Should I move my frozen shoulder? Why do my hernias hurt?

What can I do about my frozen shoulder?

I've been diagnosed with frozen shoulder and would appreciate any info or advice on its cure. Should I try to carry on normally, forcing the shoulder into painful positions? Or should I avoid any movement that causes pain?

Shoulders seize up for a variety of reasons – often the most minor of injuries or strains. The shoulder capsule seems to stiffen up and prevent the joint from moving freely. If you try to move a frozen shoulder it can be incredibly painful, but if you don't move it at all, it tends to get even stiffer. Gentle exercise is certainly better than no movement. Frozen shoulders go through three stages: freezing, frozen, and thawing. If you are in the "freezing" stage, you may be able to benefit from both physiotherapy and a local injection of steroid. Many GPs are able to give these injections, but if yours is not able to do this, ask for a quick referral to a rheumatologist. If you wait until the shoulder is completely frozen, then you may be in for a long period of immobility and pain before it finally "thaws" naturally. The Arthritis Research Campaign publishes an excellent leaflet "The Painful Shoulder". Go to order a copy online.

How can I alleviate painful hernias?

I n July 1984 I had left and right inguinal hernias repaired separately. In October 2004 they were repaired again with a single mesh. Since January 2006 I have had constant severe pain in my right testicle (treated with Pregabalin). In early July this year I developed pain down both legs and I now have to walk very slowly. I believe the mesh is snagging nerves – is it possible to remove it?

Inguinal hernias are bulges that appear in the groin that are caused by a muscular weakness in the wall of the abdomen. The bulge is actually a loop of intestine that begins to escape from where it belongs. In the past 10 years it has become popular to repair these hernias using a synthetic mesh made of material similar to surgical sutures. It forms a mechanical wall, and the body's tissues heal around it and keep it in place. The pain that you are getting sounds like it is coming from nerves. They may be "snagging" in the mesh, or they may have got involved in scar tissue separate from the mesh. Mesh can be removed, but usually this is only done if an infection sets in. If your mesh is removed, there is no guarantee that the pain will go away. And a third operation will make it more likely that the hernia will recur.

Please send your questions and suggestions to A Question of Health, The Independent, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; fax 020-7005 2182; or e-mail health@ Dr Kavalier regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions.

Readers write

JW has stern advice for the mother whose son has breathing problems but is afraid to see the doctor:

This child does indeed have a worrying problem: a parent who is afraid of taking his or her child to a doctor. The boy might be afraid now, but he should learn to trust his doctor. What happens in the future when he finds a funny lump somewhere that might kill him?