This is part two of a four-months painful shoulder saga that started in 2008-12 with injury from doing Nintendo Wii Sports.
Do not read further if you have a medical condition. Seek professional help for that. I am only relaying what worked for me. Your case may be different, I don't even know that and I don't care. This report is entirely subjective. Read and apply at your own risk. Ahh, but it worked well for me.
Shoulder pain almost gone with lots of water, four supplements, and a specific exercise
The following is not a piece of scientific research. Out of necessity to find what worked for me - fast, I experimented with more than one thing at the same time and kept what worked. It could be a mistake to conclude this or that specifically helped. I leave this up to proper research and just share the story because I was wishing to find such information on the web and did not.
The first diagnosis
In December, almost four months ago, shoulder pain developed, triggered by unusual Wii Sports exercise. When I could not sleep any more for pain, I went to the doc. He x-rayed and diagnosed calcifying tendonitis. He said it may go away, yes I could go skiing, and if it does not get better we could try injection once or twice.
I had read on web forums people with this diagnosis experienced relief for a week or so from the anti-inflammatory injection but many ended up needing more invasive treatment or surgery. This video explains. I would not go to surgery until I had tried everything else.
In the course of a few weeks the shoulder got a little better, a little worse, but was fairly stable. On the first Sunday in March, pain got so strong it kept me from sleeping, so I went to the doc a second time. He explained the inflammation got worse and he could give the steroid injection that might work for a week or two at least. And it can not be repeated often.
OK to the shot. Oh, the pain! In a minute, I had immediate relief thanks to the (cold) liquid in the joint. However, within 30 minutes, just back home, hellish pain developed. So I actually took the prescribed painkiller. Normally I don't, because pain is my guide to what I am doing to make a condition worse or better.
A secondary problem - not diagnosed
Next day, with the painkiller worn off, the joint felt OK, and I could move better. Now I clearly noticed a second cause of pain, from two distinct movements, like swinging a bat and stopping the swing. I suspected a rotator cuff tear. More than three months after the Wii injury the overstrained muscles had not healed.
I am happy to report four weeks after the injection was supposed to have stopped working I finally found what works for me to reduce the pain permanently and help the shoulder joint and muscles recover.
For the benefit of those who may wish to follow, I write up my trial and error, roughly in the sequence I made the discoveries. If you try anything, consult with a health professional or with literature you trust. Your results may vary.
Simple and small relief for 2-3 days
- drank more water, green tea, about 3 liters daily, helped ease the joint pain
- vigorous exercise like bicycling or walking upstairs raised blood flow and reduced pain for a few hours
- cut all dairy (no milk in in recent years, cut the cheese, too)
- cut all coffee (slightly dehydrating and addictive)
- cut all sugar (inflammatory, slightly addictive)
- doubled Vitamin C and MSM (methyl-sulfonyl-methane) intake to 2 grams a day
Fasted for 6 days - joint much better, muscle pain reduced. However, after I broke the fast (with breakfast), within 3 days, pain grew back and I knew 4 to 5 days longer and I would be out of sleep again, at the clinic, accepting another of the injections that will eventually stop working. Then all the doc had left would be invasive therapy.
So I browsed supplement catalogs and bought (most of it locally) what was indicated for joint pain or inflammation.
Hyaluronic acid - good relief at 120 mg 3x daily (high dose, I got very thirsty) but pain returned 3 days later. This particular brand also contains squalene.
Glucosamine - a bit better at 500 mg 3x daily, seemed to reduce need for Hyaluronic acid.
Proteolytic Enzymes - 3-5x daily, again noticeably better, but plateaued after 2 days.
A colleague who had a similar shoulder problem said it took him a year to get rid of he pain (not the same, called go-juu kata 五十肩 in Japanese, 50-years-old shoulder). One exercise had helped him: lift arm all the way up and hang by the shoulder joint. Tried that nging by a cabinet edge and joint pain lifted instantly for about 15 minutes. Repeated a few times that evening, but at night the shoulder muscles acted up very painfully.
