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frozen shoulder - part 2

I scheduled my shoulder manipulation procedure for the day before election day, which ended up working out great. I was so nervous about the election that it helped me not obsess on my shoulder manipulation procedure. My procedure was scheduled to take place at noon. I really don’t get that you can’t eat/drink anything after midnight no matter what time your procedure is scheduled... 6 am or 12 noon. Makes no sense. But since I am generally a rule follower, I made sure not to eat or drink anything after midnight.

After arriving at the hospital and filling out some paperwork, I was brought into the pre-op area. While the nurse gave me my cute little gown, paper booties, and cap to change into, she mentioned something about having a big needle inserted in my neck to numb my shoulder/arm. That was the first I heard about needles (besides of course the IV needle). I thought I was just going to get some mild anesthesia since there was no cutting involved and the entire procedure would only take 10-15 minutes. She immediately noticed the panicked look on my face. She told me that getting the block (the big needle) was up to me but she highly recommended it saying that it was much easier to do the manipulation this way. I think my reaction was mostly due to the fact that I was not prepared for any big needles.

While obsessing about the big needle, another nurse came in to take my blood pressure. It was extremely low. If I remember correctly now it was something like 65 or 70 over 50 with 50 being the number she was concerned about. My blood pressure is always low but never that low. I think my hunger and anxiety might have had something to do with it. She waited a few minutes and then took it a second time. It went up enough to be ok. Thank goodness. I really wanted to get this over with and did not want to have to come back another day to have it done.

The anesthesiologist came in with the big needle to give me the block, which would make my left arm and hand completely numb. He described what he would be doing and then stuck this big blunt needle slowly into my neck (into the front of my neck on the left side right by that little pocket by my collar bone) while a nurse slowly pumped liquid in though the needle. I started to feel a cold feeling move slowly down my arm. I think I remember needing to tell him when I felt it reach my fingers. He told me that pretty soon my arm would be numb. He put up the railing so that my arm would not fall off the bed and then hung a sign, which I think had something to do with my numb arm.

Now anyone who knows me knows that I am usually a big wimp when it comes to pain, but I am proud to report that the anesthesiologist told me that he was surprised at how well I did when he administered the block. He told me that when he administers the block to football players, they always handle it much worse than I did. That made me feel good.

Because my left arm was completely numb (very strange feeling) and my right arm was hooked up to the pulse ox thingy that they put on your finger, I could not reach the TV to change the channel on the TV to catch up on the election news. My bed was located right in front of "the board" where all the surgeries were listed, which meant everyone hung out in that area. I thought about using the call button or calling out to someone to ask them to change the channel for me, but they were all busy discussing how to make the schedule work since my doctor was running late and I felt pretty silly bothering them just to ask to have the channel changed. I tried to move the TV with my foot, but that didn't work either. Instead, I kept busy listening to everyone try to rework the board to accommodate my doctor who was running late. As long as my procedure was not pushed back further once he arrived (my procedure was scheduled first), I was ok. I did not want that block to wear off.

Finally, after enduring about 25 minutes of the medicare commercial and spending most of that time trying to move my arm and fingers with my mind (a very strange feeling to have your arm/hand/fingers completely numb), a nurse stopped in to give me an update on when I would be taken in. While she was there, I asked her if she could turn the channel for me.

I was much happier being able to watch the election coverage. Right before my doctor finally arrived, the breaking news that Barack Obama's grandmother passed away was announced. I fell completely apart. Tears came pouring out uncontrollably and then one minute later everyone arrived to take me away. I quickly got my act together and was whisked off. I didn’t want them all to think I was freaking out about the manipulation procedure.

As I was wheeled in to the operating room, my doctor started the manipulation procedure right away. I remember sitting part of the way up as my doctor raised my left arm slowly up towards the ceiling. I heard this cracking noise. Sort of a crack crack crack as he slowly lifted my arm (I imagine the noise was the scar tissue, adhesions, and sticky stuff breaking up). It was a very strange noise. Meanwhile the anesthesiologist was putting something in my IV and telling me that I should be feeling something very soon. As my doctor continued to move my arm in different directions, I distinctly remember telling the anesthesiologist that the anesthesia was not working and that was the last thing I remember.

