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RESOURCE: Frozen Shoulder


Frozen shoulder is one of the diabetes complications that is often not mentioned.  The blog DiabetesMine just published a good post that discusses what it is, why it happens and how it can be treated.  Check it out!


Have you heard of frozen shoulder before?  Is it something you have dealt with?  Please share your thoughts and experiences with us.

posted Apr 18 in Resource by KarenG (16,340 points)

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9 replies

I've had not one, but TWO frozen shoulders!  I had never been told it was a fairly common diabetes complication until I was diagnosed with the first one.  With the first one, I chose to treat it with physical therapy, OTC pain relievers, and patience.  It got better very slowly, but after a couple of years was back to normal.  With the second one, I did not want to go through all that again, so I chose surgery and physical therapy.  Three years after the surgery, I still do not have full use/extension of that shoulder.  Hindsight being 20/20, I wish I had not decided to have the surgery and just endured it as I did with the first frozen shoulder.
answered Apr 20 by bayleafbroker (1,450 points)
Wow, bayleafbroker, I'm sos sorry to hear the surgery wasn't successful.  Thank you for sharing here, so others can keep that in mind when making their own treatment choices.

I haven't been formally diagnosed, but I believe I had frozen shoulder a couple of years ago.  I chose to let it thaw naturally (i.e.: ignore it).  It is much better now but I do not have full range of motion back.
answered Apr 24 by KarenG (16,340 points)
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I did not know about frozen shoulder till I had it.  Unfortunately at the time they just gave me a few exercises and said it would go away in 6 months.  At the time physical therapy was being used only after surgery, It only got worse and I had frozen shoulder in both shoulders after a few months.  After physical therapy for months it got much better but the one shoulder never got back full range of motion.  Recently 10 years later I noticed the bad shoulder was starting to give me trouble.  I recently completed physical therapy and it is almost back to where it was before this event.
answered Apr 25 by Pump1fun (1,770 points)
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I was diagnosed with frozen shoulder several years ago, but I have NEVER been told it is a diabetes complication! I have been a Type 1 diabetic for 47 years, so I think I would qualify for some complications! . Thankfully, I am past the most painful stage of it when I was not able to sleep because of the pain. I got a steroid injection even though I knew it could raise my blood sugar. I experienced some relief after the injection, but the doctor refused to give me a second one because I scared him by almost passing out from the pain! I can live with the range of motion I now have, but I'd like to keep it from becoming less mobile again.
answered Apr 25 by Jezme (160 points)
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Thanks for sharing that, bayleafbroker. I am currently suffering from frozen shoulder and managing it with cup therapy, exercises at home, OTC medications, and patience.
answered Apr 26 by anna (2,890 points)

Thanks Karen; the DiabetesMine post gave a good summary of this annoying phenomenon.  I first experienced frozen shoulder in my early 50's, after living 40+ years with Type-1. I've been pretty fortunate to escape most of the serious complications of diabetes (e.g. eye, kidney and circulatory problems), but have experienced other connective tissue problems such as carpel tunnel.  As the shoulder pain got worse, I saw an orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed rotator cuff injury and wanted to operate! Not liking that option, I found another doctor who told me about frozen shoulder and said it would last for a while but would improve over time. Physical therapy did not help me much; I just had to be patient.

When I started to develop symptoms again several years later, I discovered a book called Frozen Shoulder Workbook, by Clair Davies, NCTMB.  This guy used Trigger Point Therapy for overcoming pain and regaining range of motion.  It's an excellent resource that really worked for me.  Once the pain and arm movement limitations start to present, the book explains how to locate remote trigger points in your own body and shows you several methods for massaging them.  My frozen shoulder originates below my shoulder blade, and for me it's very effective to self-massage by placing a lacrosse ball against a solid wall, locating the point, and moving back & forth for several minutes. There are other self-massage devices available; all is described in the book.  It really works for me!

answered Apr 26 by anonymous
I began experiencing extreme pain and loss of function in my right shoulder and went to an orthopedist. The doctor diagnosed it as frozen should and said it is more common in women over 50 and T1Ds. I am a woman, had just turned 50 and have had T1D since age 6. So - bingo?  I had surgery that was effective but needed to go back for a manipulation under anesthesia due to scar tissue that had formed and gave me the same symptoms of pain and poor function in the shoulder. I also did about 8 weeks of PT. My pain subsided and almost all function returned.
answered Apr 26 by janmosso (1,460 points)
I've had frozen shoulder, twice.  Once in each shoulder. . .my orthopedist warned me that after the left shoulder returned to a normal range of motion (with the help of hydroplasty), that it would probably happen to the other shoulder. (He said because I was a woman, a type-one diabetic, and over 40 years of age, I was at a higher risk.) The first time I had shoulder pain, I let it go too long. hoping the pain would just "go away."  It didn't and it only got worse.  FYI: My doctor approved of me scheduling time with an approved acupuncturist to reduce pain--and it REALLY dialed down the pain.  I still had physical therapy and took anti-inflammatory drugs. When my right shoulder began doing the same as the left--years later, I treated it as soon as it reared its excruciating "head." The period of time for both of these frozen shoulders was many months long each, the first one more than a year, easily.
answered May 2 by Ann B Hursey (860 points)
I had frozen shoulder on the left side a few years ago.  I did all the things:  PT, massage, dry needling, steroid injection...nothing.  I went to and acupuncturist and mixed with nutritional therapy it cleared up!  I don't have full range but have never had good ROM in my shoulders so I'm not surprised.  Now the right is frozen and I'm doing the acupuncture and nutritional therapy again and I'm already thawing:)  I was told after diagnosis that it was diabetes-related.  I had never heard that before and I work in healthcare so I was surprised!
answered May 7 by moon (370 points)