Tag Archives: shoulder pain

Miscellany

Happy November, people! Only seven and a half weeks till Christmas – and only seven and a half weeks minus two days till my birthday, which is quite important too, I think.

odds_and_ends4I have just a few odds and ends today:

Halloween is over for another year, thank the powers that be. It was pretty quiet around my school – too quiet, now that I think of it. What did the kids DO with all their usual energy and high spirits around Halloween? They probably took it out on their ownneighbourhoods – lighting firecrackers, egging houses, wreaking general havoc. They didn’t do it around my house though. It was actually very subdued around here.

I have two lovely deep bruises from the dry needling and manhandling of my shoulder and armpit on Tuesday. One bruise is on the front of my shoulder, the other is right in my armpit. That’s a first. I’ve never bruised my armpit before. And my shoulder still feels a little stiff and sore. So the jury is still out on the efficacy of the treatment.

My latest friend with breast cancer turned out to be at Stage 1, so she’s had a lumpectomy and when she heals from that, there will be a course of radiation and then meds for a number of years. In the grand scheme of things, this is wonderful news. She emailed me when she came home from the hospital and said she was tired and sore, but absolutely fine. I’m so grateful!

The company that PG has worked for for the past three years has shut down. This was completely without notice, though PG did have an inkling that the jobs didn’t seem to be coming in the way they used to. They are finishing up one final job and then he’s out on the street. He does have a small private renovation job lined up for the immediate future, however, and he and two of his co-workers are seriously talking about the three of them doing inside renovation work together (the company was mostly doing huge outside jobs before – leaky condo stuff). PG would like that, but he doesn’t want to be the guy who finds the jobs and does the estimates. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt, he says, and it didn’t fit.

My car, my lovely dream of a BMW, has developed a super-annoying rattle on the passenger side. I am having a hell of a time trying to figure out exactly where it is – because, you know, if you can pinpoint the location of a nasty rattle, it doesn’t bother you as much. True fact. At first, I thought it was the glove box, so I rummaged around in there a million times. No change. Then I believed it was the air vents, so I mucked around with them. Again, no change. Then I thought maybe the passenger seat, or the seatbelt, but fiddling with them didn’t help. Then I moved on to the back seat, and I wiggled everything back there that could wiggle, to no avail. Now I think it’s somewhere in the door, so I’ve been pushing and pulling the door panel and handles. So far, no change. Even having my winter tires put on didn’t help. Plus, I’m almost sure that the rattle is temperature-related. It MAY be noisier in the morning when it’s colder outside – but then again, sometimes it’s just as noisy in the warmer afternoon when I’m driving home. I just don’t know. What works best right now is to crank the music. I’m afraid that I’m going to have to be that cranky old lady who takes her car in for servicing, demanding that they “fix that damn rattle – and no, I DON’T know where it is, that’s YOUR job to figure it out! If I knew where it was, I’d deal with it myself!”

Well. Here’s hoping for a good November!

Shouldering responsibility

I got discharged from physiotherapy last week. My physiotherapist pronounced my shoulder almost perfect. She felt that I had pretty much my full range of motion again. She said she really couldn’t find any more muscles that needed needles stuck into them to relax them. If there was a sharp, pinching type of pain, she admonished me to come back in for more treatment, but for now, I was good to go.

I was pretty happy about this, as you can imagine. I have been dealing with this painful right shoulder of mine rather intensively since last October, and it actually hadn’t been right for several years before that. I have had many chiropractic sessions, hours of massage therapy, and a whole whack of physio and intramuscular stimulation with the needles.

And let’s not even try to figure out just how much money I have spent on this issue in the past nine months. It’s got to be well in excess of a thousand dollars – maybe closer to two thousand? – and I won’t get all of it back from my insurance company. I will get a good chunk of it back, but although I sent in the paperwork right after my final physio appointment, I haven’t heard back from them yet. But I don’t really care, to be honest. I was in pain, I needed the treatments, I paid for the treatments, and I’ll get back what I get back. I’m so lucky to have a job that is well-paying enough and that provides me with an extended health plan that is good enough that I don’t have to worry overly much about the money.

So now that I have been deemed healthy again and no longer have to go to regular physio sessions, why do the muscles in my right shoulder continue to hurt a bit? I can move that shoulder properly again, but it’s rather stiff almost every morning, particularly the deltoid muscle (See? I actually DID retain some of the info that my physio tried to get into my little brain!), and it sometimes pulls uncomfortably when I lift my arm in certain ways.

