Frozen Shoulder after ORIF surgery

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      Last May I fell from the roof and broke my humerus, ribs, scapula and wrist, among other injuries. My main concern now is my "frozen" shoulder, actual cause undetermined. I had ORIF surgery on humerus (and radIus); BIG foot-long scar from my clavIcle down my arm, the round part of my shoulder is about the size and shape of a large lightbulb, and there is no visible deltoid. I can feel a teeny tiny muscle there, so I know he didn't remove It, or at least all of it. He had to remove one end and re-attach it after he put in the16-hole plate. There are long screws pokIng Into the humeral head.

     There's a  nasty knob of metal under the skin; It sticks out on the inner front of my shoulder, just below the acromium (I think), about 3/8",  and  it almost feels like I could put my fingertips under it. My new surgeon says that shouldn't interfere with function. It felt like the muscle was catching on it for months, but that seems to have gone away for now.

     The first shoulder surgeon gave me the heave-ho, (as far as he's concerned I am all better), so I found another; he gave me a cortisone shot (acromial joint?) that caused more pain, turned my arm red and did nothing positive. My hand surgeons sent me for cervical spine MRi (not shoulder) and arm nerve conduction study, which showed nothing acute; I have DDD with stenosis through neck, thorax and sacrum, with minimal nerve and spinal cord effacement, so theoretIcally nerves should not be a problem.

     The new surgeon confirmed my opinion that the head isn't perfectly aligned, (lIke I couldn't tell by lookIng at my xrays!), but that the "slIght" mal-alignment should not limit ROM. On the xrays it looks like the knob is backwards, at least to me,, but I'm a novIce, and the surgeons won't discuss it much with me. (Can't be true or my elbow would not work).

     I do have fair ROM, about 50% of normal, much of it compensatory. The pain isn't entirely crippling. I can't seem to regain deltoId muscle mass, and there is a limit to my ROM improvement. Grrr!  Mostly it feels like the d---ed thing was put back together sloppily,  and that my deltoid was either partially removed or sewn back in the wrong place. it feels like that there's a hose clamp around the biceps part of my arm. The arm feels like it weighs about 75 pounds, but that's a big improvement over the 175 pound arm I woke up with after surgery.

      I'm going to see the my new ortho surgeon next week, but I'm sure answers will not come quickly.

I asked if there was a rotator cuff injury and was told we'd think about that later.  Meanwhile, it's PT, PT, PT and more exercise, seemingly to little avail. I'm 59 and never had a semI-permanent problem with a joint before, but do have lots of minor arthritis.

     it's been 9 months now. I was In a wrist cast for the fIrst 2.

Non weIght bearIng exercIse (pendulum swings) started a couple of days after surgery.

I had a VERY aggressIve physical therapIst initially, ( i literally screamed  in agony) but left him when I started to develop CRPS, or  Reflex SympathetIc dystrophy, which seems to  have abated, hopefully. Now I only go to gentle PTs.

    The general consensus seems to be: 

1) I should be as good as new by now. (frIends and busIness assocIates)

2) I should not expect too much more Improvement. (PhysIcal therapIsts)

3) No predIctIons (doctors)

     I'm very pro-actIve. Any suggestions are welcome. i sure wish one of these doctors would figure this out. If it's frozen shoulder I can work with that; if its a bad repair job I need to know. I'm interested in TrIgenIcs, (OAT procedure) but can't fInd an unbIased patIent to recommend it. Vf anyone has had that or a similar treatment, please let me know how  it worked out for you.

[My computer has no i key, so please ignore all of my sloppy cut-and-paste i's.]

1 like, 19 replies

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19 Replies

  • Posted

    Nobody?

    I know my orIgInal post was very long.

    I'd really love to hear from people who had problems or success or both after ORIF on a broken humerus.

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  • Posted

    I don't know if anyone is following my post, but I will post an update just in case.

    Just saw my new surgeon; he says the cortisone shot worked very well, and that I have greatly improved range of motion.

    New x-rays show the alignment problem and why the humeral ball looks like it's backwards; the shaft bends inward slightly, just below the head. (The bone was broken in several places, not just one place like I prevIously  thought.)

    This bend weakens the deltoid, and the muscles have to be retrained to work at the new angle.

    The plate may have to be removed, as it seems to impinge on a tendon at the acromial(?) joint.

    All in all, the surgeon is optimistic, and so am I.

    No cortisone shot this week. PT is going well.

