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Old 09-16-2011, 08:16 PM
freckafree freckafree is offline
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What's wrong with my shoulders?

Let me preface all this by saying that I've seen a doctor and I'm currently undergoing physical therapy, and I go back to the doctor at the end of the month.

About two months ago, I started developing pain in my shoulders when I did things that involved outward rotation. A sudden movement like trying to fling a bug off my arm or catch a piece of paper falling off my desk was/is excruciating. The pain is in the meaty part of my upper arms. It started out being much worse on the left, but now both shoulders are about the same, the left having gotten better and the right worse.

I can't for the life of me think of anything I've done that could have precipitated this. I was using a backpack for my biking commute, so I switched to panniers, but that doesn't seem to have made a difference.

My shoulders don't hurt except if I move the wrong way. The PT seems to have improved my range of motion and resolved some stiffness (that I'm not even convinced is related to the other issue), but the stabby pain hasn't improved.

Based on my X-rays, which really didn't show anything glaringly obvious, the doctor thought I had some shoulder impingement. She put me on a 6-day course of prednisone (which did pretty much nothing), followed by a week of an NSAID. Meh.

The physical therapist wasn't really buying the shoulder impingement diagnosis after she did a more thorough examination with all the range of motion tests. I have some, but not all, of the symptoms of a rotator cuff injury. For example, it doesn't hurt for me to lie on either shoulder at night.

So here I am, three weeks later, and not really a whole lot better -- although the exercises may be helping me achieve my goal of Michelle Obama arms.

Anyone want to hazard a guess about what could be causing the shoulder pain and why it's not improving with PT?

Last edited by freckafree; 09-16-2011 at 08:17 PM..
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  #2  
Old 09-16-2011, 08:22 PM
Ambivalid Ambivalid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freckafree View Post
Let me preface all this by saying that I've seen a doctor and I'm currently undergoing physical therapy, and I go back to the doctor at the end of the month.

About two months ago, I started developing pain in my shoulders when I did things that involved outward rotation. A sudden movement like trying to fling a bug off my arm or catch a piece of paper falling off my desk was/is excruciating. The pain is in the meaty part of my upper arms. It started out being much worse on the left, but now both shoulders are about the same, the left having gotten better and the right worse.

I can't for the life of me think of anything I've done that could have precipitated this. I was using a backpack for my biking commute, so I switched to panniers, but that doesn't seem to have made a difference.

My shoulders don't hurt except if I move the wrong way. The PT seems to have improved my range of motion and resolved some stiffness (that I'm not even convinced is related to the other issue), but the stabby pain hasn't improved.

Based on my X-rays, which really didn't show anything glaringly obvious, the doctor thought I had some shoulder impingement. She put me on a 6-day course of prednisone (which did pretty much nothing), followed by a week of an NSAID. Meh.

The physical therapist wasn't really buying the shoulder impingement diagnosis after she did a more thorough examination with all the range of motion tests. I have some, but not all, of the symptoms of a rotator cuff injury. For example, it doesn't hurt for me to lie on either shoulder at night.

So here I am, three weeks later, and not really a whole lot better -- although the exercises may be helping me achieve my goal of Michelle Obama arms.

Anyone want to hazard a guess about what could be causing the shoulder pain and why it's not improving with PT?
The area sounds like the supraspinatus tendon of the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is made up of four small muscles, and the supraspinatus is in the rear. It doesn't sound like you have a complete tear but perhaps you have a small rupture in it which is causing the pain (and maybe possibly you have bursitis). You won't know anything definitively one way or another until you have an MRI. Xrays dont see soft tissue.
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Old 09-18-2011, 07:22 PM
freckafree freckafree is offline
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Originally Posted by jamiemcgarry View Post
The area sounds like the supraspinatus tendon of the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is made up of four small muscles, and the supraspinatus is in the rear. It doesn't sound like you have a complete tear but perhaps you have a small rupture in it which is causing the pain (and maybe possibly you have bursitis). You won't know anything definitively one way or another until you have an MRI. Xrays dont see soft tissue.
The PT mentioned the supraspinatus, too. I'm guessing the doctor will order an MRI next time I see her, unless I undergo some miraculous improvement over the next ten days.
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Old 09-18-2011, 10:55 PM
Digital is the new Analog Digital is the new Analog is offline
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If it's a small tear, it may not show up on an MRI without contrast. I had this done once..they injected saline in my shoulder before the MRI. As it happened, I didn't have a tear. But now we know.

I'd comment that 3 weeks isn't overly long for physical therapy. The muscles involved are small and weak, and may take time to build up.

My normal pattern..and I've done this way too many times to count..is a month of PT..then go back to the doctor reporting no improvement...then an MRI to confirm that nothing is torn..then another month or two of PT. Then I'm better.

(Except this time, when they tell me it may take another three months..for a total of 6!!! But no tears in the knee.)

Keep at it. Ask questions..understand what you're doing..but keep doing it. It's a long process.

I hope you feel better soon!

