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I am in my early 50s, menopausal with frozen shoulder, vaginal atrophy and regular migraines and yes, when I have the migraine all the other complaints hurt more too (even the tip of my nose hurts!). I’ve been like this for nearly a year now and it’s a long time since I had a complete night’s sleep. But, the shoulder is getting better and I have got better at living with it. Here are some tips which made my life easier.
1. I find an ice-pack really helps, applied morning and evening. More often is better but not always possible. If you are doing this in Winter make sure you are sitting near a source of heat when you do it or 10 minutes with an ice pack on the shoulder will leave you chilled all over.
2. Do stretching exercises as often as you can – when you get up is good and then at intervals during the day. If you incorporate shoulder exercises into a wider exercise programme it feels less like “I’m an invalid” and more like “I’m keeping fit” which is good for morale. But don’t do too much, 5-10 minutes at a time is plenty.
3. Don’t carry a briefcase or rucksack – a soft satchel carried across the other shoulder is a practical and comfortable alternative. But carry as little as possible: (Eg one eyeshadow and mascara not an entire make-up bag. Buy a newspaper at the station and leave it on the train, don’t carry a book.)
4. Buying a week’s groceries and loading them into the car will aggravate the shoulder. Either accept the supermarket’s offer of packing and taking the goods to the car or shop more frequently or accept that the shoulder will hurt more that night and the following morning.
5. If your work requires you to do repetitive tasks (including typing or sitting at a computer screen) buy a cook’s timer, set it to go off after a maximum of an hour and move about or do something different when it goes off.
6. Get (or pay) someone else to do the housework. If you must do the occasional bit of housework buy a lightweight vacuum cleaner (Gtech do a good 1.5 kilo rechargeable one) and don’t do more than one room at a time. Don’t forget to set your timer.
7. Gardening is fine for me – but don’t overdo it.
8. If you are driving long distances, you may find it helps to take a break and do some stretching exercises en route. The same is true of long train and plane journeys, a walk up and down the train or plane will ease the shoulder
9. Watching television is more comfortable if you sit in a chair which supports your arm then if you sit on the sofa and let the arm droop.
10. A small cushion between your knees when you go to bed will stop you rolling over onto the affected shoulder and help ensure a good night’s sleep.
11. If you know you are going to wake up in pain in the night and not be able to get back to sleep it helps if you have a good book by the side of the bed and the bedside radio tuned to a favourite station. It’s easier to get back to sleep if you have something to take your mind off the pain.
12. If you normally sleep with somebody else starting off with them and moving to the spare bed if you need to is a sociable way of meeting your needs and theirs. A nightlight in the spare bedroom and the curtains ready drawn, book and radio at the ready makes this a welcoming rather than a miserable experience.
13. Sex – the other person will have to do more of the work – but you can still have a lot of fun.
14. You may find that you need more sleep than usual. The occasional early night or lunchtime nap can be really refreshing.
15. Try to get as much general exercise as possible. Walking is good basic exercise. This helps keep the rest of your body trim and fit.
16. If you can’t take part in your usual activities because of your shoulder then consider joining an evening class or taking up a new interest or hobby. Having something new to look forward to will help keep your spirits up and may provide longterm benefit.
16. Buy a couple of front fastening bras. You may not always want to wear one, but just having one available when you need it is very comforting.
17. Don’t carry a shoulderbag on the affected shoulder. A handbag gives you earlier warning of when you are overdoing it. If at all possible go shopping taking just a credit or debit card and a handful of loose change in a pocket. And don’t buy or carry very much at a time.
Your shoulder will get better over time and if you are gentle with it the healing process will be quicker and less painful. There is life both after and with frozen shoulder.
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