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Pain In Both Shoulders (front) For a Year - 27 Y/o M

This all started about a year ago, with no prior injuries, when I simply leaned forward, extended my arm and picked up a glass off of the coffee table. I had an incredible stabbing pain in my right shoulder. For almost a month I couldn't extend the arm and lift up or out or I would scream in pain. Then the pain became duller but also developed symetrically in the left shoulder as well. The pain is in the "front" of the shoulders, but feels "inside". If you press a thumb in about 2 inches up from the arm-pit, the pain feels inside there.

I went to my Dr. And an orthopedic. Neither had great answers except stretches and phsyical therapy. I did that for about 12 weeks and it barely helped, if at all. I did get xrays and nothing major showed up except the ortho said I had a shoulder shape prone to some pain issues that strenthening should heal (but the therapy did nothing much).

The pain does vary in intensity from day to day. I'm writing since the past 3 days have gotten so bad again it's hard to shift and steer my car. Things like pushups or lifting something with the arm extended out or to the side are painful. No stretching or working out (aerobic or lifting) seem to really help (or hurt it more in the long run, for that matter). Rolling the shoulders forward is uncomfortable.

I am just fed up with this, and at 27 and having had no injury to my shoulders (and the fact that the pain is symetrical in both!) I am really worried and frankly am scared to think what i'll feel like at 77! Let me know if I can provide any more details. Thanks!
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replied February 1st, 2007
Experienced User
There are some cases in which we cant find any cause for the pain.
We can hope that it would go soon.
Good luck. :d
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replied February 8th, 2007
I too am experiencing the same symptons it appears that you are experiencing. The pain feels as if it originates inside the front of my shoulders (next to and effecting my pectorials). When I lay down the pain spreads down my arms effecting my biceps and triceps. It does not feel like it is an injury to my muscles or bones, per se, but they are definitely affected. I've never had any injury to my shoulders before this, or at least none that was of any consequence.

It all started a year ago when I was in hawaii on vacation. I was sleeping on a cot that was too small for me (don't ask) and I would wake up in the middle of the night with excrutiating pains in my shoulders and arms. During the day the pains would subside. After I got home from hawaii, the pains eventually went away. Then, about 2 months ago, a pain returned in one of my shoulders (not the same pain as hawaii). I thought it had something to do with my workouts. Anyway, I rested for a month, it seemed to get better, then all of a sudden it got worse again. Now it appears to have spread across my shoulder blades into both shoulders, causing me to think of my previous pains from hawaii.

I am currently rehabing the shoulders but they don't seem to be showing signs of improvement.

Does anybody have any idea what this could be? Im thinking some kind of nerve damage, but im no doctor.
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replied February 9th, 2007
Frozen Shoulder
Hi there. It sounds like you both might have "adhesive capsilitis" or frozen shoulder. It's a crazy thing, and (based on my cruising around the internet) not many people are talking about it, but a great many folks suffer from it.

I talked to a research doc/surgeon at ball state memorial hospital in muncie, indiana, and this is what he told me about frozen shoulder:

it's a condition that usually occurs after minimal trauma, and is very often linked to some sort of emotional trauma that happened within the past year. The latest thinking on frozen shoulder syndrome is that it acts as an auto-immune disorder, which is where the body attacks itself. The body attacks the shoulder capsule, causing inflammation, and laying down a huge amount of scar tissue in a very short time. (his direct quote was, "it occurs very rapidly--it's just amazing.")

the patient looses almost all range of motion, and is in a great deal of pain. During the first 3-4 months, there's almost nothing you can do about it--the body wants to continue to lay down scar tissue until it burns itself out of that first phase. Another awful thing about this syndrome is that it usually goes from one shoulder right over to the other.

Traditional therapies have been amazingly ineffectual. The "ultimate" answer is surgery, which this surgeon describes as "pretty brutal." essentially, the surgery for frozen shoulder is to just rip the muscles apart forcibly or cut the shoulder capsule, leaving behind a severely compromised shoulder system.

He told me about a newer therapy called "astym" which is augmented, soft-tissue manipulation combined with stretching and strengthening. (check out astym.Com) astym is designed to break down scar tissue to encourage the body's natural healing mechanism. It helps to get rid of all that excessive scar tissue created by the syndrome, and can ease a lot of suffering.

Here's the totally weird thing about frozen shoulder: after two years or so, it resolves itself most of the time. Apparently, the body will start to gradually re-absorb the excess scar tissue, and eventually the shoulder will be released from its prison of scar. Weird, but true.

Frankly, i'd rather not wait two years. I'd go see a physical therapist and ask about astym.

Hope that helps
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replied December 6th, 2011
I too have these shoulder symptoms. I originally thought they happened due to my Tae Kwon Do. Initially I was feeling it in my right shoulder and it then went away. I later realized that it may have been caused by doing forward rolls.

Anyway it came back a few months later and eventually spread to my left shoulder as well. I also noticed that I often crack my shoulders, kind of like cracking your knuckles, and I thought maybe that was the cause.

Whatever it is, it has been going on for about four months or so. I am reluctant to try astym because I had astym therapy done to my forearm when I had some "tendonitis". It really didn't do anything for me. It wasn't even pleasant. That's just my two cents.

One other thought I had was, could it be arthritis? I'm still looking at that during my searches, but I just don't know yet.
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replied December 6th, 2011
Especially eHealthy
jdsimpkins,

If your pain is located in the anterior aspect of the shoulder, it could be due to tendonitis of the long head of the biceps. There is a groove on the anterior aspect of the humeral head, which the biceps tendon runs in. At the anterior shoulder, there is a stout ligament over the groove, so the tendon is running in a tunnel there. It is a very common location for the tendon to be inflamed.

The inflammation causes swelling, which reduced the amount of space for the tendon. This causes increased friction, which causes more swelling, which causes more inflammation, and so on.

This can be treated, usually with antiinflamatories orally at first. Physical therapy can do ultrasound. In cases that don't respond, an orthopedic surgeon can use an injection of cortisone. In some cases, where there is a larger amount of fraying surgery may have to be done.


So, if the tenderness does not get better, you may want to have the shoulders examined by an orthopedic surgeon.

Good luck.
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