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I injured myself...

Posted by Sam 
Sam
I injured myself...
November 03, 2010 06:11AM
...helping my dad by handing him heavy boxes up above my head into his attic. I didn't feel anything at the time but the next morning I woke up with intense pain in my left shoulder. That was about 4-5 months ago and now I have what is known as frozen shoulder, limited range of motion, intense difficulty getting comfortable enough at night to get a good sleep and occasionally forget that I can't movie my arm in certain ways and almost faint from the pain. I have diagnosed myself with rotator cuff injury. I don't have insurance and have researched enough to know it would cost thousands of dollars just to get an official diagnosis and the treatment is often months or even years of physical therapy to avoid surgery. Here's where I need advice: has anyone ever experienced this sort of injury and what can you recommend that I do to "fix it" myself? Should I keep it immobile or work on my range of motion to the point of stress or what? Any input would be greatly appreciated as this is limiting my physical functioning in some ways...
Anonymous User
Re: I injured myself...
November 03, 2010 06:43AM
Sam,
I sustained an injury to my right shoulder as a result of a tug of war at a company picnic. This was about 15 years ago. Unlike you I noticed my injury within minutes. But I had the intense pain you mentioned. I wasn't close to fainting, but I had lie totally flat on my back on a picnic table. My wife me drove home and all I could do was go to bed. It hurt to move my shoulder and arm for several days or more. Unlike you, it wasn't four or five months for 90% of what I did. I think I used a sling for awhile. Eventually, after the major pain subsided, I realized that I had limited motion. The main limitation was that I could not throw overhand. I had to side arm everything. Not expecting to become a quarterback or a pitcher, and having lousy insurance, I lived with the injury. I had some problems lifting over my head, but I don't do a whole lot of that either.

But lo and behold, after about ten years I eventually regained the full use of my arm, and now I can throw overhand and lift heavy objects again. I spoke with a doctor friend about it years after the fact, and he said that the I probably had rotator cuff injury. I had a piece of torn cartilage floating between my joints, acting like a pebble between gears. Eventually that loose piece dissolved or was worn away. Do you have a "clicking" when you move your arm in certain positions? I did.

I followed the advice of the doctor in the old vaudeville routine. "Doctor, it hurts when I do this..." Doctor: "Don't do that."
Sam
Re: I injured myself...
November 03, 2010 07:36AM
Thx for the input, Curt. It helped reassure me that there's hope I can just wait it out until Medicare, if needed, kicks in...13 more years...lol..I do have kind of a clicky feeling sometimes and definite nerve impingement. If I relax my shoulder all the way, it feels like it's falling out of the socket a bit and that hurts so I stay tense most of the time trying to keep it up where it belongs. It's exhausting and causing pain to my neck and back from the tension. Even if I had insurance I would be hesitant to go to doctors who would charge so much just to be told what you said "don't do that", a waste. I hate getting old. Just can't bounce back like I used to. Did that doctor happen to mention whether it's better to baby an injury like this, keep it as immobile as possible, than to work it?
Anonymous User
Re: I injured myself...
November 03, 2010 08:12AM
We didn't talk about babying the injury or not, because by then I had fully recovered. On Wednesdays, tomorrow, I run with another doctor friend, my GP. I'll try to bring up your case and get his opinion. The Brits had (and presumably still have) a good website to trouble shoot medical issues. It's like my selector, it recommends if you should seek medical attention, take an asprin, ignore it, etc. Go to [www.nhs.uk] Maybe it can diagnose your situation. Also you might not have to wait for Medicare if the new health care program kicks in sooner.
Sam
Re: I injured myself...
November 03, 2010 06:34PM
Thank you!
Anonymous User
Re: I injured myself...
November 03, 2010 07:56PM
Sam,
Physical therapy isn't rocket science. It's mostly just disciplining yourself to do the recommended exercises. I had a runners' injury and my doctor friend sent me a link to some physical therapy exercises which I did religiously. Ice was involved too. I forgot the name of the site, but it was easy to Google and find it, it was a clinic's site. Assuming your self-diagnosis is correct, you might be able to find an exercise that you should be doing. I haven't heard from the doctor friend today, but I'll talk with him soon, certainly within the next few days.
Sam
Re: I injured myself...
November 03, 2010 09:05PM
Yeah, Curt, I have gleaned quite a bit of conflicting advice on all those medical sites. I can follow a regime for healing easily if I know the best way. I ordered a kit yesterday that contains a weighted ball system for exercising and a brace to wear at night which is when it's at its worst for me. I tried some light weight exercises myself and it's excruciating so I wonder if I'm re-damaging it each time I push it to the limit...I appreciate your attention, concern and help. Right now I just mostly keep it immobile. Luckily I can still type smiling smiley
Anonymous User
Re: I injured myself...
November 03, 2010 09:25PM
I wonder if you have some sort of repetitive strain injury, not a rotator cuff injury. I recently had a carpal tunnel injury as the result of installing five rooms of wood flooring. It hurt so badily I couldn't sleep more than a couple hours at a time without the fiery pain in my wrist and hand waking me. Immobilizing my wrist in a splint at night was what cured it.
Sam
Re: I injured myself...
November 03, 2010 10:54PM
I'm pretty sure it's rotator cuff. I did not do much repetition of moving the heavy boxes up over my head, believe me! I'm sure I tore something although I didn't feel a thing until the next day. That's one of the diagnostics for rotator cuff injury, that the pain of the injury may not set in for hours or days afterward. Anyway, I'm still functional so that's the important thing, eh?
Anonymous User
Re: I injured myself...
November 03, 2010 11:23PM
Sam,
I just completed a four mile run with my doctor friend. I described your case as best I could. I inadvertently said you self-diagnosed it as carpal tunnel, to which he said it might be possible that the pain radiated up into your shoulder and/or it was compensation injury but neither was likely. Realizing my error, I immediately corrected myself and said you thought it might be rotator cuff. That he said was very likely. He said he's had a rotator cuff injury himself from cross-country skiing. In particular from the reaching and planting of the ski poles with every slide. In his case, it went away on its own. He's 44 and this happened a few years ago. His rotator cuff injury didn't last as long or sound as severe as yours. He said he swims a couple times a week to avoid and prevent future RC injuries. RC is usually the result of doing something that you don't do often e.g: lifting boxes, cc skiing, etc. He seemed to think that babying it so as not too aggravate the injury was smart and appropriate.

