Orthopedics Community
What's wrong with my shoulder/upper arm?
About This Community:

This patient support community is for discussions relating to orthopedics, back pain, bone or joint pain, broken bones, hip or knee replacement, neck and shoulder pain, orthopedic surgery, spinal injury, sports injury, and tennis elbow.

Font Size:
A
A
A
Background:
Blank
Blank
Blank
Blank Blank

What's wrong with my shoulder/upper arm?

I currently have restricted range of motion in my left arm as a result of a slowly worsening condition that has been progressing for perhaps 10 months to a year. Please note that when I first noticed diminished range in this arm, it was so minor with no pain that I didn’t even know at the time that something was wrong and figured it was just a result of losing flexibility as I aged.  It is only the last 2 months or so that it has started getting worse to the point where I feel it is making everyday activities difficult. And pain is a little more present. Though I have yet to take a single aspirin or ibuprofen because of this.

I am 55 years old, in relatively good health with just minor allergies (hay fever, some mild food allergies, occasional hives) and basically only take a single aspirin a day for preventative purposes, plus  vitamins and occasional antihistamines. I haven’t seen a doctor yet because I have no medical insurance and money is very tight now.

Long Story:  About 10 months ago, maybe longer, I noticed that I couldn’t reach behind my back with my left arm like I used to before. Maybe range had diminished by a couple of inches. My right arm was normal with no decreased flexibility. There was no pain, and I just figured the problem with the left arm was reduced flexibility due to aging.

Then about 4-5 months ago, I noticed that the range of motion had reduced even more. Maybe a few more inches. Still no real pain. This basically only affected the ability to reach behind my back and wash it in the shower. Up until that time, it never entered my mind that something could be wrong with my shoulder/upper arm.

Then about a month ago, I noticed the loss of range of motion seemed to be progressing faster … or maybe it was progressing at the same rate as before but because the loss of flexibility was now so much more and has started to become a nuisance, it just seems that way. Right now, I would say I have lost about 10” of range in terms of being able to reach back and up behind my back.

I also notice the range of motion loss when I try to touch my right shoulder with my left hand, but this doesn’t seem as drastic as the loss of motion when trying to reach behind my back.

About a month ago, I started taking some extra-strength Glucosamine Chondroitin, two tablets a day, but my arm only got worse during this time. So now I’ve stopped the Glucosamine. A few weeks ago, I also tried some stretching exercises, to the point where I could feel pain, but my arm only hurt worse the next few days when I tried to reach with it. Perhaps stretching exercises are an answer, but I am afraid to make matters worse by forcing things when I don’t know the cause of this.

When I press in around the surface skin of my shoulder or upper arm, nothing hurts, so whatever is causing this is deep down inside. Also, where it hurts when I try to extend my arm is the upper arm/bicepts area, and not the shoulder area. At least that’s what it seems like to me, though my concept of anatomy is hazy so it could be my shoulder. I don’t recall ever having an injury to my shoulder/upper arm that could have precipitated this.

Does anyone have any idea what could be wrong? Are there any suggestions for treating this myself? Am I  in the right forum? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
Related Discussions
13 Comments Post a Comment
Blank
1632539_tn?1357008058
I have frozen shoulder syndrome in both shoulders. I would go see a ortho doc if you could. I have had mine for about 10 months as well. I am in PT and it is helping. I can get my left arm up my back and over my head now. My right arm is still a little more angry. But it could be Rotator cuff tear. or bursitis. Its worth a check.  I hope this has been of some help

Blank
Avatar_n_tn
Hi kbug. Thanks for your reply. What was the source of your frozen shoulder?

As I said, I don't have medical insurance now and can't afford the range of tests they'd probably put me through. Can you describe the type of exercises they give you in physical therapy? Do they stretch you until it's painful.

I can do some exercises myself, even if it hurts. The only thing I'm worried about is making things worse. Is that possible if I push myself too hard?

What kind of prognosis did the doctor give you?

Blank
1711789_tn?1361311607
Hi there!

Well, there could be several possibilities to the situation like dislocations, fractures, muscle/ ligament/ tendon injuries, nerve impingent/ damage, muscle strain causing stiffness, inflammations, myositis, bursitis, capsulitis, arthritis etc.; though inflammatory conditions would generally cause tenderness. Unless a cause is diagnosed, it would be inappropriate to suggest a treatment plan. I would advise seeing an orthopedician, or atleast a primary care physician and get a few basic tests such as x-rays done. Aside a physical examination, a complete evaluation may require a few more tests such as imaging studies like the MRI, routine blood tests, EMG, nerve condition studies etc; if suggested on a physical examination. Management again would depend on the cause diagnosed and may include medications, surgical repair in severely injured cases or fractures, physiotherapy etc. Meanwhile you may try hot fomentation and OTC NSAIDS and see if they help.
Hope this was useful.

Take care!
Blank
4523085_tn?1355865662
Hi I had frozen surgery a year ago and went thou p/t for 4 mons and had a pulling min at home to pull my arm up and down for 3 weeks and many shots for pain and now I still can't get my arm behind my back or throw a ball or touch my right side with ourt servere pain and when I rotate my arm It pops and then servre pain I have tried shots and steaching nothing is helping had mri and it showed nothing this pain is horrible and now I can't put no pressure on my left arm or shoulder. Anyone know what this is? Thanks
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Is the pain just down from the shoulder joint?

If so you may want to check to see if your neck is not out.  I know it sounds odd but having your neck out can give intense pain in the upper arm, I know I have it.  You'll need to see a chiropractor and probably for a couple of days a week for at least a month.

I'm currently having this in my left arm and am going to the chiro, I had this in my right arm and intense chiro manipulation cured it.

You may want to look into acupuncture, don't ask me how it works only that it does.

