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One of the things that astounds (or maybe confounds) me is the rapidity at which my shoulder joint disintegrated. Six months ago it was fine.


Okay, the truth is the shoulder has given me trouble in the past, and in 2007 I had surgery to relocate the long tendon on my biceps. However, the surgery fixed the problem. I went through physical therapy after the surgery and rebuilt both a good range of motion and strength in my left arm.


Then in September 2008 I had my right hip replaced. During that recovery and rehabilitation process, I used my upper body more extensively than I had previous to the surgery. I pushed myself up in bed using my arms, I used a walker for a couple of weeks, then used a cane – with my left arm – for a while. During this time I noticed that my left shoulder was sore, but I thought it was just because I had been using it more and that once that activity had stopped, things would go back to normal.


At my 3-month checkup with my orthopedic surgeon for my hip, I told him that my hip was doing great, but that my shoulder hurt. At that point I had started to lose some range of motion and had pain when I tried to use it or sleep on that side. By December 31, the range of motion was limited to being able to raise my arm out to my side about shoulder height. A month later, I could only raise it about half that height. I’m a little less than that now, and I can’t put my hand behind my back at all.


When I first complained to my orthopedic guy, he took an X-ray of the shoulder and didn’t note any narrowing of the cartilage. There was a small bone spur, but that had been there the year before without apparent change. This was about December 1. The X-rays and CT scan that I had done last week (about 3 months later) showed pretty much complete destruction of the cartilage, plus the damage to the glenoid.


I guess I didn’t notice it as much because it’s my non-dominate arm and it only hurt when I tried to use it so I quit using it as much.


What’s really scary to me is that I have other joints – such as my knees – that hurt worse. I’m afraid to go look at them. Since I’ve been off the Humira the past week or so, most of my joints have been complaining. Last night it was after 2:00 am before I could go to sleep and that was after I had taken additional pain medication on top of my normal Celebrex. When I finally do get back on the medication, I’ll no doubt have to “build up” the benefits again over a couple of months.


The point is, as disturbed as I am about losing my shoulder, I’m even more concerned about the future. It took less than six months to destroy my shoulder – and that’s a major joint. What do you suppose is happening to my fingers, and ankles, and spine?


Hopefully my recovery will be swift and I can get back on medication that may be able to slow down the progression of the disease. I can only hope.