Hydrodilatation - my experience

Posted , 76 users are following.

I've decided to start another thread on here to document my experiences with Hyrodilatation (also spelled Hydrodilation or known as Arthrographic Distension) and how well it works for me over the next few weeks or so.

A brief background, in case anyone didn't read my original thread.  I started with odd pains in my shoulder in spring, this year, with no apparant cause and I assumed I'd just pulled a muscle or something like that and hoped it would go away on it's own.  It got worse over the summer and I also started to lose movement. I had the usual excrutiating pain on knocks or jerks and aches right down my arm.  Pain, lack of sleep and loss of movement finally drove me to the GP in September where I was diagnosed with a frozen shoulder.  I managed to seek physiotherapy with Bupa (or I'd still be on the NHS waiting list) and was recommended by a physio to see a consultant with a view to Hydrodilatation.

I had my Hydrodilatation this afternoon - 14th December.  A few hours on and I'm feeling fine.  I was very nervous but the procedure itself went well and took 15-20 minutes in total.  I'd worn a vest top, which meant I didn't need to wear a gown and just dropped my straps off my bad shoulder.  I was asked to lie on my front, with a pillow for support.  I'd thought the procedure was done via x-ray guidance but it was in fact ultrasound guided.  The doctor explained what was about to happen and did an initial scan of my shoulder area before giving me a local anaesthetic.  He then put in the needle for the hydrodilatation, which administered first some cortisone and then saline.  He said I might feel some pushing and to let him know if it became painful.  There was some discomfort but I wouldn't describe it as painful and within a few minutes, he said the saline had started to leak out of the joint and the procedure was over.  He did another scan and checked my movement before and after - there was perhaps a couple of degrees improvement but nothing drastic.  I left the hospital with a plaster on my shoulder and feeling fine.  He said I might experience a bit of aching once the local anaesthetic wears off but the cortisone should kick in within a day or two and should improve things pain-wise.

Physiotherapy is recommended within a few days of the procedure and I have an appointment with the physio on Friday morning and another to see the consultant again in about 6 weeks.  So far, so good but it remains to be seen how sucessful it has been in improving pain and getting my movement back.  I can currently lift my arm about 90 degrees in front, slightly less at the side and very little behind my back.

I will document my progress over the next few days and weeks, for anyone else considering this treatment.  Hope this information is of help to someone and fingers crossed that the procedure works for me!

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  • Edited

    Hi from Australia,

    I have been suffering for 6 mnths with this. Wow, I thought I was going to go mad. In dsigust at my GP telling me that I was letting it get to me, (no soid sleep for 6 mths nd not missing a day of work might I add) I changed GPs. I went to see a new one on Monday who ordered a CT scan of my neck. I have had an MRI of my shoulder and it showed a spur, bursitis, a small tear in my shoulder and frozen shoulder. He thinks that the intense pain is due to something going on in the neck. He has also recommended the treatment that you are discussing. Likewise, I feel I am desperate enough for nything right now. It will be the first CHristmas that I simply am to tired to bother with although with 2 small grandchildren I shall make an effort.

    How can something like this affect so much of your life? How can they look at you with an expression that almost says "another middle aged hormonal woman moaning about a sore shoulder"

    Perhaps I am simply over sensitive!

    Anyway - this wonderful new GP prescribed me Tramadol - one at night. I took it reluctantly last night and whoo hoo I had 3 hours of continuous sleep! Small steps forward finally!

    Wishing you well. Keep us posted!

    • Posted

      Hi Claire, sorry to hear you are in so much pain.  Unfortunately, apart from the lack of movement, we don't look ill with a frozen shoulder.  It's no excuse for the behaviour of some GPs.  As for hormonal - I am convinced there is a link between a drop in hormones and the onset of frozen shoulders in women - there are too many anecdotal cases - it's surely worth some research.  

      My treatrment hasn't miraculously improved my shoulder movement (it does for some) - though I do think it's a bit better.  I suspect for me that slow and steady progress is more likely.  It has however left me largely pain-free, which for me is my main priority.

      Hope you get treatment that gives you some pain relief soon - we all know how painful it is and how desperate it makes you feel.  I'll also be spending my Christmas Day with 2 grandchildren (aged 3 and 10) so know how much that means to you.  Hope they help keep your mind off the shoulder, at least for a while.  Best wishes for a peaceful Christmas and hope you start to feel much better soon.  Take heart in knowing it WILL get better!

    • Posted

      Well I am glad the pill gave you some relief but aren't they going to do something to treat your condition like surgery??  I had one surgery here in the States that fixed my tear and frozen shoulder and am fine now 9 weeks out.  What use is a pill that relieves pain for 3 hours but does not solve the problem???
    • Posted

      Hi Maria and Lambchop2

      Yes I had a great Christmas day with both little ones taking my mind off the pain for a while. I intend to get something done. I am a teacher and need to work. I feel I have 6 weeks to make a start on some treatment. The thing is, it is aslow process here and although I am willing to pay to go private, the waiting lists are extraordinary, nothing seems to be a priority either....

      Like you Maria, I am certain the drop in hormones is linked to it. In my opinion, there is not enough research being made into this condition, whic, while not urgent or life threatening, is most debilitating.


    • Posted


      I had FS for months! Doctors did MRI of my shoulder, found a small tear, but thought my problem was my neck so did MRI of my neck. Sent me to a neurosurgeon who said it wasn't, but didn't know what it was and sent me to a phyziatrist who yanked my arm up above my head and almost passed out from the pain. He didn't know what was wrong. I went to another Dr 4 states away and they diagnosed FS in 5 minutes! Did a cortisone injection which helped the pain within 72 hours. Started physical therapy twice a week. That was in beginning of March and it is now middle of May and it's coming back again like the cortisone is wearing off. I won't make it through this again! The worst pain I've ever been in! Good luck with yours!