The next thing I remember was waking up with a not so friendly nurse sitting next to me. She seemed to have one goal and that was to move me out of there as soon as possible. She brought me some guava juice and graham crackers and then told me to get dressed. My left arm felt like a dead weight. She had to help me with my clothes and then put my arm in a sling. Everyone else was so kind. I guess my luck ran out when I went to the post-op area. My guess was that because my doctor was late and all of his surgeries got backed up, she needed to keep things moving, but still, she could have been a little more friendly.

I was instructed to keep my arm in my sling until the block wore off. When the block started wearing off, the intense pain began. I didn’t feel pain in my shoulder as much as in my arm and hand. It felt like an intense pins and needles feeling that you get when your foot wakes up after going to sleep. I took my percocet and slept for a few hours. I woke up in time for the 6 o’clock news. There was a lot of news on Obama's grandmother. More tears.

I slept well that night, waking only once (but that was my usual election anxiety...check the news, check the internet sites, and then go back to sleep). The amount of pain I felt the following morning was pretty much the same as before the manipulation procedure. The only pain pill I took so far was when the block first wore off.

PT ended up being very painful that first session, but they were less and less painful as the sessions went on and I almost ended up with full range of motion by the end of therapy.

For more information on Frozen Shoulder - check out this website.

Comments (22)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Girasoli, your frozen shoulder sounds pretty painful. I'm afraid of needles too so I can relate to your reaction to that. Glad to hear that you handled it very well and better than others.

Enjoy your Memorial Day off today!


I was all scheduled for that manipulation procedure last fall, but the doctor needed to push it back until my stupid insurance approved it. Then it was to be just before Thanksgiving, and we were going away, and I thought,"How will I put up 5 Christmas trees?"

I postponed it until January, and in December, the pain MAGICALLY went away, after 14 months of frozen shoulder and lots of PT. Two people told me that as long as there was no rotator cuff injury, if I left it alone it might just go away! You were brave!

I am SO excited we will meet you in San Diego!


Girasoli, this sounds so extraordinarily painful. I have no fear of needles generally, but the thought of a big one going into my neck is absolutely chilling. (Because I have a lot of neck problems, I suppose -- I'm very worried about that.)

What did they do during the surgery, more manipulations, breaking up old scar tissue, that kind of thing? Do you think this might eventually reduce your migraines?

I returned to the chiropractor last week because I can no longer move my neck, and saw the X-rays today. Things look pretty nasty, and involve the shoulder as well. Not pleasant to deal with.

Thanks Kathy. The pain I am experiencing now is not as bad as it was when my shoulder first froze as long as I keep stretching daily. It is just one movement/angle that produces pain. I am hoping it gets resolved or at least improves before my trip.

Palma, I am sorry to hear that you have had to deal with a frozen shoullder. Do you have full range now? Great to hear that you did not have to have the manipulation procedure and it resolved on its own. Make sure to keep stretching. I am thinking about going to the San Diego GTG. There are still work issues I need to figure out first.

sandra, I should have mentioned that the needle went into the front of my neck, left side right by that little pocket by my collar bone. Once that was over, the procedure was a piece of cake. There was no cutting involved so no surgery really, just moving my arm around in all positions breaking up the adhesions and sticky stuff. My PT described it as a jagged cut around the adhesions without actually cutting (more like tearing it all apart). Sounds horrible but I didn't feel anything. Just the pain and swelling afterwards. It worked though. I did regain pretty much all of my range of movement and the pain went away (until recently).

So sorry to hear that you are having more neck problems. What is going on? Has your spinal cord fused?

Barb Cabot:

I'm a bit behind but sorry to catch up and read that you had to endure this pain. I hope the San Diego GTG trip is possible. I'd love to meet you. It'll be a blast.

Sounds painful. I don't like needles either - especially big ones and in my neck! M


Yikes! I don't think I could do that big needle! I almost didn't get married because I had to have a blood test.

How much time do you have before your trip?

Thanks again everyone!

Barb, I am really hoping I can make it to San Diego also. Still need to see what is happening with my job first before committing.

menehune, the needle was pretty scary but now I don't even remember the pain from it so it couldn't have been that bad. I think the thought of it was scarier than the actual needle itself. Either that or time erases memories.

nancy, I think it is a good thing I did not know about that needle until I arrived at the hospital. I am wondering now if my doctor left out that part of the procedure on purpose! Glad you got married even though you had to deal with a needle :)

I see your countdown clock is at 27 days....sure hope that you'll be much better by the time your trip is here.


Girasoli, I have to say that even without cutting, your procedure still sounds pretty horrible!

My neck isn't great -- it is losing its natural curve and that can lead to the vertebrae fusing together. So I'm definitely getting to work on fixing that!

