I’ve been having pain in my left shoulder for about 6 months, starting kind of mild, and progressing to the point where now my range of motion (which is usually super hypermobile) is very limited and many movements are painful. I’d been seeing a PT for three months whom I see for my broader connective tissue disorder issues, but it wasn’t helping, so she sent me to go get it checked out by an ortho. Saw a shoulder specialist today who did his exam and immediately diagnosed me with frozen shoulder, which apparently is also linked to diabetes, particularly T1 diabetes (and especially common in women). I’m a little young for it (usually age 40+), but not by a lot. Although I hate cortisone shots, he talked me into getting one, since he acknowledged upfront it would mess with my blood sugars (unlike most doctors who have claimed it wouldn’t), but said he thought that despite that, it would be worth it for the amount he thought it would help. Given the pain is even interfering with sleep, I figured ok. So my blood sugars are probably going to be awful this week (planning on increasing my Tresiba dose tonight), but hopefully that plus some gentle PT that just involves stretching/range of motion exercises will help. Apparently frozen should typically resolves anyway when left alone, but that can take at least a year, so I’m hoping to speed it up.
Anyway, wanted to post this in case any other diabetics start having shoulder issues, since I was definitely not aware of the link between diabetes and frozen shoulder. It’s not entirely clear to me if the increase in adhesions in the capsule tissue in the shoulder is due to hyperglycemia over time, or if it may be autoimmune (especially since thyroid disorders also are linked to frozen shoulder). Seems like they really have very little idea why exactly it happens. Anyway, if anyone does start having persistent shoulder discomfort, see a good ortho sooner, rather than later! I wish I’d done this months ago.
I have had frozen shoulder in both shoulders (at the same time). I had a cortisone shot in one shoulder which did nothing. I then had arthrographic distention done where they inject saline and cortisone into your shoulder capsule under radiological guidance. I think that I had 3 treatments on each shoulder and then did physio following the treatments. It helped tremendously and allowed me to heal much faster. This was many years ago and I have not had a recurrence. I hope your recovery is quick.
I had frozen shoulder, back in 1990ish, just on right side. I was still on NPH,Reg MDI, and pretty much just followed Dr orders. Ortho Dr said to do cortisone, no mention of impact to BGs.
So of course my BG sky-rocketed, endo had no clue, so just kept adding more Regular insulin, bit by bit. But was probably 200-300 for 2 weeks before it started coming down.
Then did PT, and haven’t had any shoulder issues since.
To give an idea of how bad it got, I could not reach my back pocket, or reach the car radio controls, without excruciating pain. Stopped doing anything that was above shoulder level. Probably 8 months before I was back to normal range of motion.
This is my experience, from my second bout, in the other shoulder, which did not respond to various first-line treatments. This bout was also more limiting and painful than my first, and for several months I could not hold a knife, let alone chop or slice with it, so our diet changed radically. When nothing worked and I was told to get an MRI, I just sat back and waited. Sure enough, about a year later I was fine. I found that waiting period bearable – I was not by that stage in serious pain or debilitated or suffering poor sleep – and waiting it out with fingers crossed struck me as better than the risks and side effects of surgery or cortisone shots.
ETA: Incidentally, my frozen shoulders were accident-related, not linked to diabetes.
Thanks all for your support and well-wishes! Interesting seeing that it seems like many folks on here have indeed had frozen shoulder problems—it’s anecdotal but consistent with what my ortho and the research I skimmed said. Glad to hear it mostly or fully resolved for most people.
Blood sugars are definitely all sorts of off already—I just absorbed an extra 6 units of insulin going to bed last night like it was nothing, and that was after having 3 alcoholic drinks (why yes I did have a date the same night as getting my shoulder injected, why not right?), which usually would drive me low. Woke up in the 200s, haven’t eaten any carbs, and finally with still more insulin managed to get myself down currently to 133. I think this is going to be a super low carb week (and maybe one with a regular before bed drink or two?)… this is my 4th cortisone shot ever, so I was definitely prepared, but it’s still challenging. Will report back on whether it seems like it helped/was worth it—ortho said it won’t kick in in terms of effects on the joint for a few days.
Yeah, to be honest, the most noticeable range of motion loss has been when at times, I’ve been unable to fasten my bra clasp behind my back at all, limited now by both just absolute limits to range of motion and by intense/shooting pain. This is especially weird as someone who can typically touch any spot on my back with either single arm—I’m used to a shoulder that does whatever I want it to, even when it’s probably a bad idea, heh (I used to do contortions as a kid to weird people out, which in retrospect was terrible for my joints, but oh well).
My dad who is non-diabetic apparently had frozen shoulder in both shoulders at different points, so I’m wondering if there’s also a heritable risk factor working against me in addition to the diabetes. He did fully recover eventually in both shoulders though, so that’s good.
I decided a single cortisone shot was worth it mostly because of the current sleep interference, although if this doesn’t help, I won’t do any more. I definitely will NOT do any surgery—shoulder surgery seems to be one of those things that you generally want to avoid if at all possible, and given my connective tissue issues, that’s even more true. Would much rather wait it out than that, if it comes to it, and hope I get to the fully frozen stage (most limited range of motion, but at least less pain) soon.
