I decided to write about my shoulder problem for the comedians who enjoy linking my Guitar Hero and Rock Band addiction to my shoulder. Hopefully this will clear up a couple of assumptions and/or misconceptions once and for all. :)
First... imagine not being able to raise your arm more than, say, a 60-70 degree angle in front of you. Imagine not being able to raise your arm out to your side more than shoulder height. Imagine not being able to reach behind you -- ever tried tucking your t-shirt in without reaching behind you? And if you DO try to go beyond these "limits" you are treated to a burning, cramp-like pain in your shoulder, that travels down your arm, increasing with intensity by the second, lasting for about 30-60 seconds (if you're lucky)
I can't describe how much this can hurt. There's nothing that I've experienced to compare it to. If I were to make an assumption, I suppose the closest would probably be like hitting your thumb with a hammer. Not a gentle tap. A full swing, capable of driving a railway spike into solid concrete. And you'll feel that pain a few times every day, if you're not careful.
Although my doctor is not sure what is wrong with my shoulder, and I do not recall exactly when it all started, what I AM sure of is that it was NOT caused by my addiction to Guitar Hero or Rock Band. In fact, my shoulder problem began two or three months before I even had the Xbox 360 that I play these games on. My shoulder feels fine, most of the time, within the "limitations" I mentioned above. This means that I have absolutely no problem playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band, as long as I'm not trying to imitate Pete Townshend or Neil Peart.
To date, I have had an X-ray and a cortisone shot. The X-ray showed no signs of any bone damage or calcium build up. The cortisone shot helped a little, but not as much as we had hoped. I am currently taking anti-inflammatory drugs and awaiting the results of an MRI that I had last Saturday morning.
My doctor suspects that it could be bursitis, or some kind of shoulder cuff injury. We'll hopefully know more after the MRI is done.
There are two incidents that I suspect either caused, or contributed to, the pain and the limited mobility of my left arm.
At the end of the summer, we participated in a small volley ball tournament held in our community. I recall that my shoulder was a little sore after that day, but not to the degree that it is now.
The other possibility was when I spent a couple of hours helping to move appliances about 3 or 4 months ago. Although it didn't hurt as much the following day, it did seem to progress from that point to where it's at now.
Could it be "old age"? If being over 40 is "old", then sure. I'm 42. My doctor said that shoulder problems can usually start at around 40. If you're nearing 40 and not having shoulder problems, your day will likely come... and if you think this is funny now, we'll see how funny it is then. :)