He also said you might have tendinitis. Not surprisingly, he thought you ought to see your primary care physician.
Sam
Re: I injured myself...
November 04, 2010 01:10AM
Wow, thank you so much, Curt, and thank your friend for me, too! I really appreciate!
Re: I injured myself...
November 04, 2010 12:39PM
YAY! -- Sorry to be selfish ... I read through Curt's responses hoping that he wouldn't nail it so that I could be first to give you the treatment grinning smiley Isn't humanity awful?

Anyway ...

I had/have the same problem. The pain in my rotator cuff can get pretty intense, and with the 'clicking' I was seriously afraid I had a bone tumor or something.

I happened to mention it to a co-worker -- with insurance, who actually gets to see a doctor -- and he said he'd had the same problem. Doctor's diagnosis/ advice:

A nerve has become pinched in your rotator cuff.

Hold your left arm straight out, fully extended. Then start rotating your arm in a tight circle. In other words, like you're making an "O" in the air with your extended fist.

It honestly astounded me how quickly this works. I have to repeat it as often as necessary (from time to time during a day), but it consistently works.

I also started making "8" with the arm, and that seems to work even quicker.

Let me know how it goes.
Sam
Re: I injured myself...
November 04, 2010 04:55PM
Lol, thanks, Pale! The kit I ordered shows just such exercises using a system of weighted balls on a cable which you use to to strengthen the muscles around the injury to compensate for its inability to work correctly. The sample I saw showed someone holding their arm straight out, holding the end of the cable, and making small circles with the ball. Did your injury keep you up at night? I'm not a back sleeper and that's really the only position I can lay. My preferred position is on my left side so that's out because it's my left shoulder. When I lay on my right side, gravity naturally causes my left arm to fall across my body which is so painful. Ugh. I refuse to take pain pills which is what every one of my friends has offered me! Your input has given me more confidence this kit might do the trick for me. Thanks for your concern, My Friend! I hope you are doing well, btw. Miss you around here.
Re: I injured myself...
November 04, 2010 05:35PM
I had an injury similar to Sam's in both arms. I'm not sure what caused the problem in my left shoulder. Ironically, I think the most likely explanation is that it was caused by an exercise I occasionally do to loosen up my shoulders where I raise both arms fully extended straight up over my head like I'm reaching for something that's just out of reach. When I do this exercise, my shoulder and neck joints crack like when you crack your knuckles. It feels great. But I think one time I overdid it. Anyhow, there were certain motions I couldn't perform without intense upper arm and shoulder pain, like when you get into your car and reach for the door handle to close the door. The pain lasted about a year and a half until it gradually got better.

