The pain in my right shoulder started out as a short, searing jolt extending down my arm when I would reach over to turn off the lamp on my nightstand. I thought it might be stemming from the way I was sleeping and as it progressively got worse, perhaps our mattress, because my back was tight when I awoke each morning.
So we bought a new mattress and box springs and my back soreness went away immediately, but unfortunately the pain in my arm and shoulder did not. In fact, all types of daily activities could make me feel like the nerves in my arm had been set on fire. In a matter of weeks, I could not raise my right arm in the air nor reach behind me without triggering an attack.
So I scheduled a Jan. 7 appointment with the Sports Medicine Clinic at Ascension Via Christi, where I was seen by Dr. Andrew Porter and his team of residents and medical students.
Although I hadn't injured it during any physical or sports activity, they are experts at keeping you in your game, whether it's on the court or field or in my case, just simply carrying out the activities of daily living.
After a brief physical exam and a CT of my shoulder, I had my answer: Adhesive capsulitis, more commonly known as "frozen shoulder," a condition that often takes six to nine months or more to address.
I also had treatment options: I could work with a physical therapist to regain my range of motion or I could kick start that process by having a cortisone injection in my shoulder before leaving the office. Or I could wait and do nothing until my condition progressed to the point that the only option was surgery.
While I am not a fan of shots, I also was tired of wincing every time I needed to reach for my seat belt or put my hair up in a ponytail. So I opted for the injection, which wasn't nearly as bad as I imagined, and working around my schedule, arranged to start physical therapy on Jan. 19.
On my first visit, Cassie Overton, PT, who sees patients at Ascension Via Christi Physical Therapy on Shannon Woods, passively stretched and gently mobilized my shoulder and put me through a series of exercises to build strength and mobility. She also measured by right arm flexion and extension to establish a baseline calculation. Thirty minutes later, I was headed back home, where I was to do a few simple exercises three times a day.
With each of my twice a week sessions, I saw major improvement in my measurements. More importantly, I was sleeping uninterrupted by the night pain that often is a hallmark of frozen shoulder, and could do more without pain reminding me of my limitations.
On Feb. 18, I had my final session with Cassie, whose assessment showed that I had achieved all my goals for restored mobility and then followed up later that morning with Dr. Porter, who was equally pleased with my amazing results.
With daily use and exercise, I should be able to go about my activities without further issues, for which I give credit to early intervention and treatment and a compassionate and skilled care team.
My advice to anyone experiencing mobility-limiting pain: Get help sooner rather than later and know that the Ascension Via Christi Sports Medicine Clinic and Physical Therapy Center is a great place to start.