Bad and good news!

I spent most of today having a shoulder injury (well, what I thought was a shoulder injury) diagnosed. Two doctors, plus a visit to a rehab specialist.

I'm an exercise nut, and among other things I do a minimum of 120 consecutive full-motion pushups on alternate days (with stands, and feet elevated), plus a minimum of 50 consecutive pullups. I've done daily exercises for years, but a few weeks ago, pain began in my left shoulder without any precipating injury, and it got worse -- to the point where reaching behind me (to put on a coat or fasten a seat belt) was excruciating. This seemed to fit the symptoms of a rotator cuff injury, but I couldn't figure out how I injured myself. So today my doctor referred me to a sports medicine specialist who diagnosed the problem as adhesive capsulitis

. . .a condition of "unknown etiology characterized by gradually progressive, painful restriction of all joint motion . . . with spontaneous restoration of partial or complete motion over months to years."
(More here.)

I'd never heard of this before, but I don't need surgery, and I was told that because it was caught early (in the "freezing" stage), assuming I do the exercises they've prescribed, the shoulder will return to normal with no permanent limitation of motion.

I was sure I'd suffered a rotator cuff injury and I've heard horror stories about them. I'm glad I didn't follow the recommendations to stop all exercise which causes pain (I had already stopped the pushups and pullups, hoping that the rest would help, which it didn't). I can and will return to my full exercise plus the new stretching routine.

It's a good lesson in the importance of going to the doctor rather than attempting self-diagnosis. These things are tricky to diagnose -- even for specialists, and the guy I saw today sees nothing but shoulders.

As to the cause, no one knows. A few months of torment, and I'm sure I'll be as good as new.

Just having an answer feels better.

posted by Eric on 03.07.06 at 08:12 PM


"120 consecutive full-motion pushups on alternate days (with stands, and feet elevated), plus a minimum of 50 consecutive pullups."

That's friggin' insane. I can barely squeak out 50 consecutive chest to ground push-ups on my BEST day, and FIFTY CONSECUTIVE PULL-UPS is even more insane... Kudos to you...

You might consider taking some glucosamine and chondritin- I know a lot of guys who had joint problems form doin brazilian jiu jits until they started taking those supplements.

Also, Super Joints by Pavel Tsatsouline has some great routines designed to keep your joints healthy...

Harkonnendog   ·  March 8, 2006 6:32 PM

I hope you get well soon.

David Ross   ·  March 8, 2006 9:13 PM

My mom had bursitis— similar though not the same, It took her much longer to overcome the problem because they didn't catch it early, and she spent the better part of a year in pain. She's fine now.

Glad you caught it early. May your recovery time be short.

B. Durbin   ·  March 8, 2006 9:34 PM

Thank you all! I think being in shape to begin with will give me an advantage.

Eric Scheie   ·  March 8, 2006 10:56 PM

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