Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


Six weeks ago I had thermal shrinking of my shoulder done. I'm supposed to be able to take my sling off and increase the use of my arm but my neck keeps going into painful spasms. Is this normal?


It's not uncommon, but it's also not "normal." The muscles often respond with protective splinting and guarding after surgery or immobilization. Sometimes the muscles develop trigger points. These are irritable spots in the muscles that can set off pain and spasm.

Even though it seems like movement makes it worse, sometimes movement is just what you need. Gentle, slow, repetitive motions can often "re-set" the nervous system and help the muscles relax. You may need some outside help as well. Massage therapy is one option. Physical therapy can offer electrical stimulation, movement therapy, and trigger point release.

In most states you can go to a massage therapist or physical therapist without seeing your doctor first. After surgery of any kind, it's always a good idea to ask your doctor's opinion. It's best not to do anything that will affect the results of the operation.

William N. Levine, MD, et al. Thermal Capsulorrhaphy. In Orthopedics. August 2004. Vol. 27. No. 8. Pp. 823-826.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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