-D/a
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Old 09-19-2011, 02:04 AM
Ambivalid Ambivalid is offline
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And ice is a miracle-worker; learn to befriend it.
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Old 09-19-2011, 02:39 AM
Hilarity N. Suze Hilarity N. Suze is online now
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Some years ago I got this horribly named thing called Insidious Onset Adhesive Capsulitis, (aka Frozen Shoulder) but it only affected one shoulder. No insurance at the time, so I bypassed the doctor, bypassed the MRI and went straight to a physical therapist who'd helped me a lot on the other shoulder (which was an actual rotator cuff injury). I thought it was the same thing--it felt the same. Key diagnostic question: can you put your hand in your back pocket? (I couldn't. Either time.)

According to one of my PTs, IOAC is very common in women aged 40-60 and one of the PTs found a bunch of highly technical medical stuff about it going away with supplemental estrogen, but you had to be taking the good kind of estrogen, not the bad kind. (Frankly this medical stuff was over my head; I didn't know there were two kinds of estrogen.)

I got in there before mine was actually frozen and PT helped within three weeks and I was good as new within 6 months. Two PT appts per week and lots of exercises with weird little weights (like one-half pound dumbbells).

(Insidious Onset sounds terrible, but it just means there is no known cause.)
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  #7  
Old 09-19-2011, 10:40 AM
beachbetch beachbetch is offline
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As a former sufferer of bilateral shoulder tendonitits...Bio-freeze is amazing. PT, ibuprofen, tramadol and Bio-freeze. Good stuff. The only time it flares up now is if I lift shoulders.

I love lifting shoulders.

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Old 09-19-2011, 12:01 PM
Roderick Femm Roderick Femm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilarity N. Suze View Post
Some years ago I got this horribly named thing called Insidious Onset Adhesive Capsulitis, (aka Frozen Shoulder) but it only affected one shoulder. No insurance at the time, so I bypassed the doctor, bypassed the MRI and went straight to a physical therapist who'd helped me a lot on the other shoulder (which was an actual rotator cuff injury). I thought it was the same thing--it felt the same. Key diagnostic question: can you put your hand in your back pocket? (I couldn't. Either time.)

According to one of my PTs, IOAC is very common in women aged 40-60 and one of the PTs found a bunch of highly technical medical stuff about it going away with supplemental estrogen, but you had to be taking the good kind of estrogen, not the bad kind. (Frankly this medical stuff was over my head; I didn't know there were two kinds of estrogen.)

I got in there before mine was actually frozen and PT helped within three weeks and I was good as new within 6 months. Two PT appts per week and lots of exercises with weird little weights (like one-half pound dumbbells).
(Insidious Onset sounds terrible, but it just means there is no known cause.)
I had exactly the same thing in my right shoulder, never did figure out what caused it. Three months of PT and specific targeted exercise took care of it. FTR, I'm male so estrogen wasn't, presumably, a factor, but I was 60 when it happened.


Roddy
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  #9  
Old 09-19-2011, 03:42 PM
sitchensis sitchensis is offline
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What a coincidence, I just made an appointment this morning to go see the Doc about my shoulder. My pain feels like it is in the joint on the back side, it is a constant dull throbbing that makes it hard to sleep at night because no matter what way I turn, it still hurts.

I was assuming bursitis or tendonitis but I’m really interested to keep reading this thread.

I don’t remember injuring it, but because I fall down a few times a day with my job it could be anything
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Old 09-19-2011, 07:14 PM
Ambivalid Ambivalid is offline
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Originally Posted by sitchensis View Post
What a coincidence, I just made an appointment this morning to go see the Doc about my shoulder. My pain feels like it is in the joint on the back side, it is a constant dull throbbing that makes it hard to sleep at night because no matter what way I turn, it still hurts.

I was assuming bursitis or tendonitis but I’m really interested to keep reading this thread.

I don’t remember injuring it, but because I fall down a few times a day with my job it could be anything
I have two torn rotator cuffs, from chronic overuse (I have to use my arms for everything, most notably pushing my wheelchair). While the injuries are in slightly different areas in each shoulder and my left shoulder is the one which gives me the most day-to-day functional difficulties, my right shoulder actually has a deeper tear and my symptoms for that shoulder sound very similar to yours here. Again, it sounds like the supraspinatus.

I can get through the day pretty problem free as far as my right shoulder goes, but as soon as I lay down at night the throbbing starts. I must sleep on my left side at all times. My tears are to the point where my only option left is surgery. I've had numerous MRI's, been to physical therapy a few times, been on anti-inflammatory drugs (for too long) and iced my shoulders four million times. That plus my training in the gym evolved to focus on ways to work around the injury and strengthen the surrounding muscles, as to compensate for the damage. I have been able to avoid (delay) surgery for years with this approach. Sadly, I know I am only delaying the inevitable. It's an inevitable that terrifies me, though.

Last edited by Ambivalid; 09-19-2011 at 07:15 PM..
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