Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Frozen Shoulder

My left shoulder has begun to freeze. No, it's not something due to Calgary cold. No, putting on a sweater or moving to a warmer climate will not help. Frozen shoulder, medically known as adhesive capsulitis is a painful and disabling condition where your shoulder becomes increasingly stiff, unable to engage in a full range of motion without substantial pain. The pain is typically constant, getting worse with cold weather. I have that pain.

Frozen shoulder is usually a result of some sort of trauma which limits mobility. Over time a lack of lubricating fluid causes increasing stiffness in the joint. In my case the lack of mobility has nothing to do with trauma; it's ALS. The loss of muscle tone in my arms means that I am not actively engaging in full use of my arms. This loss of use is typified by my inability to reach upwards and the inability to rotate my arms through any sort of extension.

It makes sense that it would be my left arm that would experience this first. It is my left arm which is failing first, and fastest. The loss of muscle tone in my left arm is not just measurable, it's visible. If you were to inspect my arms, my left in particular, you would find flabby skin with withered muscle underneath. The freezing effect also helps explain the constancy of the pain in my left shoulder area. It is a combination of sore muscles and frozen shoulder.

The response to this condition is to add Range of Motion exercises for my arms. These exercises will ensure my shoulder joint remains lubricated, adding flexibility where my muscles are failing. We were going to start them today but the HCA wisely decided that the first time for these new exercises should involve a nurse, just in case something went wrong. I have enough pain in my life. I don't need more.

Range of Motion exercises have been keeping my legs flexible, my hips well lubricated. These exercises for my legs ensure my knees still bend, that my ankles rotate, that my toes straighten out. Actually the toes on my left foot don't straighten out. They are frozen into a permanent curl. We started ROM exercises too late for my left foot. I don't think we are too late for my left shoulder.


  1. Hi Richard,

    Below is a link to a documentary called "Under Our Skin" that I believe is worthy of watching. It is about Lyme Disease but also speaks of other neurological diseases including ALS, Parkinsons, Alzheimers and MS. I came across this documentary while researching ALS bc of my friend's current declining health situation. Perhaps this will benefit you in some way should you choose to watch it. It is very informative. If you have a couple of hours available between nurse visits, friends' visits, blogging and other things you have going on each day, please watch this. You likely have people who send you quacky miracle cures for ALS - this is not one of those. I was blown away by what I learned and bc of this documentary, my friend is now approaching her upcoming tests differently. I apologize in advance if my sending you this link offends you in any way. This is not my intention at all. I am sorry for your frozen shoulder pain and hope you find relief for that somehow and in some way very soon. Hugs, Rebecca (Charleston, SC)
    Here is the link to the documentary -

  2. Rebecca, please forgive my clumsy hands. I was going to Reply to your second comment but I accidentally hit Delete. This was completely unintentional on my part.

    With respect to Lyme Disease, I am well aware of it. I was tested for it. Twice. I asked my doctor about it, and how often they had seen it. My doctors were pretty explicit about the issue. I have ALS, no doubt.

    You might want to read this entry.