonly known as frozen shoulder, or Adhesive Capsulitis.
I hope this helps fellow sufferers.
I’m not known for writing blogs at the drop of a mouse but if someone can motivate me to do that, he’s got to be pretty special. Right? And a blog on medical issues? Nah- not me. I belong to that tribe which believes one’s medical issues are best kept between oneself and one’s doctor. I’ve seen too many rolled up eyes and the facial expressions which says “there she goes again, all I did was ask how are you? Do I really need to know her blood pressure and the latest blood sugar value?”
Anyway, the cause of my uncharacteristic behavior this time around is the earth shattering, can-conquer-the-world, born again feeling- after being relieved from the excruciating experience of a frozen shoulder!
It doesn’t sound like much, this frozen shoulder. You just can’t move it a bit, the blissfully thawed shouldered would say. But for someone with a frozen shoulder, the excruciating bolt of 1000 volts which shoots from the armpit to the ends of the fingers when a simple un-thinking action like stretching for the towel on the bathroom rack, sends one into spasms of seeing stars and planets and all the whirling rocks in the cosmos, is something only a fellow sufferer would understand. How difficult can slicing mushrooms possibly be? Or stirring your coffee? Or scrubbing your toes, powdering your under arms, adjusting the rear view mirror of your car? Driving? Unthinkingly, shaking my hand to flick off a bug or pulling a chair towards me would bring on the electrocution. Not being able to do these simple everyday things which needed no effort a few months ago, takes a huge mental toll.
There’s a plus side of-course. The other arm, which was more or a spare part (somewhat like the spare heir!) starts feeling important! I never before tried to brush my teeth with my left hand but now I can. I can also comb my hair, stir the ladle in the cooking pot, and sweep using my left, hitherto non-dominant arm! The only thing which I can be thankful for is that only one shoulder was affected. I cannot imagine how bad it might have been if both had been ‘frozen’.
I went through the gamut of doctors, physio therapies including acupuncture, exercising with bands and yoga but every day the stiffness and pain was increasingly worse. It came to a point when sleep was difficult because I couldn’t turn on my right side and the constant dull, nagging ache in my arm was literally a pain in the A (arm!). One doctor I went to said surgery is the only option if physiotherapy doesn’t work. Another said they could try a steroid injection. A third one said he could try injecting my own blood into the joint which ‘sometimes’ works but no guarantees. Finally I went to this doc (may god bless him!) who said something to the effect that he’d hit me on the head with a frying pan and while I’m kayoed and insensate, he’d basically twist and tug and pull my arm practically out of its socket. This was fine by me as long as I was actually kayoed. So this is exactly what he did. Though of course he used anesthesia instead of a frying pan!
Less than 12 hours later, it is difficult to put into words, the incredible feeling of being 90% pain free and being able to do all those things with my right hand which I was not able to for so long. Hesitantly, I reach out for that towel with my right hand, expecting the old familiar electric shock. It doesn’t come! I sliced up all the tomatoes and onions in the house just out of the sheer joy of being able to do it! I take a scrub to the kitchen sink and make it sparkle, just because I now can! I’m born again! I would do handstands it in a heartbeat if I could. It’s just been five days since the procedure and the 95% return of range of motion to my arm is just mind blowing.
So, for those millions suffering from a frozen shoulder, please consider this option of ‘manipulation under anesthesia- MUA’. It is not a heavily advertised process for obvious reasons but as a patient who's been through it, I would certainly plug its benefits. Conservative in approach, only one day in hospital and immediate relief. No expensive follow up physiotherapy, just ice pack applications and a few simple do-at-home exercises.