What Is Frozen Shoulder Pain Like?

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Individuals suffering from frozen shoulder are no stranger to chronic pain, restricted mobility, and sleepless nights. The stigma associated with frozen shoulder contributes to the misery and  despair. 

If you suffer from chronic pain you are not alone.  Millions of people across the globe can relate.  This type of pain is especially difficult to endure. It persists because the nervous system continues to fire and send messages to the brain. 

The statistics for this debilitating condition are sobering:

  • Chronic pain can last for six months or more
  • There are four main types of chronic pain
  • Your chances of experiencing chronic pain increase with age
  • Most adults need medical attention for chronic pain
  • 10% of people in the world experience chronic pain
  • Chronic pain victims get 42 less minutes of sleep a day  
  • Overdose kills more Americans than guns

Reference from Geek Health Journal

 

5 Types of Pain With Frozen Shoulder

Shoulder Pain

Pain is the best known symptom of frozen shoulder. The discomfort resides in the nerves of the shoulder region and musculoskeletal tissues. These two can become painfully intertwined. 

The freezing stage is associated with the highest degree of pain, lasting anywhere from six weeks to one year or more.

Frozen shoulder pain begins as a dull ache with increasing intensity over time. I felt like my shoulder joint was being jabbed with a hot metal poker. It “was on fire.” Pain radiated down my arm. Reaching up or sideways was excruciating. Dressing was next to impossible. This type of discomfort was new and took my breath away. 

Neck Pain

Because the shoulder and neck are closely connected, neck pain often accompanies shoulder discomfort. Reduced mobility exacerbates the pain.

The pain that ran from the base of my neck to my shoulder joint and down my arm was intense. I was shocked by what felt like an electrical current zapping me with intense discomfort. 

Night Pain

Most patients experience more pain at night from increased inflammation and compressed nerves because of pressure on the arm during rest. 

Night pain is particularly distressing. Insufficient sleep hinders healing. Our bodies marinating in anxiety can’t be good for us. I would wake with a gasp to an arm screaming with rage. Ice packs provided temporary relief. 

Stiffness

Reduced mobility and increased stiffness intensify in the frozen stage. Routine activities are difficult. The shoulder becomes frozen in a capsule of tight connective tissue.

In the freezing stage, pain was concentrated in the shoulder joint and neck. Discomfort has been noted to diminish in the frozen stage, but not always. The left side of my upper body felt like a solid block of cement. Any attempt to lift or rotate my arm left me unprotected and vulnerable to an assault of deep raw pain. 

 

Decreased Mobility

Any movements of the arm can become excruciating.  Lack of mobility causes additional scar tissue. The shoulder is literally frozen in place.  

Fear of pain becomes as debilitating as the force of pain itself. You are afraid to move. 

Many undergo surgery to break up the unrelenting grip. I would inadvertently bang or jostle my arm. The pain was intense and almost surreal. It felt like it was happening to someone else. The angry red scar tissue did not wish to be disturbed. 

ZINGERS

Zingers are like bee stings or zaps, and common with frozen shoulder. I would describe a zinger as a burning, shocking, squeezing, or cold prickly sensation that comes out of the blue. Ice packs help with zingers.

My Experience of What Frozen Shoulder Pain Is Like

After two plus years, I felt isolated and misunderstood. Others doubted my suffering. Many presumed I was weak. 

Medical professionals were quick to dismiss frozen shoulder as a mysterious affliction that disappears with time. I was slipping deeper into a state of depression and disbelief.  What was happening?  I experienced lightning bolt pain across my upper back, down my arm, and into my fingers. It was a bizarre mix of life changing symptoms. I was desperate for relief.

The pain and disability of frozen shoulder may affect job security, finances, emotional, mental and physical health, self-confidence and social activity.

Many experiencing the pain of frozen shoulder are set adrift in a sea of uncertainty and dysfunction, without sufficient support, or effective strategies for pain management. 

ADVICE

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My pain was unrelenting. I couldn’t sleep, dress, shower, wash, cook, clean, or drive my car. I did, however, receive a great deal of advice.

“Wrap a towel around the shower rod and use it to stretch your bad side.”  I remember clenching my teeth to muffle a scream. It was sheer agony. A routine dental check revealed a mysteriously cracked molar. I declined an explanation.

I slipped on our basement stairs. I grabbed the hand rail with my bad arm to prevent a complete tumble. The pain stole my breath. “Well it is a good thing really, you probably tore some adhesions and saved yourself from surgery.” Really?

Treatments for Frozen Shoulder:

Physiotherapy

It is alway wise to seek professional help. Qualified personnel will work on stretches, exercise, and assist with pain relief.  A physiotherapist will gradually increase the range of motion threshold to ensure optimum healing. Balancing exercises are also important to reduce injury to other parts of the body. 

 

Pain Relief

Non-prescription medications like ibuprofen and aspirin help to reduce inflammation and encourage mobility. Maintaining movement will assist in a positive recovery.

Corticosteroid Injections

A needle with medication is inserted into the shoulder joint. This assists in reducing pain and inflammation for several weeks to months. A commitment to consistent exercise will help to continue to break up scar tissue and provide relief from stiffness.

Surgery

When other treatment options have been unsuccessful, surgery may be recommended. Scar tissue is removed from inside the joint of the shoulder. Post-surgery physiotherapy is recommended to ensure the restoration of a full range of motion. 

Final Thoughts

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You are not alone. Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis is not uncommon. Statistics suggest that a staggering five to twenty percent of the population will suffer from the pain and dysfunction of a frozen shoulder. 

A frozen shoulder can take from one to three years to heal. Because of the significant daily pain and dysfunction, anyone experiencing shoulder discomfort is advised to seek a medical assessment promptly. This will ensure adequate support, professional treatment, and much needed pain management. 

Talk to your friends, family members, and your doctor about your feelings. Start a journal to record your thoughts and progress. There are many frozen shoulder support groups online, and helpful information. Keep moving forward. 

You have got this!

 

 

Featured Image Courtesy of UnSplash – Nikko-macaspac-6

Image 1 Courtesy of UnSplash – Thea-y3ZcWAgVph

Image 2 Courtesy of Unsplash – hannah-busing-Zy

This article is also published at 1funbirthday@medium.com

 

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