Ever since she was a teenager, Beverly Melvin had dreamed of owning a yellow convertible.
She finally got her wish on her 75th birthday, when her husband bought her a sporty little Porsche Boxster. “I love it,” the 78-year-old says. “Every chance I get, I put the top down.” But with a bad right shoulder, shifting gears on the manual transmission roadster was becoming increasingly difficult.
A former teacher, Beverly attributes her shoulder problems to the heavy load of books she had to carry in her briefcase. For nearly 50 years, she managed the pain with physical therapy. But about the time she got the Boxster, the pain intensified.
“If I did a lot of shifting I would really feel it,” the Callawassie resident says. “I think it aggravated my shoulder, but I wasn’t going to give up the car.”
|Shifting gears in her beloved convertible was causing Beverly serious pain, but physical therapy and cortisone shots have kept her on the move.|
Her orthopaedic surgeon, Edward Blocker, M.D., of Beaufort Memorial Orthopaedic Specialists, recommended a cortisone shot. Between the injection and her physical therapy, Beverly was pain-free for more than two years. Then this spring, the shoulder started acting up again, causing a deep, aching pain and reducing the range of motion in her right arm.
“We were getting ready to go to Ireland and I didn’t want to set off on the trip as badly as it was hurting,” Beverly says. Another round of cortisone relieved her pain and allowed her to return to the physical therapy that has kept it in check.
With a joint as complex and frequently used as the shoulder, many people will experience issues at some point. “The complaints I hear most from patients is that it hurts to sleep on their side or reach overhead or behind their back,” Blocker says. “They don’t always have a history of injury. Sometimes it’s just gradual onset of pain.”
Unless it’s an acute injury, shoulder pain is initially treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles. “Over time, the rotator cuff can get frayed and inflamed,” Blocker says. “It gets pinched between the bones, causing pain. It’s called impingement syndrome.” If the pain is severe, the patient may need a cortisone shot to be able to perform physical therapy exercises.
If your shoulder pain is waking you up at night or keeping you from doing the things you love, it may be time to see a physician. You can reach board-certified orthopaedic specialist Edward Blocker, M.D. at 843-522-7100.
Photo courtesy of Winter 2016 Living Well