By Wendy Crawford
NOTE: This is a personal recount of a shoulder problem written in laymen’s terms. The author is not a medical professional. For medical advice, please consult your physician for the best course of action pertaining to your condition.
IIt all started about 11 years ago when the side of my left upper arm began to ache. It was one of those aches that is just kind of always present and didn’t really matter what I did or did not do. Keep in mind at this point, I had been paralyzed for 25 years due to a C5/6 level Spinal Cord Injury that I sustained in a motor vehicle accident. To say that my arms have been overused is probably an understatement! Given that the prevalence of shoulder pain rises to a peak of 50% of the general population ages 55-64 years old and much higher for wheelchair users, it is unfortunately a common problem.
I first went to my general practitioner who thought I was having an inflammation issue and recommended that I start taking large amounts of Advil, several times a day. I wasn’t thrilled about it but if it was going to remedy the situation, I was willing to try it.
After a month or so, this pain was still present and it didn’t seem like it was helping at all. It was also recommended that I go to physical therapy to exercise my shoulder and rotator cuff along with ultrasound therapy on the side of my arm. I had some slight relief but the pain still lingered so finally I was referred to an orthopedist.. After having an X-ray, she pointed to the tiniest microscopic dot and told me that was calcification forming which was causing me pain. I was finding it hard to believe that such a tiny speck on the x-ray could be the source of so much discomfort. I was also confused because it was the side of my arm that hurt not my shoulder. She explained that it was called “referred pain” which is very common with shoulders. She gave me a steroid Cortisone shot in the shoulder and told me to keep exercising.