AC/DC – Hydrodilatation of my Adhesive Capsulitis (Frozen Shoulder)

[imported from Myspace] Current mood:optimistic

WARNING: Boring account of my medical procedure – hardly any music related content at all!

Well, it wasn’t so bad after all, so thanks for all your prayers!

I have frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) – my right shoulder, and it has seriously affected my guitar playing and other activities for over six months now. I can play guitar standing up, but sitting down it’s very awkward and painful. I can do it, but it’s just not easy to pick up the guitar and play a bit casually for fun, so it’s been quite restrictive. In fact if you look at this video of me at you can see that I look a little uncomfortable, and that’s with the little Django guitars. With a big dreadnought it’s very painful indeed. I seriously considered selling my big guitar and getting a little “parlor guitar”, which kind a appeals to me anyway, but I digress…

I went to see an orthopedic surgeon recently and he said that because my AC was very severe (almost complete seizing up of the joint) and because I was male (it’s much more common in women) he recommended treatment, as opposed to just waiting to see if it gets better.Animated DC Cardwell with Epiphone

Well, today I had a procedure called “hydrodilatation“. Under X-ray guidance they inject a mixture of anaesthetic, steroids and saline into the joint to try and break up all the fibrous tissue that’s preventing its movement. I had heard from several reliable sources that it’s very painful, and even the doctor performing the procedure told me that it would hurt a lot, and that they would keep adding the fluid until the pain got so bad that they had to stop.

So that was very encouraging… not! I didn’t mind the thought of the pain so much, but I was worried that they would stop the procedure too early, and thus make it less effectual.

As it turned out though, it really wasn’t too bad at all – there was a very weird feeling of my arm weighing a ton, and almost like it was “fainting”, but not much actual pain at all, so before I knew it the doctor announced that all the fluid was in there and it was all over.

Now I have to wait a few days and then undergo physiotherapy to loosen up the joint. My doctor friend who has done this quite recently warns me that if the physio doesn’t hurt like crazy, they’re not doing their job right!

Oh well – it looks like I can’t escape some pain. Let’s hope there’s some gain!

The good news is… the doctor said I had to avoid anything at all strenuous for a few days, but he said it was OK to use the computer. Never mind that my right hand feels like it’s all ballooned up and the anesthetic is starting to wear off in my shoulder, at least my virtual life online can continue!

~ DC


About DC Cardwell
Singer-Songwriter. Please go to

2 Responses to AC/DC – Hydrodilatation of my Adhesive Capsulitis (Frozen Shoulder)

  1. Olaf says:

    So how did it turn out in the long run? I am struggling with a frozen shoulder as well for several months now and would like to know if you would do the “hydrodilatation” again from today’s perspective.


  2. dccardwell says:

    Hi Olaf. I recovered very well – I’d say my arm has regained about 90% of its range, and I hardly every have any pain in my shoulder. However, I should point out several things:

    – I was very careful to do physiotherapy AND the prescribed exercises very faithful for a long time – many months.

    – In the end, I actually had hydrodilatation twice on the right shoulder – after the first one I recovered to some extent, but then the improvement stopped and the specialist recommended that I undergo the procedure a second time. The improvement didn’t seem so marked after the second time, but it did continue to gradually improve.

    – In the end, it took about as long to recover as most articles said it would take if let run its natural course!

    – I probably wouldn’t have done so may courses of physiotherapy OR the hydrodilatation if I’d had to pay for it. But my job’s “workcover” insurance covered the cost of all the treatments.

    – By the time my right shoulder had got functionally quite well, I developed the same thing in my left shoulder! This time, it didn’t bother me quite so much as it wasn’t my dominant arm and it didn’t affect my guitar playing very much. And I had quit my job by this stage so I didn’t have any insurance coverage for it and would have had to (a) pay for physiotherapy and partly pay for doctor’s appointments (b) wait a long time for hydrodilatation. So this time I didn’t do anything at all! I didn’t even do the exercises. I felt that it did take longer to get better, and it also seemed to stall at what I’d consider about 60% of its range, and when I lifted my arm my shoulder still rose with it. However, I had ketamine infusion treatment treatment last year for back trouble (see, and a few weeks after I had that, I noticed that my left arm was pretty much better! I don’t think any doctor will prescribe five days of ketamine drip for your shoulder, though! But it seemed to do the trick for me.

    – I’ve since read some online articles which suggest that some very gentle exercise can be as good for frozen shoulder as anything, and I wouldn’t doubt it at all. It seems counter-intuitive, when you read about the masses of “adhesions”, but from all my reading, I did start to believe that it could be true.


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