BEING Old, Rusty & Calcified :-)

Sane people would have stayed home last night. Crazy people decided to to watch a hockey game of my 2nd favourite team :-) The team lost, rightfully so, so it maybe wasn’t really worth it. Usually I’m the designated driver, but I declined to drive in this weather and luckily Bro1 had to drive himself anyway and could take Bro2 and Bro3, while I could take a ride with Bro1’s girlfriend (and her mom and another fan). So all was well… it took quite a while to get to the hockey rink, but we didn’t encounter any problems on the road. We just had to drive slower and more careful than usual.
I spent over an hour this morning with clearing the sidewalk and the path to the garbage bins from all the snow that fell in the night. A lot of snow and it hasn’t stopped since. I’ll probably shovel some more this afternoon before I head over to my mom’s for the family christmas. I already mentioned that I don’t mind the snow that much, I sort of like the adventurously aspect of it all. If it just wouldn’t happen durng my “snow duty week”, because it sucks to be out there early every morning during my vacation.

The pain in my shoulder didn’t get any better over the last few days whether I tried putting heat on it (like my GP suggested at first) or ice (like I used to do it when I had the inflamation in my hip in the summer). I was lucky to be able to see another doctor yesterday and that this practice hadn’t already closed for the holidays. It was not a 100% orthopedic surgeon’s practice, but a surgeon who also treats – among others – orthopedic problems. The German health system is weird, I know. Anyway, he treated the bursitis in my hip in the summer, so I knew he’d could deal with this as well :-)

He did some x-rays of the shoulder and a sonogram, even though the x-rays already gave a pretty clear diagnosis. I have a calcific tendonitis (in German Kalkschulter). I never heard of something like that before, so I was a bit stunned. The doc was nice, but blunt. Still in a nice way. He mentioned that it could be resolved with a surgery, but he would not advice that yet. He didn’t really tell me what he would suggest as a treatment instead and I was too stunned to ask a lot of questions. Any questions at all.
He was surprised that I still had a rather ok range of shoulder movement with this amount of calcium deposits visible on the x-rays. He also looked at me and said I had a obvious disproportion of muscle mass (more in the right arm as in the left, which is weird, because I’m a leftie). He also said that I needed to strengthen these muscles and put on more muscle mass. I had planned to go to the Kieser Training (which is basically muscle strengthening training anyway) more often in the next year. He said that’d be ok and just adviced me to take some ibuprofen. When I asked him if I should rest the arm, which he didn’t think necessary. I should take some ibuprofen for the pain and the inflamation and then I was sent home. Mmmh…. Like I said, I was a bit stunned. But when I thought about it on my way home, I at least had an explanation why at this Kieser Training I recently always thought: It’s weird that the movements seem to be harder to do with the left arm. Probably the calcium deposits already caused that, but it didn’t hurt, so I didn’t pay much attention.

At home I consulted the omniscient Dr. Google and found quite a few medical sites with information. I’m too lazy to explain it in all detail here, so I just link to some information at the end of this post. In short: I have calcium deposits in the shoulder joint, where the tendons are attaced to the shoulder. These deposits might not cause any problems for a long time or ever, but once they get too big they block the movement of the shoulder and/or cause inflamation of the tendons, which causes the pain. In most cases these calcium deposits might resolve, which will cause even more inflamation and more pain (I’m wondering if I’m in this stage at the moment *sigh*) and disappear. They might return some day, so it can be a vicious cylce. I was relieved to read that this wasn’t caused by something I did (or didn’t do… like work out more), but that it could happen to anyone for any reason. It’s most likely caused by a restricted blood flow and thus oxygen level to this part of the body. But so far no one really knows for sure what causes it.

There are various treatment options (non-surgical and surgical) and as my GP and the orthopedic surgeon in my small town won’t be back at work until Monday 3rd January for me to consult with I guess I’ll have rely on the stuff Dr. Google tells me. (Oh well and of course the doc that gave me the diagnosis).
Take ibuprofen for the pain and as anti-inflammatory medication. Also as anti-inflammatory medication Voltaren gel. And of course ice packs. Rest the shoulder. Even though the opinions seem to differ on that one. The doc I saw, said I needn’t to. I just should not move the arm above 90 degree, like over-head. (As if I could at the moment!) I read online that if the shoulder isn’t moved though it might get more and more difficult to move it later on, so I’m not so sure about it. I try to avoid the really painful movements so far, but not have it immobilised completely, because I realized that it’s a lot more painful to move the shoulder after I haven’t moved it for a while. Like sitting huddled watching hockey last night. Shoveling snow this morning went ok, as long as I didn’t move the left shoulder too much.
I’ll have to talk to my GP about it all and get a referral to the orthopedic surgeon. In most cases professional physical therapy can also help to strengthen the shoulder (muscles and tendons). I just hope I’ll get through the rest of this year without too much pain and maybe it will resolve by itself over the next few days. I really hope I’m already in the stage, where the calcium deposits start to resolve themselves, because I don’t want to imagine the pain to get worse. I have slightly paranoid fear of taking too painkillers for too long, even though it’s just ibuprofen 600 *sigh* And now I have to get some more Voltaren Gel and a new icepack :-)

Calcific Tendonitis (in English)

Kalkschulter (in German)

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