Annie, I am hoping 27 days will be enough time to recover and if I am still in pain, I will just have to eat more gelato to take my mind off of it!

sandra, I think it sounds much worse than it was. My recovery was not bad either. Just a few days of pain and then the healing began, which was so nice after months of pain while it was freezing up. I am continuing to exercise and stretch and will be sure to not let up.

Girasoli, Just reading the part about the large needle going into your neck, made me feel faint. I really hate needles, and I have had to have so many shots for my migraines, but still fear them. How brave you were!!


barb cabot:

On my way to teach/sub a special ed. class this morning. Thinking of you...how are you feeling? Hope you are okay. Anyway just wanted to let you know you are in my thoughts. Ciao Bella!

Terry (teaberry):

Both my husband and I had partial rotator cuff tears in the past. My doctor told me that 75% of these tears will heal spontaneously - but it would take 6-9 months!!! You know what - he was right. It's a long time to live with a limitation and pain on certain movements, but in my mind, it was better than surgery.

Glad your frozen shoulder OR experience wasn't too bad. It sounds like you've received very good care, aside from that one snippy nurse.


I join the group in hoping that your shoulder problems are certainly less painful by the time your trip rolls around. After your first surgical experience, I imagine you are not eager for another one. Good luck, and yes, I do hope we will be meeting next March in San Diego.

Sandra, thanks so much for your comment. I really hate needles also.

barb, I hope you had a fun day! I really love my class this year and am starting to feel sad about my year ending since most of my children are moving up to K next year. Thanks so much for thinking of me.

Terry, that is great news that 75% heal on their own if that is what is going on. I really do not want surgery. 6-9 months however is not great news. I am really afraid I will tear it more if it is a tear while traveling. I guess my doctor will be able to let me know more when I see him. The frozen shoulder experience (or at least part one if what I have right now is another frozen shoulder) was most painful before the surgery and then the first day after surgery when I had my first PT appointment. The manipulation procedure for me anyways was definitely worth having. I healed and regained my range very quickly.

Marcia, thanks! Yes I am definitely not hoping for more surgery. I am also not very patient with pain though so when given the choice of waiting months or a quick fix, I often choose the quick fix. I really do hope San Diego will work out!

This all sounds so painful, Girasoli! I remember you wrote about it earlier and it sounded awful. I am getting PT for a shoulder/neck injury myself, it seems to take forever but at least it is helping. My PT is fantastic!

BTW, there is a centrally located laundry place (self service) in Bologna. I think I paid 7.50 for one load, wash and dry, with soap. It is on Via Petroni, right before it hits Via Zamboni (so basically Piazza Verdi.) A lot cheaper than the hotel at least, and the washers were big.

Sandra, your neck thing doesn't sound good either! We should make a club!

What a surgery you had to go through, and the unfriendly nurse, that is horrible.


Sorry to hear about your shoulder... I do know how you feel. Hurt my shoulder at work from one of my patient who twisted my arm back in Jan. After 4 long months of PT my assign dr. is going to do the same surgery. Being a nurse I don't mind giving needles, but to get one that's different. I am a very small petite person and now worry. As for my doctor he must not believe in pain meds. Gave me a scribt for celebrax after asking for something for the last 4months.

Chiocciola, I am sorry to hear that you are also experiencing shoulder/neck problems. Glad your PT is helping! Hey we could have a club! Thanks for the tip on the laundry place in Bologna!

candi, thanks. It seems so long ago now. I would do it again though if I had to. I am very grateful that I have my range back.

cathi, thanks for your comment. I would try to get better pain meds for right after the manipulation procedure. I was prescribed darvocet but since I already take that for my migraines, I wanted something stronger and asked for percocet which worked wonders! I probably only took 6 or 7 total but it was very helpful the first few days, especially to sleep at night and after my first PT session.


I just had manipulation done on my shoulder and it was a piece of cake.....I never felt the needle go in my neck. I now can move my arm and shoulder. With a few therapys I should and will be on the mend. As far as meds go Advil works for me in stead of vicaton.........good luck to anyone else who has this done

ann, thanks for the comment. Glad it was a piece of cake. I would do it again rather than try to unfreeze it with just therapy. I have pretty much all of my range back now except for one position (but before my frozen shoulder, I was extra flexible, so now that position is just normal range like most people). Glad you didn't need to take heavy duty meds. Keep up with your therapy.

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