About five years ago, in my mid-40’s, I decided to start exercising and get into better physical condition. I’d read that it would make menopause easier. I also changed my diet to lose the 25 pounds that had mysteriously settled around my middle and backside. I developed painful plantar fasciitis in my left heel and had to change my exercise regimen while it healed. This was my first reality check that middle age was catching up with me.
Last year, I developed aches in my shoulders and hips. It was worst in the morning when I got out of bed. The mattress was at least 10 years old (possibly more, who can remember at my age?) and I replaced it. That took care of the pain in my hips, and my shoulders felt better for awhile. But the ache in my shoulders gradually became actual pain, until ultimately, my range of motion was limited. My left shoulder really hurt and made dressing/undressing difficult (dude, of course I did it anyway). I had to turn my entire body sideways in order to buckle my seatbelt.
Since I sleep on my left side, I tried sleeping on my right side. After a few weeks, I developed pain in my right shoulder. Also, I slept even worse than usual since in between waking up with hot flashes, I would roll over to my left side and wake up in agony, then roll to my right side. I happened to catch an episode of Dr. Oz and he advised sleeping on your back for maximum health benefits. I woke up even more often because I would roll over to one side or the other, have pain, shift to my back, have a hot flash, roll to my back…you get the picture. At one point, I was sleeping in the middle of the bed on my back with pillows on either side of me. That was claustrophobic, plus it was fascinating to the cats who would stand on my stomach, staring at me like something out of a Stephen King story. Not conducive to restful nights.
I ignored the pain through the fall and winter because all the s**t had hit the fan (details here, here, and here), but things have mostly evened out, giving me time to get the shoulder checked out. My primary care physician is just a gatekeeper to the myriad specialists of the medical world, so her advice was a prescription and a referral to an orthopedist for possible surgery.
I thought a massage might help, but I couldn’t even raise my arms into the correct position for that. The masseur asked if I’d been to a chiropractor. What a great idea. I had forgotten all about chiropractors in my sleep-deprived state. And, bonus, my health insurance covers that.
I’ve had four sessions with a chiropractor to date and while I’m not cured or even limber, I am reclaiming some range of motion. The chiropractor thinks I’ve got either the beginning of a frozen shoulder or a partially dislocated shoulder. That’s disturbing. Shouldn’t he be able to tell if my shoulder’s dislocated…and just pop it back into place like Mel Gibson did in Lethal Weapon? Guess not.
He’s also shown me a number of stretches for my shoulders and those seem to help more than anything else. My muscles are tense, so tense some muscles feel like bones. And of course, at my age, my bones are getting softer.
I’m not thrilled with middle-age. What, exactly, are the benefits? The only one I can think of is: I’m not dead.
- Research: Friends, Middle Age & Wellbeing (fitnessbootcampsuk.wordpress.com)
- Well: Ask Well: Exercises for Shoulder Pain (well.blogs.nytimes.com)