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  • Posted

    My husband also fell off the roof and fractured his humerus and waited 3 mo to see if t wuld heal by itself which it did not so he went through with surgery his accident date was January 24 2014 and we are in may 2015 and still having severe pain can not sleep at night can not pick his arm up far at all to the front, side, or backwards he was told its frozen shoulder from waiting in the arm sling 3 mo but the thing is both his shoulders are hurting the same way and making popping sounds which sounds like rotator cuff tear so he has pain in both shoulders and pain from where he had surgery you can feel his metal plate he has a lump it doesn't look normal and he wakes up several times of the night pouring sweat from the arm je had surgery I just dont understand a year in a half why he can hardly move his arm and In so much pain he used to ne very active and now wants to ly on the counch all day depressed dont have energy to play with his kids he has broke his neck and had a halo with 8 screws and didn't have this much pain and still played with his kids this is awful. We have tried so many creams heating pads for pain nothing works. Have you found any thing to help the pain?? I see its been a couple of months since you wrote this I hope you see this? And what does your shoulder pain feel like?
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  • Posted

    Hi Mary, I had a similar injury happened to me approximately 10 months ago. I also feel frustrated with the outcome of my ORIF surgery to my left humerus. I indeed was also diagnosed with frozen shoulder and had to have a second surgery to repair that, or unstick it whatever you might want to call it but my range of motion is still Limited despite my greatest efforts to do everything the physical therapist instruct me to do. I feel so overwhelmed because some days I feel like I'm gettIng better, while other days it seems as if my whole arm is in a vice grip. It's quite a roller coaster with my emotions trying to go through this recovery process. I also noticed a buldge at the top of the plates on my humorous, I went to the emergency room the pain became so severe and was actually admitted into the hospital for two days. They told me I had developed a pocket of blood right at the top of the plates that are screwed onto my humorous. And not to be worried that the blood would absorb back into my system like a hematoma naturally fades and I would be fine. That was 2 weeks ago and indeed I felt much better. Until today I started experiencing the symptoms all over again when I decided to look on the internet and saw your post. I'm not sure if I'm helping at all but I know for me it was reassuring to know I wasn't alone when I saw your post. Maybe just maybe we are very strong willed and we need a little more time to heal.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery (:

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  • Posted

    I had orif surgery to fix a displaced fracture of my humerus as well. It is 7 weeks post op and I have very poor ROM and still in pain, so I guess we are the unlucky ones! The doctors are pointing towards frozen shoulder, I think that's what they say when they don't know what it is and can't be bothered looking fir a cause. It is very discouraging. Life changed so much for me. I cannot work or drive if do much of anything. I hope it gets better soon.
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  • Posted

    Mary, Like many others here you do not have a frozen shoulder. You may a very stiff and very painfull  shouder but not a freezing one. FS has a pathology which is quite different from any other shoulder condition. That said aggresive therapy is out. Lessr Tuberosity says it all, If you don't know it's a frozen shoulder, or another one is rotator cuff, another don't know favorite. 
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    • Posted

      Maybe I should tell my surgeon she was wrong advising me I had a frozen shoulder after surgery? I was operated on 2 and half years ago. My rom is still limited, I cannot raise my arm more than 130 deg. I was told as far as humerus head fractures went, this was the worst. The head was smashed in 4 pieces and it looked like a morbid flower.. got a philos plate etc.. So anyway, yes, surgery is one of the causes of frozen shoulder http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Frozen-shoulder/Pages/Introduction.aspx

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  • Posted

    How are you doing now? I am 13 weeks now and regaining strength, but external rotation is still non existent. I can get to neutral but not beyond, which makes driving painful. I find deep sports therapy from a chiropractor is helping me the most! I go to pt 4-5 days a week and walk 5kms a day. I have depressing days of aching but rarely take Tylenol anymore so it's def better than it was

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  • Posted

    Hello, I am going to toronto Canada to have the trigenic oat procedure done next week, July 14. I will let you know if it works for me! Feb 22, 2016 I fell on the ice on my pond in my front yard and landed directly on my right shoulder. I dislocated and fractured my shoulder, the fracture is healed, however my range of motion is still terrible, doctors won't admit that I have developed a frozen shoulder, they say to continue with therapy which I have had only minimal improvement from. The doctors still won't clear me to go back to work (I'm a rn). I am tired of therapy so I have been doing research online and came across Dr. Allen's trigenic clinic and was amazed at the videos on YouTube, so I sent him all of my info, he accepted me and now I am going to see him to get this shou!der taken care of. I am so excited and nervous, but I feel I have nothing to lose!