@Cardamom, from the several cortisone shot threads we have seen, it seems that you are looking at more than 1 week but less than 2 weeks of troublesome BGs Imo it’s not a high price to pay if your comfort level, particularly at night, gets a lot better!
Yeah that timeframe sounds about right to me, athough I definitely was in much less tight control when I had the first two done (and was pre-Dex), so I think I had a less clear sense of it at the time. The last one if I recall correctly seemed to last a little over a week.
I had it on one side, and it took a year and a half to recover - then it happened to the other side. Really hard to get dressed or do much of anything for over 2 years. I never took a cortisone shot because my doctor said it wouldn’t help much. I did a lot of physical therapy. I am pretty much fully recovered. I very much appreciate being able to move my arms where I want them to go!!!
Sorry to hear it. It’s terribly painful and I’m sure limiting. @EricH has had it in both shoulders. He got excellent physical therapy from a woman in SF who’s well known for treating frozen shoulder specifically. Prior to that he couldn’t even shower without pain - washing under his arms was very difficult.
I’ve tried reaching out to him about her name but haven’t heard back. Hope you’re feeling better soon.
I don’t have personal experience with cortisone shots, but on another site someone was reporting on their experiences and said that Celestone (betamethasone) glucocorticoid about doubled their insulin needs, whereas Kenalog (triamcinolone acetonide) corticosteroid had no apparent effect on blood sugar. And both worked. So maybe there could be a choice of effective medicines, some of which may be significantly easier for those who have diabetes.
@bkh, this is fascinating. I never thought there may be differences. I woud love to find out how much of it is sample ONE and how much of it is generalizable: an effective corticosteroid with little impact on BG could be truly valuable to us all.
Interesting! Whatever I was given definitely increased my insulin needs (although nowhere near doubled), so I’ll ask when I go back exactly which it was, to add a data point to anecdata, as I like to call it.
I’ve also had frozen shoulder. About the steroid shot, my experience was that injected steroids are not nearly as bad as steroids taken orally, but it did increase my insulin needs for about 4 or 5 days. I also ran up and down the stairs a lot to bring down the persistent highs I got.
On the other hand, while the steroids might have had some benefit (decreasing pain a little and increasing range of motion) the effect was pretty modest, so, while I wouldn’t fear a steroid shot too much, I also would think that its skippable.
The orthopedic doctor I went to recommended surgery but I just did PT. I did it for about 4 or 5 months. Most of the time it didn’t seem to help that much, but then one day I went from tiny gains in range of motion to having a really big gain. I was able to raise my arm enough to shampoo my hair with that hand for the first time in a long time. I don’t know if the PT contributed to that breakthrough or if it would have happened anyway.
Now I have OK range of motion and almost no discomfort, although I have yet to recover the full range of motion I had before I got frozen shoulder. I was not super diligent about doing my PT exercises and I stopped going after I’d recovered a good range of motion. I sometimes wonder whether if I had stuck with PT I would have gotten all the range back.
At any rate, my experience is that this does pretty much go away. For me it took about 14 months. If you have the time and your insurance will cover it, I would do PT…if only because at the end they put your shoulder in a warm wrap and they leave you in a darkened room for 10 minutes to relax…or nap.
I would add that I went to two different physical therapists. The first one just didn’t seem that engaged. The second one was great. He read up about the latest frozen shoulder studies and just seemed really serious about his job. So, if you do do PT, don’t hesitate to change therapists until you find one that you like to work with and who seems to know what they are doing.
I would ask where they were getting this information. From their other, non-diabetic patients, who really wouldn’t know what was happening to their BG? I would think any steroid, taken in any dose in any form, would increase BG. I’m prescribed prednisone for asthma flare-ups. I’m supposed to take 40 mg daily for 10 days, but even if I have 10 mg for just one day, I need 30% more basal for a week.
Or massage therapy. It did nothing for my shoulder, but it was a very pleasant four months.
Or possibly from diabetic patients who do not closely monitor their glucose levels, which I think is true for many T2s (just less so the ones on forums) and some T1s (with very problematic effects). But yeah, I think it’s BS.
I know my insurance covers my PT for my CTD, but with a $40 co-pay, so probably only worth it if it helps. Although that would make for a cheap massage, if that would get covered, might be worth it! And @TTnyc, thanks, that’s all very good advice!
I was feeling better Tues/Tues night (slept without extra meds, yay), but last night back in pain and difficulty sleeping, so who knows. Dr. said it would take 3-4 days to take effect, so we will see… I’ve yet to ever feel like a cortisone shot was super helpful before, but my problems have been different in the past (inflamed bursa mostly), so figured it was worth a shot (pun not originally intended…). If it doesn’t do much, probably the last cortisone injection I’ll ever get talked into though.
I am reassured by all your stories that your shoulders improved with time (and possibly PT). For me, given that my shoulder is typically problematically hypermobile, I wonder if permanent more mild residual loss in mobility might actually not be a bad thing.