Hope you can get this fixed
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Is the pain just down from the shoulder joint?

If so you may want to check to see if your neck is not out.  I know it sounds odd but having your neck out can give intense pain in the upper arm, I know I have it.  You'll need to see a chiropractor and probably for a couple of days a week for at least a month.

I'm currently having this in my left arm and am going to the chiro, I had this in my right arm and intense chiro manipulation cured it.

You may want to look into acupuncture, don't ask me how it works only that it does.

Hope you can get this fixed
Blank
317787_tn?1373214989
This is very helpful, I am experiencing pain in my upper arm/shoulder, I can not reach behind me without suffering terrible pain.  I am also having pain in the upper arm bicep/tricep kind of like where you would receive a vaccine.
I am going to try a chiropractor
Thank you
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
HI, I have noticed something very similar over the years. It started out as pain in my upper arm. It is located between the two muscles. This has bothered me for years, figured I was sleeping on it wrong. Last week it flared up so I took ibuprofen and the pain went away and I could move my arm. I worry that the movement damaged something because this week the pain is excrutiating. Now, I can't even move my hand past my hip. I can lift the arm with some discomfort, but can't button anything behind me. Nor can I button something in the front then twist the article of clothing around. The twisiting takes about 15 minutes due to pain and lack of strenght. If I massage the arm muscle, my last two fingers tingle then the fingers curl and the entire arm aches. I also have pain in my clavicle and shoulder. I have noticed over the last few years a diminish in strength and range of motion on my ENTIRE right side and I am right side dominant and used to have incredible strength and muscle mass. I am afraid to take anything for pain because I worry that movement will cause further damage.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
Please let me know if you got reasonable results as I have same symptoms as you. I'm skeptical of surgeries for these kinds of things and would see a chiropractor at least first anyway.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
please let me know if things are any better now for you, because I have similar symptoms as you do and I am at the point of exploration as to WHAT to do next. Other than go to the GP and start with a routine check. I just want to get to real heart of the problem instead of all the ordeal of what physicians put you through now days, just to generate a bill. I am just 60 and too young for this bologna... got things to DO ! If ya know what I mean.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
UPDATE:  I really thought I should update my original post because the problem has resolved itself.

Sometime after I first posted on this forum, I started to do a series of shoulder exercises.  I did them pretty faithfully, almost every day for about 3-4 weeks when I started to notice significant improvement. I continued for another month or two with the exercises and my shoulder continued to improve.  Perhaps about 4 months after starting the exercise regimen, my shoulder was 90% better.

Right now it is 100% healed.  I am not sure if the exercises did it or they just coincided with the shoulder getting better on its own. I am almost positive I had "frozen shoulder" and I read that it can resolve itself over time.

I had this thing for over a year. It slowly got worse until more and more movement was restricted, but it never got painful enough that I had to take aspirin or ibuprofen. But It was unpleasant.

I am so happy now that I have been totally pain-free for quite awhile now. I don't do the shoulder exercises anymore but I have written them down and if I ever experience this frozen shoulder again, I will start on the exercises immediately. When I did the exercise, I would stretch my own arm/shoulder to the point where it would hurt.

I never went to a doctor for this as I didn't have medical insurance at the time. From some of the horror stories I've read regarding surgical treatments, I'm kind of glad I avoided any major medial intervention.

I believe I got the exercises from the web. You can find some of these exercises in books such as "The Healthy Shoulder Handbook" and there may be other books that concentrate on the shoulder as well.

I did the exercises for just about 15-30 minutes a day.  

So if anyone has "frozen shoulder" you should definitely try an exercise regimen.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Hello Christine! I am the new Orthopedic Community Leader. That was a great story! Can I refer any future "frozen Shoulders" to you if they are contemplating surgery? I am a Orthopedic Surgical First Assistant and I have helped to arthroscopically release tissues around the shoulder joint many times (over the last 25+ years). I think if they all worked it like you, we wouldn't have had to take so many people to surgery. Thanks for sharing!
Have a great day!   JD1963
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Oh I don't know about that " if they would have worked it like you, so many wouldn't have had surgery"  Sometimes it works depends on what the problem is or causing the joint to freeze. I have suffered with Frozen shoulder 4 times. IT *****!  it did not help that I tripped over the dog and fell off the porch on to it (go ahead laugh, our porch dog doesn't move) Anyway, when I fell I separated my shoulder and broke my collarbone NOW im in real agony, seeing surgeon tomorrow. So it is my belief once you have frozen shoulder   its a touch and go sometimes it comes back and sometimes it exacerbates things in the future..  My first frozen shoulder HOLY COW, exercise it NO WAY! I couldn't move it for 3 months it was a slow process to unfreeze  Im glad the young man found relief  but I don't think it was frozen shoulder, frozen shoulder does resolve itself but not that quick  could have been a bone spur  but frozen shoulder is excruciating pain  I have a high tolerance to pain  I used to be very athletic, I have broke every bone in my body  never needed pain pills too much but the aging process is brutal :)  
Blank
Post a Comment
To
Blank
Weight Tracker
Weight Tracker
Start Tracking Now
Orthopedics Community Resources
RSS Expert Activity
233488_tn?1310696703
Blank
New Cannabis Article from NORTH Mag...
Jul 20 by John C Hagan III, MD, FACS, FAAOBlank
242532_tn?1269553979
Blank
3 Reasons Why You are Still Binge E...
Jul 14 by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank
242532_tn?1269553979
Blank
Emotional Eating: What Your Closet ...
Jul 09 by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank
Top Orthopedics Answerers
Avatar_m_tn
Blank
JD1963
Little River, SC
7721494_tn?1408157057
Blank
philnoir
Four Corners, CO