My World of Parkinsonian Delights

Adventures in Physical Therapy: Or, "Hey! I Learned Something NEW!"

Had my third physical therapy session of the week earlier today.  I learned that my sore left shoulder isn’t just a sore left shoulder.  It’s called “frozen shoulder syndrome” or “adhesive capsulitis.

Frozen shoulder, also known as periarthritis or adhesive capsulitis, is a syndrome  consisting of spontaneous onset of pain and progressive restriction of movement in a shoulder, in the absence of any demonstrable intrinsic joint abnormality. The onset is followed by a chronic phase in which the pain recedes but the shoulder immobility remains marked, and finally by gradual spontaneous resolution.

I also learned that it can be caused by Parkinson’s disease.

We have found that frozen shoulder is indeed a common complication of Parkinson’s disease, occurring in 12-7% of our patients. The incidence may actually be higher, but we were unable to be certain of the diagnosis in other patients with suggestive histories. Men were affected out of proportion to their numerical majority in our population, contrary to the predominance of women found in other studies of frozen shoulder.

So.  I learned something new.  And that explains why they’re beating the hell out of my shoulder.  Deep tendon massage, stretching, bending, twisting, turning.  I feel like a Stretch Armstrong toy.

"Does it hurt when I do THIS?"

Oddly, “frozen shoulder” is commonly the first presenting symptom in PD.  But I didn’t get mine until about six months ago.  But then, I’ve never been the kind to do things in the typical way.

My usual therapist was gone today, so I worked with Karen, who proudly refers to herself as “The Queen of Pain.”  After the shoulder workout, we did the balance and walking things.

It’s still alarming to me to see how uncoordinated I have become.  I’m so used to doing my little shuffle with my arms hanging limp by my side that when I’m told to swing my arms when taking big steps — I have to give it careful thought to accomplish this thing that most folks do all the time without even thinking about it.  In fact, Karen had to stop me and start over a few times because I was swinging the left arm and left leg, then right arm and right leg instead of the way YOU walk, which is right arm, left leg, vice versa.

We had me take the “big steps” while turning my head side to side.  I froze with every second step… usually when turning my head to the left.  I was walking like a cheaply made toy robot.  Nodding my head while walking is easier, but still challenging and requiring a great deal of thought to accomplish.

We did the “stand with one foot in front of the other and turn your head from side to side” thing, too.  I was wobbly with my left foot in front of my right leg.  I could barely stand with my right foot in front of my left leg.

This physical therapy has been a real eye opener.  I have at least two more weeks of it.  I don’t know if it’s helping anything (other than my shoulder, which does feel looser…)

But I’m sure learning stuff.

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