Frozen shoulder?

BBK Member Posts: 53
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
I had mastectomy on left side, with immediate tram flap reconstruction in January 2003. Throughout my recovery, I had excellent range of motion, never had any problems at all. Went through AC Chemo from March to May 2003. during surgey, had only 2 lymph nodes removed (negative). I haven't had any indication of lymphedema (to date), or any arm problems AT ALL! But, two weeks ago, I came down with pneumonia. The coughing fits caused a stiff neck (maybe pinched nerve or something; or possibly just that the pneumonia went into my neck/upper back/shoulder -- the doctor isn't sure, but thinks it will resolve itself once the pneumonia is gone). Anyway, for about a week, the shoulder/upperback/neck on the left side (my surgery side) was in excruciating pain. Since being on antibiotics and cough syrup with codeine, I'm starting to feel better, and the pain in the shoulder is getting better. I keep heat on it in the evenings, and try to do my "normal" routine during the day. But, now, I'm finding that my shoulder is stiff and lifting my arm is difficult. Getting dressed, shampooing hair, reaching into the cupboard, etc. is hard. It feels like my arm is dead. There is some tingling in the fingers, especially when I'm typing. I still notice some neck pain (it feels pinched) and stiffness in turning my head. Anyway, I'm wondering if any of you have had a "frozen shoulder" and what did it feel like? I may have to reschedule another appointment with my doctor to get to the bottom of this. She was more concerned about the pneumonia when I saw her last week than she was about the shoulder/neck. I'm trying hard to keep the muscles limber and to move my shoulder/arm as much as possible -- doing all those range of motion exercises I did following surgery. It wasn't even hard to do them then...but, it is now. Any help or advice would be appreciated. Thanks.


  • hummingbyrd
    hummingbyrd Member Posts: 950 Member
    Got one now, that's why my posts have been more short and to the point, it hurts like h*ll.
    My suggestion is to get an order from doc to see physical therapist, you may have a trigger point (constricted band of muscles) along shoulder blade that is causing pain, numbness down arm. Need to do something quick, these things freeze up fast and take forever to work out! Good luck and God bless.
  • amelia
    amelia Member Posts: 56
    I devoloped frozen shoulder just before I discovered a lump n my breast a year ago. It came on very slowly at first. Like hummingbyrd said, it hurt like h*ll. When I would reach for something, especially to reach behind me, like getting my purse out of the back seat, the pain would take my breath away. The pain would start off slow and keep getting worse to the point I would have to hold my arm and my breath until it would slowly go away. Doc said therapy first. did that for three months with no improvment, so he operated and it unfroze it, but I'm still working on getting the strength back. It is important to keep it moving as best you can. It is also important to at least see a therapist to get proper intruction on how to move it. Good Luck, Amelia
  • lynne40
    lynne40 Member Posts: 87
    I did not have a mastectomy I had a lumpectomy and sentinal node biopsy, but I have stiffness in both shoulders worse on operation side. Docs find no apparent reason for this but I now am having a stiff neck also. No reason to believe it is related to the cancer yet I had none of this before my cancer. RN massage therapist says it is stress that the cords in my neck and muscles in my shoulders are as stiff as a board. Has anyone else had these symptoms? Any feedback would be appreciated! Thanks ladies!
  • nancyeob
    nancyeob Member Posts: 19
    I was going to PT for a "frozen right shoulder" when my breast cancer was diagnosed. I agree with what has been said, the pain was so bad that I had to quit my job. They gave me all the usual exercises. As soon as my chemo began the "frozen shoulder" disappeared and hasn't returned going on 4 years. The explanation my doctors gave was that even though the cancer was with my left breast the tumor was on my chest wall and was interfering with the motion of my right arm. I had chemo before surgery to dislodge the tumor and chemo after surgery plus all that radiation we get. I am now back in PT as there is so much scar tissue from the radiation my ROM is in no way as good as it should be and my muscles are so tight. I was sent to a pain clinic and was issued a TENS unit which hasn't helped. Just seems kind of funny that we have all had the diagnoses of frozen shoulder. And why if anyone knows, does it seem that 9 out of 10 women develop breast cancer in the left breast. I hardly ever hear of someone having it in the right breast.
  • dawniebelle
    dawniebelle Member Posts: 1
    I developed a frozen shoulder 3 weeks after a right masectomy, tram reconstruction, and 6 sentinel nodes removed. I was doing well until then. The pain was excruitating. The worst was anything that caused you to reach behind you. Reaching into the back seat of the car from the front was impossible. To bathe I had to sling the washcloth over to the left side . At the worst stage I could not lift a glass or reach for one out of the cabinet. I still only have approx. 85% pre-surgery use without pain. It still throbs with overuse or rotation to the back. My surgery was 3 years ago. Get a good ortho who believes in rehab for frozen shoulder. Mine didn't.Get answers and don't give up. My ortho said it was a small price to pay for being alive after cancer. It was the worst part of my cancer experience from surgery to chemotherapy. I share this hoping you will learn what not to accept. Good luck