• Lydia Chu

Frozen Shoulder?

Updated: Jun 10, 2019

About 6 months ago, my younger sister was diagnosed with having Frozen Shoulder.

Angel Island, San Francisco 2018

Her condition had progressed to a point where she is not able to lift her arm past her shoulder and was dealing with limited range of motion and pain. My mother also had suffered from Frozen Shoulder about 15 years ago when she was in her sixties. Not knowing what was happening to her at the time, she had consulted with numerous doctors, but all she got was various different drugs which only gave her side effects that caused her more problems. For my mother, the inflammation had spread to her neck and head, and I watched her as suffered enormous amount of pain for years. She eventually recovered after about two years but never really regained the full mobility of her arm.


Well, not long after my sister told me about her condition, I, too, started noticing a discomfort in my right arm. At first, I thought it was an injury that I didn't know about. Then, I started noticing that any movement using my right arm was becoming difficult and there was some inflammation resonating from my right shoulder down to my wrist. At first, I thought maybe I hurt myself and was hoping that it would just go away with time (in denial). Well, it didn't just go away, and I was hearing more and more about how other people were having the same problem and sometimes resorting to surgery. Well, having seen what my mother went through and how the doctors could do nothing for her, I got very concerned so I decided to get proactive.


I discovered yoga back in 2017 when I was having some issues with my left leg. Even though I was still running and staying fairly active, my left leg was tightening up and got progressively worse over time. So, instead of running to the doctor's office, I decided to give yoga a try. After doing yoga three times a week for only 2 weeks, my leg problem completely disappeared and hadn't returned since then. It was pretty incredible. Then, around the same time I was experiencing problems with my leg, I was also experiencing some inflammation on my fingers. It took longer for the inflammation on my fingers to disappear but within couple of months of doing yoga, it had all disappeared as well. The benefits of doing yoga has been life changing for me. So, I was eager to see what would happen with my shoulder problem if I continued on with yoga.


Well, soon after I started having problems with my shoulder, I had to go on a family vacation for two weeks. I thought maybe if my problem was due to an injury ( still in denial), avoiding any rigorous exercise including yoga might help with the situation. Well, that didn't happen. Instead, my condition got significantly worse. It got to a point where I was having trouble lifting my arm and it was becoming increasingly painful. I really think my condition got worse because I had temporarily stopped doing yoga.


Having been pretty healthy all my life with no significant health problems, it was hard to swallow. I didn't want to believe that this could be happening to me. So, as soon as we got back from our vacation, I started going to yoga again. This time, I went 5 - 6 times a week instead of 2 -3 times a week. At first, I was having a hard time doing some yoga poses that wasn't a problem before like Child's Pose and anything that required for me to lift my arm high. Regardless, I kept at it, along with incorporating some simple home treatments on my own, to alleviate the pain and to prevent further reduction in mobility. I'm happy to report that I am 99% back to normal after just 3 months. I have a complete range of motion in my right arm, and all the discomfort and the inflammation I was experiencing before has completely disappeared. It took me almost 3 months to get better, but I believe without yoga and my home treatment, my condition could've been a lot worse as it has been the case for a lot of other people including my mother and sister.


What I'm realizing is this. I started having minor issues with my health about 3 years ago. Before then, I don't recall having any major health issues. I'm sure aging is a big part of it but more importantly, I believe it's the change in lifestyle that has contributed to my health issues. For almost twenty years, I ran a dry cleaning business where I had to be very active. I had to lift heavy load of clothes daily and be on my feet 8 - 10 hours a day along with riding my bike almost 10 -15 miles a day for getting around. This was part of my job and unknowingly, it kept my body agile and healthy.


For most of us, especially in our modern world today, we live a very sedentary lifestyle where a lot of us including children are sitting in front of the computer or television all day with very little activity. As for me, since I sold my dry cleaning stores (I had 4 stores total at one point), my activity level has decreased dramatically. My daily activities at my current store involves only walking few distance within the store and requires almost no heavy lifting. Even with my conscious effort to stay active, my activity level is no near where it had been in the past. I truly believe this is why I started having issues. Even though I didn't go see a doctor and was never diagnosed, I believe my condition was in the beginning stage (freezing stage) of Frozen Shoulder. If I hadn't practiced yoga for the past year, I believe my condition would have been far worse. I'm so glad I was able to discover the powerful benefits of yoga.

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