On the morning of Saturday April 11, I went out and bought the 4th supplement listed for joint mobility and reduction of inflammation :
Chondroitin - 450 mg 3 x daily. With it, the combo reduced pain a lot, while I cut hyaluronic acid to recommended level of 3x 60 mg daily.
By Sunday afternoon this regimen had reduced pain so much that I could move the shoulder almost freely. In joy, I started to search for remaining painful positions. Found I could move over these now and this massaged the pain points away. So by evening, my whole normal shoulder range was almost pain free, only the muscles involved in the bat-swinging movement were still very sore if I happened to involve them.
Enjoying the relief of usual activity, out of impulse, I lifted my arm all the way up. Slight pain, and I did not want to hang from a cabinet as that had resulted in muscle pain. Without much thought, still searching for remaining slightly painful positions, I twisted my cupped hand back and forth, as if "screwing a light bulb". That reduced pain even further.
"Screw the light bulb" shoulder exercise
Sitting, standing or lying on the side or back, lift arm up, with your hand open as if to grab a large bulb. Twist back and forth as long as and fast as comfortable. I do it for close to a minute until I feel an "energetic tingle" in the fingers. After that, lower the arm and seek for remaining painful angles in the joint. Slowly move over them to see if that reduces pain further. My joint was now in stable condition. Some binding noise remained when moving but no pain. Within a week, I noticed also the muscle pain had mostly vanished. I could not reproduce the prior pain with the batting movement. So the rotator cuff injury had finally begun healing, too.
The reward of strict abstinence
Confirmation of how strict a nutritional discipline is needed came this Friday, when some of the muscle pain returned. Found the cause quickly: on Thursday evening, I had one ice cream cone. Just one - never a problem when healthy, but alarming now. Not sure whether it is the dairy or the refined sugar, but this seems to confirm one or both of those interfered with the muscle healing process and held it up for months.
This limits remaining food choices at the convenience store to unprocessed foodstuff, salted nuts, and 99% chocolate. Almost anything else has sugar, aspartame sweetener or taste enhancer added. I am allergic to MSG (monosodiumglutamate) with prompt headache that does not go away with lots of water. I am not allergic to glutamine.
Other things I take regularly
and did not vary much during this experiment, may or may not be a factor
- about a gram of Vitamin C and MSM daily, immune resistance, skin healing
- for months I have been adding cinnamon, turmeric and cayenne to my morning muesli. The raw egg may have helped, too.
- probiotics (live bacteria), immune resistance, almost no colds or flu
- Acetyl-L-Carnitine, energy level, bicycling engine power and endurance
- L-Glutamine before bicycling, improves muscle recovery
- R-Alpha Lipoic Acid, improves energy level and memory
- at least 2 liters of water or green/herbal tea. More is needed while taking hyaluronic acid. It has a side effect - gotta go more frequently.
What helped me in the end was not what I found as the treatment options in medical books or on the web. So, here you have it, use it wisely. While in pain, I was trying one or two things a day and kept what ever worked. I did not study which supplements might work one by one. Maybe Glucosamine can be left out, but in light of the recent experience, that is just speculation.
Definitely helpful was no sugar, no coffee, no dairy. Cutting all helped a little. Six days total fasting helped a lot to heal, but... cannot do that for much longer.
If you reads this and feel like finding out for yourself, cross-check the medical and supplement facts. Try it at your own responsibility, your mileage may vary.
Everyone's enzyme balance is different, like the genetic predisposition, so you are the best person to find out what works for you. Despite a lot of hope and hype, genetic research will be hard-pressed to come up with workable personal solutions without confirmation by the individual. If you find what works for you, consider leaving a comment or a link to your write-up
Disclosure: The statements on this page have not been reviewed by food and drug authorities. I live drug free and without medical intervention as much as possible and do not earn money from any supplements. I am willing to share brand names and contents of the supplements that helped me. Some of these may be available only in Japan.