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Teri Hatcher's mystery illness: Frozen shoulder

Karen Hawthorne is a health and lifestyle writer and producer in Toronto, Canada. Her work has appeared in print and online for publications including Glow, Homemakers, BestHealthMag.ca and the National Post.

Desperately fighting frozen shoulder

Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher is battling a debilitating and rare condition that has rendered her left arm practically useless, she told Extra TV. Now the actress wants to spread awareness about the problem and let people know it’s not slowing her down on a charity project to fight child hunger.

Teri Hatcher

The risk of developing frozen shoulder increases if you're recovering from a medical condition or procedure that affects the mobility of your arm, such as a rotator cuff injury, stroke or a mastectomy, the Mayo Clinic says. Doctors can't pinpoint the exact cause, but explain that the bones, ligaments and tendons that make up your shoulder joint are encased in a capsule of connective tissue. Frozen shoulder occurs when this capsule thickens and tightens around the shoulder joint, restricting its movement.

Hatcher treated with cortisone

Hatcher says the illness is extremely painful and she is being treated with cortisone shots. As she puts it, "I'm not asking for sympathy or anything, it could be much worse, but [it restricts ordinary activities, like] when you take away something like being able to pick up a bag," Extra reports. "I really can't wait 'til it's gone so I can just exercise like crazy again, because I sort of miss it."

The Bread Art Project

Hatcher is adamant that the illness won't stop her momentum. She's helped launch a charity campaign called the Bread Art Project to fight child hunger, where people personalize virtual pieces of toast for a good cause. For every artful piece submitted, one dollar goes to the nonprofit organization Share Our Strength. Visit breadartproject.com for details.

Treatment for frozen shoulder

Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, can help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with frozen shoulder. Your doctor may prescribe stronger anti-inflammatory drugs, such as corticosteroids and numbing medications, injected into the joint capsule to relieve pain. Other treatment involves stretching exercises and, in some cases, surgery to loosen the joint capsule so that it can move freely again.

Alternative treatments For Frozen Shoulder

Acupuncture: This is a traditional Chinese treatment where fine needles are inserted in your skin at specific points on your body. Typically, the needles remain in place for 15 to 40 minutes.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): A TENS unit delivers a tiny electrical current to key points on a nerve pathway. The current, delivered through electrodes taped to your skin, is thought to stimulate the release of pain-inhibiting molecules known as endorphins, or to block pain fibers that carry pain impulses.

Keep on moving -- Just like Hatcher

If you're experiencing shoulder pain, talk to your doctor. The Mayo Clinic advises you to keep moving: "Continue to use the involved shoulder and extremity in as many daily life activities as possible within the limits of your pain and range-of-motion constraints. Applying heat or cold to your shoulder can help relieve pain."

For more on Hatcher's TV interview, visit www.ExtraTV.com.

Frozen shoulder exercises

Watch this video for frozen shoulder stretching ideas. These exercises can help relieve shoulder pain, loosen up scar tissue in the shoulder joint and improve flexibility.

More on women's health issues

Easing joint and back pain
The truth about back pain
Commonly misdiagnosed health issues for women

Photo credit: FayesVision/WENN.com
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