    • Posted

      Hi Maria, how long did your pain relief from your hydrodialation shot last?  Thanks!
    • Posted

      I was advised by my consultant who is a shoulder specialist that although they are not the only causes, there are proven links between the onset of menopause and drops in hormone levels in women, diabetes and thyroid issues in causing frozen shoulder . So I believe you are right in your thoughts on this.
  • Edited

    I hope everyone managed to have a good Christmas, despite their shoulders!  I just wanted to let you know of something that would seem very minor to most - but felt like a big step forward to me.  

    I have long hair and in recent years, have taken to wearing it up, twisted round and held in place by one of those hinged claw clips.  My freezing shoulder made this increasingly difficult and I remember the exact day in September when, however hard I tried, I could no longer do this.  I remember crying with sheer frustration.

    Over Christmas I noticed that it was getting a little easier to wash my hair with 2 hands.  I decided at first to try to plait my hair at the back - again, something I haven't been able to do for some time.  With a little difficulty I managed it.  Then I tried the clip - again, not exactly easy but I got it in place and felt elated.  OK, to most this seems very trivial - but to me it's a small victory and gives me hope for better things in the New Year.  At last, there looks to be some light at the end of this dark frozen tunnel.

    Good luck to all of you and lets hope the New Year brings us all some relief from this awful condition!

    • Posted

      I know what you mean. I had shoulder surgery three months ago and am just beginning to feel the benefits. Having a shower and washing my hair ten days post surgery after having the stitches out. Being able to brush my teeth, the my hair back at last to drive a short distance. Mean souh to me too as I am single mother living in a remote Wiltshire village. The most challenging for me has been having to stay at home feeling very disconnected and totally relying on other people. I have always been highly independent
    • Posted

      Showering, washing my hair, and drying off with a towell was so incredibly painful I didn't even want to do it! Less than 3 months after the cortisone injection and it's starting to come back! I'd finally started getting through the depression it caused the first time!

    • Posted

      Hi Jayne, I have FS in both shoulders, the left started 11 months ago so I'm through the worst of the pain but now just diagnosed with FS in the right!  It is extremely painful, can hardly use that arm at all and was contemplating a cortisone shot.  I've heard mixed reviews.  Did it help you with the pain?  And how long did that take?  Thanks so much!

    • Posted

      I had the shot in March and did physical therapy twice a week. Most movement came back, but it seems to be getting worse again. It doesn’t hurt all the time, but can’t put it behind my back and can’t lift straight up above my head. I would still have the shot again without hesitation!! The relief from the pain, although it’s starting again, was worth it!!!!!
  • Posted

    Such good news to read this, after almost seven months of struggling I see mynew GP tomorrow.  (I changed as the previous GP told me I was letting it get to me as it was only a frozen shoulder) I am over not being able to put my bra on, comb my hair properly, hang out the washing properly, air the bed by fluffing up the king size duvet, reach up to get something off the top shelf etc. The list is endless. Most of all I am seriously over not being able to sleep without pain. The stronger pain killers no longer work and I am up pacing the boards most nights.

    I feel guilty moaning about it, I am sick of listening to myself. My nextdoor neighbour has terminal cancer, how could I even think of moaning about my shoulder, alas I do though..................

    As my husband reminds me, with a serious disease, injury, broken limb etc. people recognise it and are prescribed painkillers. With a FS, I have had to fight for an xray, analgesics, ultrasound and 2 MRIs. 

    Ridiculous really! 

  • Posted

    I thought I'd add an update to this. as the subject has come up on other threads and Friday was the date for my follow-up consultation.  It's almost 7 weeks now since I had my hydrodilatation.  I'm still pain free and life is pretty much back to normal for me.  I am without pain and can sleep without being propped up on cushions,, though it still feels a little uncomfortable to sleep on my frozen side.  I'm doing my excercises, as and when I think about them - gentle stretching and strengthening excecise (done at home).  At the extemeties of my stretch, I feel some discomfort (that's where I stop) but have no residual aching afterwards.

    Slowly but surely, my movements are improving.  Putting up my hair gets easier every day and a couple of weeks ago I realised I could fasten my bra, without sliding it round the front.  It's still a little awkward but getting easier all the time - such little things can feel like a major achievement!  I've found the best way of excercising for movements behind your back is in the shower - sliding the bad arm up with the help of the other one when soapy makes it much easier.  I can't get my arm right up yet but it isn't causing me any major issues, so as long as I'm without pain, I'm happy continue exercising and getting the movement back slowly.

    I'm still unsure whether my other shoulder is starting to freeze.  Some days I have a slight ache and tight feeling at the top of that arm and into my shoulder - but other days it is OK.  I'm hoping it will be OK but if not, will seek help a lot earlier than I did with my right shoulder.

    My consultant was happy with my progress and said the movement should continue to improve in time.  He said to go directly back to him, should I have any further issues or pain or if my other shoulder does freeze.  I'd have no hesitation going for an earlier hydrodilatation, should that happen.  I'll report back, if there are any dramatic changes - either good or bad.

    Good luck to all of you going through this awful condition and I hope you too can find some releif!

    • Posted

      At a private hospital in Wilmslow, Cheshire.  If you Google "shoulder doctor Wilmslow", you'll find it.

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