Then within a year, I sustained a similar injury to my right shoulder. This time, I knew exactly what caused it. In April '08, I tripped over uneven pavement while jogging and used by right arm to brace myself when I fell. Certain movements would cause excruciating pain; sometimes it felt like an ice pick was being jabbed through my bicep. Often it would come on while I was just sitting motionless. I put up with the pain for about 6 months before I saw my doctor, who sent me to a physical therapist. I have a lousy health care plan; each session cost $50. Because of the cost, I only went to one session, but that's all I really needed because you perform the exercises at home anyway.

Anyhow, she said that I had a frozen shoulder and gave me the following exercise which I was supposed to perform several times every day:

Stand facing a wall, and place your hand against the wall. Then move your hand up the wall until you can't raise your arm anymore without severe pain. A little pain is okay - you want to push your limits some, but not too much. Repeat 10 times.

I didn't do the exercise nearly as much as I was supposed to, but my arm gradually returned to normal about a year and a half later.
Sam
Re: I injured myself...
November 04, 2010 06:47PM
You guys are giving me great hope that I can handle this injury on my own. The stress of trying to decide whether or not to spend thousands of dollars on diagnostics, etc. is gone! Thank you so much, PttP, for sharing. The car door thing! Precisely one of my limitations. Once while driving I forgot and when a pack of bikers rode by, I stuck my arm out the window to flash the peace sign and the wind caught my arm causing pain so intense that I immediately felt sick to my stomach and got dizzy like I would pass out. Fortunately I didn't as I was going 70 mph down the highway but I did cry!! Lol! I will start those exercises immediately. Thanks again, Everyone!
Re: I injured myself...
November 04, 2010 08:01PM
Glad to help, Sam. The bad news is that you probably have about another year until your arm is back to normal. The good news is that it will get better, even though sometimes it seems like it's never gonna get better. So hang in there, girl.

Your story about flashing the peace sign reminds me of countless incidents when I forgot about my shoulder problem and tweaked it. Once I was at the grocery store and accidentally knocked something off a shelf and instinctively reached to catch it. The resulting pain just about brought me to my knees. Being that I'm right-handed, those kinds of incidents happened frequently with my right shoulder injury.

As Mick Jagger sang, "What a drag it is getting old".



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/04/2010 08:02PM by PowerToThePeople.
Sam
Re: I injured myself...
November 04, 2010 09:53PM
Lol! Yep, I'm so glad it's my left arm as I'm right-handed, too. smileys with beer
Re: I injured myself...
November 05, 2010 01:36PM
4:30 AM: Up with horrible rotator cuff pain. What is this, fukking revenge?
Sam
Re: I injured myself...
November 05, 2010 05:18PM
Revenge for what and by whom, Pale? Hope you get to feeling better! Just knowing time will heal this wound makes me feel better already. Literally. The stress created extra tension in my neck and back and that's gone! Deep breaths, Pale!
Re: I injured myself...
December 08, 2010 10:02PM
Sam, you have my deepest sympathy. I have the same problem (right shoulder) and I can't describe the pain when I move my arm the wrong way. My wife often tells me I moan all night long and I tell her I wasn't moaning I was moving my arm trying to briing it down from the pillow and I was owwwwwwing in the process. I sleep with my arm curled under my pillow until I can no longer take the pain.

I have insurance but am too big a baby to get the operation. I hear it's very painful.
Sam
Re: I injured myself...
December 09, 2010 05:22PM
Don, Once I learned from compadres here that I probably would not be re-injuring myself if I exercise my shoulder, I started using this system to self-treat and I have to say after the past month or so that I feel a vast improvement. I'm doing the same exercises for my other shoulder as well so as to strengthen the musculature to prevent future injury. The brace I wore at night took a bit of getting used to but truly alleviated my pain almost completely. I had been suffering excruciating pain for months and losing sleep before I started this system. I know, I sound like a commercial. Anyway, good luck! [www.rotatoreliever.com]
Re: I injured myself...
February 22, 2011 10:24AM
I didn't read the entire thread, so not sure if you've got the necessary advice. All I wanted to say was that curing a frozen shoulder need not cost money. My sister-in-law had it and the exercises advised by the physio cured her of the ailment.

Maddie
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