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    • Posted

      Hi Amy, that sounds reallly interesting, I had not heard of that. I live in Ottawa, which is a 5 hr drive from Toronto, so please post again and let me know how it goes for you! What kind of fracture did you have? I broke off my lesser tuberosity in 2 pieces, with a posterior dislocation and torn labrum, and subscapularis tendon. I have terrible range of motion as well and they told me I had frozen shoulder just 9 days after surgery!
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    • Posted

      Hi, i will for sure post on here how it goes. I actually fractured my greater tuberosity! The doctors said that it was impossible for me to have torn anything because the greater tuberosity is where the rotator cuff attaches to and you either fracture the bone or tear the tendons but not both. But then if my fracture is healed, why is my ROM so terrible? So, i have concluded as well as Dr. Allen O. I have frozen shoulder, and he can cure it in one treatment, I am actually flying from Wisconsin to get this fixed, i am trying everything i can to avoid surgery! My husband is pretty skeptical but I have to do something, my short term disability will run out soon so i need to get back to work! i'm so sorry lessrtuberosity that you are going through this, it really sucks! Did you start therapy after your surgery? It seems awful fast to have frozen shoulder only 9 days after surgery. That really sucks for you.

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    • Posted

      Hi Amy

      good luck tomorrow! I was curious to know your current ROM measurements? I can only actively raise my arm to about 120 forward Flexion, and 108 out to the side abduction, both with pain. I have virtually no external rotation (13 degrees). 

      I can push FF to 160 assisted but no amount of pushing helps the agony I feel on rotation

      how are yours before your new treatment?

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    • Posted

      Hello! i just got back to the hotel after the procedure and i am totally amazed! the procedure worked! i have complete ROM back with very little pain! I do have some minor swelling that should go down soon. When i first arrived at the clinic i was very scared and nervous, the place was not what i was expecting and almost turned around and left! but i flew all that way so i was determined to go through with it. just then another patient came in for her followup (she had it done yesterday) and she showed me her perfect ROM! i was sold at that minute and was not so scared anymore! i would recommend anyone with frozen shoulder to call his office and see if you would be accepted!
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    • Posted

      That's amazing!! What was the procedure like? What do they actually do/ how long did it take, and did it hurt? 

      I I saw my surgeon yesterday but forgot to ask him about that. I had a torn rotator cuff tendon repaired so wonder if it would be safe for me to try

      how are you now?

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    • Posted

      So, I will be completely honest when I first arrived at the clinic I was very scared, I was second guessing my decision and almost turned around and ran from the clinic! But I kept telling myself that I came all this way, what I was doing at home wasn't working so I convinced myself to stay. Just then another patient arrived at the clinic for her followup appointment, she just had the procedure the day before, she raised her arms up over her head with the greatest of ease and no pain! I was amazed and relieved! And felt so much better and I knew I was in the right place! So I had the treatment done my mother was in the room for the first part which was the trigenic treatment it is hard to describe what happens but he was able to increase my ROM from 30 to 100 at that time!! My mom was so amazed she was crying right there in the room because my arm was already so much better and it did not hurt at all!! I didn't even have the main procedure done yet and was already so much better than what I was before! I then got the anesthesia shots in my shoulder to help numb it and then had the procedure done. I took one oxy and another medication to help relax me and make me sleepy. I was awake during the procedure but pretty out of it and I vaguely remember parts of it. I remember him moving my arm at one point and feeling/hearing the moment the adhesions were dissected, I felt a couple seconds of pain then was done! My mother was in room and I was standing up against the wall with my arm up!! I could not believe it and still have a hard time believing he cured my frozen shoulder with such little pain! I would have to say that if you have a frozen shoulder contact Dr Austin Allen Oolo and have the OAT procedure done!

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    • Posted

      I am doing great! My shoulder is still a little tender/sore but tolerable. The only thing I have been taking is a little ibuprofen to help keep swelling/inflammation down. I have been doing the exercises as ordered, even though it was pretty hard doing them every hour during that first night. Now I am down to every three hours for the next couple of days. I am so excited to be able to do the "little" things again! I was able to shave my armpit for the first time on thursday since Feb 22! I was able to take my bra off normally for the first time on Thursday as well! I was able to put my bra on normally on Friday! My family and friends are all so happy for me and can't believe the results I have!

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    • Posted

      How are you doing now, a week after the procedure? How is your pain? Mine has returned this past week so I'm getting concerned I have something else going on other than just capsulitis. I'm waiting on another MRI. I have great internal rotation behind the back (i can do up a bra now too!) but flexion is still limited and external rotation practically nil.

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    • Posted

      I am now over two weeks since the procedure and I only have a mild stretching sensation when my arm is completely up above my head, nothing that I need any medication for. My ROM is still great and I am able to do the " I surrender " position much better now! I can't wait to go and see my ortho doctor on August 9 and show him my great increase in ROM!

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