After several months of grumbling about shoulder pain, I went to the orthopedic specialists at my clinic.
I had a video call with my normal doc and he thought maybe a rotator cuff injury, but thought the orthopedist should make that call. He suggested the best would be if physical therapy would do the trick. Maybe a shot of steroids to ease the pain. Worst case would be some surgery, followed by physical therapy and maybe pain-killing shots.
They took some x-rays of my pained shoulder. Weird, because the x-ray wouldn't show the muscle, but not weird, because an MRI is a bit more involved. The doc saw me shortly after. He was very kind and patient, asking about what I did, what I thought I did to my shoulder, and how it hurts when it hurts. He had me move in some ways to show when it hurt, some simple holds and presses. Easy things. He peeked at the x-rays and commented the spacing all looked good, and there weren't any extra or missing pieces, nor any unexpected spots or shapes. All good things.
He told me I have "adhesive capsulitis," which is very common, and will generally heal itself. "Frozen shoulder," he said was the common name for it. Essentially, stiff and swollen muscles in the shoulder cause a reduction in mobility and strength, and that hitting those limits can cause pain, in the shoulder and connected muscles. So the pains down my tricep and around my elbow are all part of it.
Causes aren't exactly known, but unexpected stress can cause it, like jarring motions, or continued immobility or infrequent motion, and anything that you can think would normally cause muscle aches. Age seems to make it worse, but even the young have it. He chuckled when I said "well, at least I know I don't have youth any more."
Surgery is not going to help. He said that there are some surgeons who like to try, but the damage and recovery is generally worse than the ailment, and can result in a worse situation. I seem tough enough to not need a pain-relieving shot, so continuing with ibuprofen or other OTC pain relief, plus heat or cold or whatever else makes it comfortable, should be enough. The rest is going to be time, stretching, and maybe eventually some weight training.
I have PT scheduled for Monday. He made some treatment notes, and then told me to beware and avoid any PT or other activities or exercises involving weight or resistance until the pain subsides. I can continue to do the normal activities, but should be careful and stop when things hurt. I was hoping for an excuse to get out of shoveling snow, but care was all he could offer. I should also continue to move it, don't immobilize it. Don't do anything that causes stress or pain, but keep it flexing.
He asked me to check in again in about 8-10 weeks, after some PT sessions and stretching becomes part of my routine. He warned that they should offer me some movements and stretches that I'll have to do like 20 times a day, so that'll be a treat. The PT won't do anything to speed the recovery, but will help me change the mobility and avoid some of the pain. The frozen shoulder should correct itself in a year (or two or three) after it starts, which was a little bit of good news, since it seems it started more than six months ago, I could be well on my way.
So, there's that.
Other than that, just school drop-off and pick-up. Kids are digging it, and no one seems worse for wear. Both come home tired from their day or half. Good things seeing friends and getting teacher attention in person. Dropping-off and picking-up at the bigger little's school is a little bit of an ordeal. We're little stepping toward the bus. Especially with the polar vortex, and the anecdotal discussions around how the school system has had to handle cases of contacts traced to bus riding. No cases traced through classrooms, though. Maybe soon, but not riding the bus yet.
The missus got her first vaccine shot! I guess that's a little exciting. Her role can put her in contact with front-line hospital or clinic workers, or people who interact with them, when she's not working from home. So she falls into that support role. She's been looking at vaccine appointment availability for the 65+ crowd every day, sending notes to our parents to get them out, but they aren't all that keen to rush, despite being done with the isolation. My company is making a lot of discussion around making sure that everyone who needs and wants one will be able to have one when available, and for free. I think that's the plan anyway, right? It'll happen, when it happens.