This weekend I was talking to a friend about a shoulder pain she was experiencing, and I was showing her how to treat the muscles that move the shoulder. We got to talking about the websites for hand/wrist pain (carpal tunnel syndrome) and for aches and pains in the rest of the body, and then we started to talk about this blog.
She was asking me how I learned how to do the self-treatments, and I told her that I’d figured them out on myself because I had various accidents (car, skiing, etc.) or that I had to figure out how to teach my athlete clients so they could stop pain while they were in the middle of a long training session, or a race. She asked me if I’d ever told you, the reader of my blog, any of this, and I said I don’t think I ever did. So, thanks to Lane, I’m going to tell you, not all at once or you’d fall asleep , but every now and then.
Every single treatment that I do for people, and that I teach people how to do for themselves, came for a serious bout with frozen shoulder that I experienced in 1995. I had been traveling by train from Philadelphia to NY about every other weekend to visit with my family, especially to spend time with my baby granddaughter, Meaghan. She was only 6 months old at that time and I just couldn’t see her enough! I would have my “wheelie” being pulled by my left arm and my right hand would be holding the tickets, etc., etc. I knew my shoulder was getting stiff from pulling the weight, and I did go for a massage as often as I could, but time was an issue so it wasn’t that often.
One day I was in NY and we were stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway (actually the Long Island Parking Lot!), and although it was a scorching day in July, we had to turn off the air conditioning or the car would overheat. Meaghan was screaming from the heat, so I reached back and was patting her to calm her down, and she started to play with my bracelet. It kept her quiet, so I stayed that way for a long time. Thank heaven I wasn’t driving because when she fell asleep and I finally went to bring my left arm back, ALL of the muscles that insert into the shoulder totally locked up simultaneously! I couldn’t move it at all, in any direction. The pain was horrible! My shoulder was so locked up (technically called “frozen shoulder”) that my entire range of motion was 2″ toward the front, 2″ away from my body toward the side, and when I tried to move my arm backward, I couldn’t even bring my thumb behind the side-seam of my pants!
I went to every type of doctor I could think of, but no matter what they did, it didn’t work. They tried muscle relaxers, cortizone shots, physical therapy (ouch!!!), chiropractic adjustments, and I even tried acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. Nothing worked and the pain got worse and worse. The massage therapists I went to were going too light and I couldn’t convince them to go any deeper, and finally after three months of pain and dysfunction, I started to try to treat my own shoulder muscles.
It really hurt, but it worked. It took me a long time, partially because I had to figure it out as I went along, and partially because the muscles were so badly contracted that it took a long time for them to release. But they did release, and ultimately (after almost eight months) I had 100% range-of-motion and strength again.
To explain it all to you would be as interesting as watching grass grow, but if you have shoulder pain (including a rotator cuff injury), let me know and I’ll help you. A lot of the information is on my website, so that’s a great place to start if you have any chronic pain.
Wishing you well,