agony in shoulder after lifting cabinets

by carole
(be air, md)

Pinched artery and nerves in the interscalene triangle is one cause of a frozen shoulder.

Pinched artery and nerves in the interscalene triangle is one cause of a frozen shoulder.

Agony in shoulder after lifting cabinets, with loss of range of motion suggests a frozen shoulder.

I was helping my aunt by moving very heavy metal cabinets. Got to the 5th or so and felt an odd sensation, a tearing, then slow softening/release but I didn't drop the cabinet.

For three weeks there was an increasing discomfort which now, after three months has morphed into excruciating, relentless pain that progresses from sharp and unbearable to a grinding soul numbing burning sensation. As the pain has increased the frozen state has set in and locked my arm in place.

I've lost 50 percent in range of motion both front and side. They say this will get better. I've never known pain like this and the idea that this could go on for months perhaps years is impossible to comprehend. I'm going to PT now, taking ibuprofen, cold compress and praying for mercy. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.

Hello Carole,
You almost certainly have a frozen shoulder and, if so, you're not whingeing about nothing. It's an extremely painful and debilitating condition, often worse at night and disturbing sleep.

The burning pain suggests that you suffered a neurological injury; try pricking your arm and seeing if there are any numb patches, as compared to the other arm.

You make no mention of cervical spine pain; does it hurt if your turn your head to the side and then look up?

Other fairly common causes are a first rib syndrome affecting the whole brachial plexus; then the pulse in your wrist is affected. The diagnosis is made from Adson's test.

And then the collar bone often is jammed in the AC joint in the shoulder. In short there are many common causes and only a careful and thorough examination will locate the primary nodus of your pain. The subscapularis muscle is often extremely painful.

The first step is find out what the underlying cause is. The second is to keep your arm moving, but within the relatively painfree zone. At our frozen shoulder page you'll find some exercises. Do them faithfully, gently and regularly several times a day.

Something in your neck or the first rib is probably, but not necessarily the primary cause.

You will have to be patient, it won't come right quickly. I find that with chiropractic the pain is usually halved within a month, but regaining full range of motion, especially behind your back as in doing up your bra can take much longer.

I hope this contributes.

Dr B

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

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