I had told my physio about this during the last couple of appointments that we had, and although she wrote it down on my chart each time, she wasn’t terribly concerned about it. I mean, she DID discharge me, after all. Maybe it’s just residual pain that will work itself out as the shoulder continues to heal? Maybe this really was a true frozen shoulder and this is the latter part of the its two-year cycle? Maybe that’s just what happens at the conclusion of IMS? Maybe my shoulder will just be like this now due to the ever-wonderful ageing process?

Or maybe I’ve jumped back into near-daily workouts at the gym a little too fast? I suppose that’s a possibility, but I hope not, since I’ve really missed being able to work out so regularly. Well, just in case that’s the problem, I guess I won’t attempt any girl push-ups for a while longer. It might not be easy, but I think I can make that one small sacrifice, for now, just for the good of my right shoulder, you know.

Sticking it to me

It hasn’t just been kitchen renos and leaky toilets around here lately, just so you know. As a matter of fact, I have also been coping with a wonky right shoulder, too. Yep, renos and toilets and shoulders – oh my!

As you may recall, way back in October, my shoulder kind of seized up for some still-unknown reason. I literally could not lift my arm sideways more than about 10 cms. Everyday life was suddenly quite severely compromised.

I first went to my chiropractor. He thought it was bursitis and adjusted me a few times, but this seemed to make no difference to my shoulder. I still couldn’t move it much. I asked him if he thought maybe a massage would help. He thought it would, so I made an appointment with the massage therapist in the same clinic. (He also encouraged me to keep coming in for chiropractic treatments. I did not.)

The massage therapist wasn’t at all sure it was bursitis. He felt my symptoms were more of the rotator cuff nature, and a few were even those of a frozen shoulder. Either way, he was sure that regular massage would help me.

images-1So I began weekly massage treatments. Sometimes twice weekly. I did this from the beginning of November last year till mid-March this year. And it did help. My movement was returning, a little more every time I went in. I also had some home exercises to do, which I did not do totally religiously, but let’s say semi-religiously.

But came a time when my massage therapist said, “You know, there is something there that I can’t get at with massage. I have done all that I know to do with your shoulder, but you still don’t have full and painless range of motion. I think you need to try something else. Let me tell you about this technique called dry needling.”

Which he then proceeded to do. He even gave me the name of a physiotherapy clinic where it was done. He said he had a number of patients who had done this dry needling and had had fantastic, almost immediate results.

images-1“Okay”, I said, not having truly heard a word he said. “I’ll think about it.” Then I went home and googled it. I discovered that this technique is properly called intramuscular stimulation (IMS), and it is quite similar to acupuncture, except that the needle is inserted into the trigger point of a shortened muscle, which causes the muscle to twitch, then release and lengthen. It’s that muscle release that facilitates the instant mobility improvement.

This sounded promising, except for the whole needle thing. I’m not afraid of needles, per se, but I’ve never had acupuncture and so I was quite apprehensive. Did it actually hurt? How did it feel to have a thin needle sticking out of your body for a while? Did it ache afterwards? And most importantly, did it work?

So I did what any normal person would do: I polled all my friends and acquaintances.

And it was very soon apparent that I was the only person in my circle who hadn’t ever had acupuncture.

Well, my decision immediately got easier. I called that physio clinic and made that appointment. I certainly wasn’t going to be left out, oh no, not me!

My first visit was needle-free. My physio, a calm young woman called Naomi, carefully ran her (thankfully) warm hands over and around my shoulder to feel where the problem areas were, and said that yes, this was definitely a rotator cuff issue. She had me do a bunch of movements, and gave me some to practice at home. She assured me that all that massage had done me a world of good, and had, in fact, made her job easier. She also felt that the IMS would work quite well for me, but if I was very nervous about it, we could first do a session of straight acupuncture to see how well I tolerated it.

imagesTolerate?! This is something that must be tolerated?! Poor choice of words, I thought, but my second appointment was all about the acupuncture. And I seem to have tolerated it quite well. With flying colours, one might say.

There was just one needle, placed between my thumb and index finger that made my hand jump. It was an odd sensation, not exactly pain, but definitely a strong reaction. It was uncomfortable, a bit like a small zap of electricity, but of short duration. Naomi said that was pretty much what the IMS would be like. Again, I was concerned, because I didn’t really like that feeling.

But this morning, I went back for the actual IMS. Naomi stuck a needle into a specific muscle around my shoulder, wiggled it briefly, then pulled it out and did it with another muscle. She did this on six different muscles. And I barely felt any of it. It was absolutely nothing like that first jolt in my hand. This was a cinch!

And it worked. Now I can put my hands on my hips. I can put my right arm behind my back. I can lay down on my back and cradle my head in my hands.

And I am going back for more next week.