Arm Injury – Part 2

I’ve finally nailed the calcium deposits I had in my shoulders that I mentioned before. I actually found the cause of these calcium deposits, and it was surprising information.

Quick review, for some reason I formed two very painful calcium deposits in both of my lower shoulders. The left one was larger and more painful. The pain started last November for the left shoulder, and around last February for the right shoulder. During the summer these became so painful that I had to stop lifting weights altogether, which was irritating because of the gains I was making with my TRT.

I was further irritated to find that medical science currently has no idea why these deposits occur. They have nothing to do with exercise, diet, genetics, or vitamin intake. The only thing the doctors could guess is that I was moving my shoulders in a very specific and weird constant back-and-forth motion (which I never do).

My first thought was the deposits were caused by the TRT injections I was doing in my shoulders. Fortunately, x-ray results and the doctors assumed me this had nothing to do with it. The deposits were located in a completely different part of the shoulder from my injections, and injections have never been shown to cause such a thing.

My next theory was that I somehow caused these deposits because of incorrectly doing very heavy military presses during my workouts. Indeed, my shoulders would hurt worse after a shoulder day at the gym. Again though, my own research and the physical therapists said this wasn’t the case. Both the pain and the symptoms would have been very different, and calcium deposits take a long time to form, much longer than I had been lifting the heavy (3×5) routine I began a few months after starting my TRT.

I started going to acupuncture and this actually did help the pain. I also started doing a series of daily stretches. This increased the pain temporarily but after a few weeks also helped in bringing the pain down.

One day while talking to the acupuncturist, I mentioned that my shoulder pain was irritating because it made it uncomfortable to sleep. I always sleep on my side, with the lower arm pointing straight up under the pillow as I lay on it. Pointing my arm straight up like this always hurt like hell, particularly because my head was laying on it.

He told me that sleeping like this was probably making the problem worse, or at least more difficult to resolve, and that I should find a new sleeping position. Oh yeah, that’s just great. I’ve been sleeping like that for at least 30 years. It would be a difficult habit to break.

But I don’t like pain, so I did it. That night I went to bed and had a horribly uncomfortable night’s sleep. I tossed and turned all night, never comfortable, never knowing where to put my arms as I slept on my side or my stomach. I tried sleeping on my back too, but that didn’t work since I would always start breathing out of my mouth when I did that, waking myself up in the process.

The next morning I awoke, feeling like crap, having had very little sleep the night before. BUT! The pain in my shoulders was almost gone. Oh, it was still there if I moved my arms in certain weird ways, but it felt as good as it felt since the start of the problem last year. It was a world of difference.

I did some Googling later that day, doing research on various sleeping positions. I finally settled on one called the “yearner,” and started practicing that. It’s where you sleep on your side and stick both of your arms straight out, like a zombie. It felt very weird, but after about five or six days I was able to get back to a somewhat normal sleeping pattern.

I also jacked up the number of times per day I did my stretching from one to three. I kept going to acupuncture twice a week.

I’m now pretty much cured. This week is the first week of resuming my weightlifting after several months, and I couldn’t be more excited. There is still a very minor tightness when I move my shoulders a certain way, but other than that, I’m functional again. I also have a much increased range of motion on my shoulders I haven’t had for about a year.

I’m not going to do military presses for the time being. I’m going to switch to standing lateral raises. Gotta be a little gentler on my shoulders. Over time I can get back to military presses if I still want to.

The cause of all this crap? Based on all the information I now have, I’m 99% convinced I developed these calcium deposits over many years of sleeping with my arm up while my head was mashed against my shoulder all night and blocking much of the blood flow to that area. For some reason, my particular body chemistry reacted by creating calcium deposits. My left shoulder was far worse than my right, which didn’t make sense considering I’m right-handed. But guess what? The left side is the shoulder I usually sleep on.

My guess is that I had the calcium deposits for years and didn’t notice until I started hitting the hard military presses. That was the catalyst for the pain, though not the cause of the problem. That’s my theory anyway.

Based on my new range of motion, the calcium deposits are either completely gone or still there but much smaller. It’s fine if they stay there (they don’t cause health problems) as long as I keep stretching, which is something I’m going to start doing regularly. This entire experience has really made me aware of how stiff my body has become as I’ve aged, but I’ll save that for a future topic.

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  • Keith
    Posted at 01:00 pm, 24th September 2015

    One thing which I started because of jiu-jitsu but has really made a huge difference in really reducing all my joint pain to essentially zero is joint mobility. Lots of different ones but this one is easy to learn and just serves as a warmup to my lifting routine (i lift at home). There are beginner, intermediate and advanced ones but its fairly easy to just learn and do the advanced imo. I think they were about $10/each. I met the guy and am doing a seminar in El Salvador with him this December. He has a wealth of knowledge on staying fit and active regardless of age.


  • Caleb Jones
    Posted at 02:08 pm, 24th September 2015

    Yeah the challenge is to find a joint/stretching routine that doesn’t take too much time. I have several books on the subject and they all look look great (so does your link) but adding yet *another* item to my daily schedule is irritating. Gotta find something I can do in 10 minutes or less (if possible).

  • Keith
    Posted at 02:51 pm, 24th September 2015

    Yeah, they take about 10-12 min. Beginner is less and the advanced is maybe 12 min.

  • Wil
    Posted at 09:47 pm, 25th September 2015

    Hi Caleb, have you considered investing in a better mattress? I noticed that when I bought a decent mattress, sleeping on my back came natural to me. Also, it may make it more comfortable to have a pillow for the legs.

  • Caleb Jones
    Posted at 11:59 am, 26th September 2015

    I’ve got a really, really good mattress, but it might be time to replace the pillow-top. Good point.

  • Lachlan
    Posted at 03:24 am, 1st October 2015

    Just a thought Caleb – you might be deficient in the mineral boron. It’s been cut out of foods over the last thirty years or so. It helps regulate the calcium / magnesium balance and also transporting calcium out of the body.

  • Caleb Jones
    Posted at 09:42 am, 1st October 2015

    Hm. I’ll look into it.

  • Nate
    Posted at 02:58 pm, 5th October 2015

    As someone finishing up acupuncture school, I’m glad you tried it and got some good results. Should we consider you a believer in acupuncture now?

  • Caleb Jones
    Posted at 09:53 pm, 5th October 2015

    Should we consider you a believer in acupuncture now?

    Technically no. It’s entirely possible that the stretching I was doing plus the new sleeping position would have done the trick without acupuncture at all. Or, the acupuncture made the recovery speed along faster. No idea. So I’m still in the “not sure” category.

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