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Frozen shoulder

By Nickunj Malik - Feb 10,2016 - Last updated at Feb 10,2016

I had never heard of a frozen shoulder till I got one. Now, if you asked me about frozen Margarita, I knew everything there was to know about it: from the recipe to the flavours to the blackout-inducing hangover one suffered the next morning if one had too many helpings of it. But how a human limb froze, while it was still attached to the rest of the body, was a completely alien concept to me.

What had started as a niggling pain in my upper clavicle, in the next few weeks developed into a dull ache that spread all over my collarbone. A random survey of the “household remedies to fix everything” website on the Internet had me drinking gallons of warm milk, in which heaped spoonsful of turmeric powder was added. Other than staining my teeth deep yellow, the entire routine did nothing to alleviate my misery. It was time to visit the doctor.

The specialist sat me down and explained what my problem was. The bones, ligaments and tendons that made up my shoulder joint were encased in a capsule of connective tissue. This capsule had thickened and tightened around the shoulder joint, restricting its movement, which gave me a frozen shoulder. He was not sure why this had happened to me because it was more likely to occur in people who had diabetes or those who recently had to immobilise their shoulder for a long period, for instance, after surgery or an arm fracture.

The predicament developed slowly, and in three phases with each stage lasting for a number of months. The first was the freezing stage; any movement of the shoulder caused pain and the shoulder’s range of motion started to become limited. Second was the frozen state where the pain began to diminish during this time, but the shoulder became stiffer and using it was more difficult. Final was the thawing period where a range of motion in the shoulder began to improve. However, in the entire duration, the agony worsened at night and disrupted sleep.

The good doctor rattled off the entire account like he was reading out a news bulletin. In fact, he related the last line, which highlighted my nocturnal grief, with twinkling eyes and a short laugh, as if he had just delivered the punch line of a joke. When I looked at him in horror, he swiftly composed himself and told me to raise my arm. He had figured the easiest and best way to thaw my frozen shoulder, he muttered. And then he asked me, how many parties or social gatherings I attended every week? 

Three or four on an average, I told him. My raised limb was beginning to hurt but he did not allow me to lower it. Standing behind my chair, he moved my arm from left to right and then back, in a semi-circle sort of exaggerated wave. That is the way I must greet each person I met socially for the next few days, he instructed. In this manner, without taking any painful steroid injections or physiotherapy sessions I would get cured in a week’s time, he concluded.

“Flagging down a taxi?” my friend asked as soon as I greeted her. 

“Hello”, I waved my arm from side to side. 

“You okay?” she questioned. 

“Good evening,” I replied, moving my arm overhead again. 

“Shoulder froze?” she guessed. 

“Thawing the freeze,” I admitted. 


“With a new regal wave,” she smiled waving back at me.

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