Posted by: Jan | May 6, 2010

My Shoulder Doesn’t Hurt

My shoulder doesn’t hurt. 

What does that have to do with CPAP?

 Probably nothing, maybe everything.

 If you read personal stories about CPAP, you will find people who have had veritable “cures” of their arthritic and fibromyalgic pain with CPAP. 

 There’s no science to back this up—yet—but I’m hearing doctors aren’t necessarily ruling this out as a benefit (maybe because they want you to try CPAP for any reason you will to get the other, documented health benefits???).  Yesterday on the Dr. Dean Edell radio show, a caller asked if CPAP could have anything to do with the fact that pain in her arthritic knees has resolved.  While his primary opinion was that it may have to do with less tossing and turning, he didn’t totally rule out the positive effect of better oxygen profusion having something to do with it. 

 There’s a lot of anecdotal  evidence out there that CPAP does reduce chronic pain and inflammation, so it will be interesting to see if science eventually backs this theory up.

 As for me, I have chronic pain in my left shoulder primarily. 

 I was 41 when my youngest daughter was born, and pregnancy is tough on an “old lady”.  Actually, I LOVED being pregnant at that age.  Your body secretes a hormone called something like “relaxin” to help soften the pelvis for the baby’s trip through the birth canal—and it actually works all over to relax your joints.  A lot of the aches and pains I had before pregnancy (and which came back with a vengeance after pregnancy) were gone during pregnancy.  They ought to bottle up and sell that hormone (as long as its side effects don’t include frequent urination, heartburn, weight gain, heat intolerance, stretch marks, and all the other lovely “side effects” of pregnancy ;o).    

I probably had a little shoulder pain from overuse and misuse in the rather physical job I held at the time, before pregnancy.  But shortly after my youngest was born, I had bilateral frozen shoulders—extremely painful and debilitating.  The right shoulder was worse than the left at the time, and it got all the attention in therapy because I had almost no movement in it at all.  Eventually, the right shoulder improved, but the left shoulder, which was neglected in therapy and over-used to compensate for the right one, has continued to cause me pain for all these years since (my youngest is 9).  It hurt all the time, and worse some times than others.  Nights were especially painful, trying to find a comfortable position for the shoulder in bed. 

So, I started CPAP.  At first, everything was worse.  As I struggled with various masks, I’d have to assume awkward sleeping positions and not move all night, just to prevent leaks.  I’d wake up stiff as a board and in pain all over, particularly my neck, back, and left shoulder. 

My back was becoming a problem.  I know the drill, so I put myself on a two week course of Naproxen and then tapered off of it slowly.  Usually I get adequate, but not total pain relief with Naproxen.  And at the end of the two weeks, my back was still a little sore.  But my shoulder was wonderful.  And three weeks later, I’m still not having shoulder pain—not a twinge.  It’s a very nice thing.  (My back is better, too). 

Occasionally I get “vacations” from pain.  When my respiratory problems get dire, they put me on Prednisone, and my favorite side effect is a month or so of no shoulder pain.  Sometimes I’ve allowed the doctor to inject my shoulder with cortisone and I get a similar respite.  But most of the time, I just live with a lot of pain.  A LOT of pain!

So was it the good course of Naproxen?  I don’t know.

The weather (no matter what medical science says, my joints ache more in damp, cold weather!) is better, but last week it was rainy and cold.  I often have less pain in the warm summers (but notice an increase on our foggier nights and cooler mornings), so the change of seasons might be a factor.

 Or, it could be a coincidence.

This is a short time so far—I’d say the jury is still out.

But if it does turn out to be another benefit of CPAP, I’ll take it–more incentive to put up with the discomfort and inconvenience.  Works for me!



  1. I would love to have some relief from my knee pain. I think it will take more than the CPAP but I think if I feel more rested and energetic, I may start walking more or exercising a bit, and the weight I have put on particularly in the past year may decrease and ultimately benefit my knees. I know the CPAP and the decreased weight won’t do a thing about the years of abuse that crawling on the floors with babies have done to my poor joints but if I can decrease the pain to previous level rather than the level of the past year, I will be happy. CPAP has so far allowed me to wake up headache free ( amazing what a little extra Oxygen in your lungs at night will do for your head!) and I am waking with my alarm rather than in a panic an hour or more later! Your blog is great, keep it coming.

  2. Thanks for your kind comments, Sharon!

    I hope the CPAP does help with your pain eventually. I’m fortunate that shoulders do not have to be weight bearing joints, so I think it’s easier to get relief.

    Since I’ve been on CPAP my back and hips are bothering me–it’s not helping with that! I think it might be contributing because I sometimes sleep in awkward positions to try to keep the mask from leaking.

    Anyway, feeling better is great, and as you ramp up your activity and decrease weight you may feel the benefits in your knees.

    Isn’t it great to wake up feeling so nice? It’s like a drug with no bad side effects. I love it and it keeps me putting on that mask every night.

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