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a different type of summer vacation

Been dealing with some shoulder pain for over a year now. Yesterday I went back to my doctor again. He noticed that the muscle behind my left shoulder looks like it has atrophied. Since I am on vacation for the next two months, he suggested that I attend this special orthopedic rehabilitation training program. He told me that this program uses cutting edge training techniques that include the use of an ARP (Accelerated Recovery Performance) trainer, a type of electrical stimulation device, although it really isn't regular electrical stimulation. I figured why not. Anything to make the pain go away.

I attended my first session today. At this very moment, I am in so much pain that even my fingernails hurt! I was warned yesterday when I went to fill out a bunch of paperwork and sign up for the program that this was a very intense type of therapy. I figured it couldn't be any tougher than that first day of therapy after having my shoulder manipulation procedure done. Was I wrong!

When I arrived, I was asked a few questions, the trainer looked at the little dent in my arm and then he checked out my range of motion and brought over the arp machine. I told him that I have had electrical stimulation during acupuncture sessions in the past. He smiled.

He hooked up the two pads to wires and then put one of the sticky pads on my upper back right behind my shoulder and the other pad along the side of my arm right below my shoulder (where the dent is). He turned on the machine and told me to tell him when it started to feel intense. For a second it tingled and then WHOA it was very intense. He told me to raise my arm a few times. This would help my arm get used to the electrical stimulation. He said that the electrical stimulation was at level 2. He asked me if I thought I could take a little bit more. The machine goes up to 10. I told him to go for it. He moved the dial again. When it felt intense, I told him to stop. I asked him what number it was on. He said 2 1/2! I thought for sure he must have moved it to at least 4 or 5. To make me feel better, he did say that not many people tolerate it all the way up to 10 when the pads are on shoulders.

He walked over to get one of the colored weighted exercise balls. I recognized them from physical therapy. I hate those balls! He was carrying a green ball, which was 2 pounds. I was hoping for the yellow 1 pound ball. He demonstrated the first exercise for me. Three minutes was the goal for this first exercise. I don't think I even made 20 seconds before I had to stop and rest.

By the end of the first exercise (I didn't even get to my other arm yet), sweat was pouring down my forehead. The session had just begun and my arm already felt like I had done a three-hour work out. I ended up doing only 5 exercises total in one hour. The first three exercises were 3 minutes per arm and the last two were 2 minutes per arm. He did finally go get that yellow ball for my left arm but continued to have my use the green ball for my right arm.

The trainer was very kind and patient throughout my session. He joked at one point asking if I would be returning for my second session. He also warned me that tomorrow I may be a little sore. I think he was being optimistic. I could barely lift my purse out of my locker when I was done. My arms were shaking. I told him that I felt like my arms just ran a marathon. For the past six hours, I have barely moved off of my couch.

My next session is Saturday. This certainly is turning out to be a very different summer than my usual trip to Italy. Wish me luck.

*Update: I am happy to report that I survived my second session. I now feel like I ran 1/2 a marathon instead of a full marathon. Just to clarify, it is not a shooting type of pain, just really really sore from working out really hard. I am thinking very positively that eventually I will be in shape and my shoulder will be healed. I appreciate everyone's kind words and support. Thanks!

Comments (13)

Oh my gosh, this sounds so intense. Best of luck to you. I hope that when it's all over, you'll be glad you went through it because the pain will be gone. Hang in there!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Girasoli, I'm sorry to hear about your constant pain and especially about the pain you endured in your therapy session. I hope it works out for you and your shoulder gets healthy. On the bright side of things, with a healthy shoulder you will have no problems handling your luggage on your next trip to Italy...and that's always a good thing considering all the stairs at the Italian train stations. I will never forget running through those tunnels , up and down those stairs in (I think Empoli or La Spezia) with our 31 inch luggage in 2005. :)

Best of luck on your treatments and let us know how you are doing.

OMG! That sounds horrible! I am such a baby, I would never last thru one treatment. I guess it's worth it if your arm improves, but surgery might be less overall pain.

I will be thinking about you . . .


Whoa-- this sounds like torture! You have been through so much pain, I'm so sorry to hear that it's not over yet.

I hope this doesn't interfere with your photography this summer. But as Kathy says, if it helps you to become stronger and ultimately pain-free, so you can run stairs with luggage, it will be worth it!

Owwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. I hope it helps!!

That does sound intense. I hope it helps. At least the new medicine has helped.

Thanks everyone! I am a real wimp when it comes to the strength in my arms. Even though I held the javelin record in high school (something that really amazes me), I could never beat the weakest person on our team in arm wrestling. I trust my doctor though and know that if I work really hard, finally my muscles should be stronger which should then help reduce the pain in my shoulder. Surgery sounds like a cure but even with surgery comes pain and then PT so I am hoping I can avoid that route. The medicine helps a little but unfortunately only for the constant pain when my arm is at rest.

I love the idea of having these huge muscles to lug my suitcases down and up those train stairs!! ;)

Hi G: Sorry for your pain and the procedure does sound painful. I am one that thinks you shouldn't have to tolerate pain. I certainly hope the result is that you are able to restore your strength and be painfree to handle suitcases and towers :-) At least you have faith in your doctor and this rehab he's suggested for you. Wish you less pain.

PS: I think my son entered the correct field of pain management.

Oh my, that just sounds so painful, I truly hope going through all of this, will in the end, bring you to new strength and be pain free. I hope you can still get out and enjoy the summer and take some photos with your new camera!!

Stay strong......

I am happy to report that I survived my second session. I now feel like I ran 1/2 a marathon instead of a full marathon. Just to clarify, it is not a shooting type of pain, just really really sore from working out really hard. I am thinking very positively that eventually I will be in shape and my shoulder will be healed. I appreciate everyone's kind words and support. Thanks!


Oh honey, hope it improves and the treatments do the trick for you!

Wow this sounds really intense but I am happy you have survived a few sessions and that the second one left you slightly less exhausted than the first one! I have a shoulder/neck problem myself and it is not fun! When I was in Bologna in May I used the elevator in the train station for the first time, just cause my suitcase had gotten so heavy with all the purchases. That meant at least one less place to haul that thing. Good luck with the rest of the sessions!!

Amy, thanks! I think I have gotten over the hump with the shock of the hard workouts. I am starting to like them even though they are really tough. My shoulder/arm still is hurting (same pain as when I started) but I have only attended 5 sessions so far.

Chiocciola, sorry to hear about your neck and shoulder pain. sandrac told me about that elevator but I could not find it when I was there. Glad you were able to take advantage of it. Good to hear from you.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 3, 2010 9:45 PM.

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