Understanding the nature of sudden shoulder pain

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – Imagine one day waking up in excruciating pain and suddenly being unable to raise your arm higher than your chest.

There was a time when Charles Edmonds couldn’t use his left arm to reach up and pull a cup off a shelf because the pain in his shoulder was unbearable.

“First thing in the morning I had to pick up instead of a t shirt like a shirt with buttons from the bottom because I couldn’t lift my arm more than this,” Edmonds said.

When it started affected his sleep Edmonds knew he needed to see a specialist and that’s when he was diagnosed with ‘frozen shoulder’.

“When someone develops frozen shoulder essentially their life stops because there’s so much pain in their shoulder than cannot function most activities of daily living,” said Dr. Jorge Gonzalez, head of Regenerative Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Fort Lauderdale.

Gonzalez said severe inflammation in the shoulder joint can lead to scar tissue.

Initially conservative treatments, including physical therapy, medications and injections are enough to provide relief.

When that fails, Gonzalez is able to help free patients from pain through a minimally invasive in-office procedure called hydrodilatation of the shoulder capsule.

“What we do is we identify some of that scar tissue under ultrasound and with a special set of needles we’re able to break it away we also inject some saline with lidocaine to numb up the should as we’re able to break away some of the scar tissue and that restores the motion and a lot of the patients functionality,” Gonzalez said.

Minutes after the procedure Edmonds was able to fully move his left arm again and eventually get back to playing tennis.

“You know when you go and look for medicine that’s what you look for, something painless and effective and this is perfect, really perfect,” he said.

Frozen should can be caused by sudden traumatic injury, surgery, physical or psychological stress and even underlying conditions, like diabetes but in many cases, there simply is no known cause.

It affects up to 20 percent of people over the age of 40 and is statistically more common in women than men.

About the Authors:

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.