Updated: Jan 3
Frozen Shoulder, also known as Adhesive Capulitis is a pathology that severely limits the range of motion of the shoulder and causing pain. This can naturally occur or be post-trauma such as a fall or surgery. This happens gradually and slowly worsens going through 3 phases that can usually last between 12-18 months.
What causes Frozen Shoulder?
The shoulder joint has a capsule of connective tissue that surrounds the bones, ligaments, and tendons. Frozen Shoulder occurs when the capsule around the joint thickens and tightens reducing range of motion.
While there is no data as to why this occurs it often happens in people who have diabetes and due to trauma or surgery immobilize their arm for a long period of time. This pathology is more common people in women and people who are 40 and over.
What are the 3 Stages of Frozen Shoulder:
Frozen Shoulder tends to happen in 3 stages and each phase can last for months:
Freezing Stage: Movement of the shoulder causes pain and shoulders range of motion becomes limited.
Frozen Stage: Pain is reduced during this time but shoulder becomes even stiffer and is difficult to use.
Thawing Stage: Range of motion slowly improves.
Common Treatments for Frozen Shoulder
Frozen Shoulder will naturally take it's course and heal over 12-18months, some can take longer though and other invasive options may want to be pursued. In the meantime seeing a Physical Therapist for exercises to move the joint around is highly recommended and sticking to a movement and exercise plan. For the pain over the counter anti-inflammatory can be used to manage discomfort during the early stages.
How Massage can help with Frozen Shoulder:
Massage Therapy is a way to treat soft tissue dysfunctions and can be used to help with pain and potentially help with the recovery process.
Stretching: Sports massages often use stretching techniques to move the joints through range of motion and expanding on their elasticity. This is extremely effective when using neuromuscular techniques like contract/relax and reciprocal inhibition which allows the muscles to stretch further. Communication is crucial between the massage therapist and client to ensure proper safety and not exceed their altered range of motion.
Trigger Point Therapy: After overuse or post trauma muscle tissue can create muscular knots or lumps which are very sensitive contractions of fibers. These can lead to spasms, pain, and decreased range of motion. By applying the appropriate pressure to the trigger points you can decrease they symptoms hopefully leading to a speedier recovery.
Cupping: Cupping a great way to manipulate soft tissue but has a variety of other benefits as well. Some of the best reasons to use cupping would be to do what is known as Myofascial Decompression(MFD). Myofascial Decompression involves moving the joint through range of motion with static cups to get a deeper engagement of the tissue. Other benefits is that cupping can boost circulation and stimulate lymphatic drainage at deeper levels which is crucial when working on connective tissue.
Soft Tissue Manipulation: Massage can help release overactive muscle and release endorphins in the body. This is a natural way to decrease pain in the shoulder and can be used to work on the surrounding tissue that may be affected by this pathology.
How P-DTR can help with Frozen Shoulder:
P-DTR can assess the surrounding tissue and the shoulder joint muscles within your range of motion. By making sure your shoulder tissue is operating at the best of it's ability we can maximize movement exercises and help to gradually increase range of motion. Frozen shoulder still needs to go through its natural phases but this can help speed up the process related to pain and arrange of motion.
Client experience: I had a client who had gone through trauma induced frozen shoulder. When she found me she had was through or near the end of the thaw stage. However all the muscles still yielded pain in certain motions and extensibility of the tissue was not what it used to be. Through just a 60 min session with P-DTR assessing and treating key rotator cuff muscles, deltoids and other supporting muscles I was able to increase the range of motion to its normal state and eliminate the pain. While she may had been near the end of the thaw stage where body still created compensation patterns to go about her daily life. P-DTR allowed us to reset those patterns so she could use her shoulder to its fullest.
When To Seek Help?
Frozen Shoulder is a condition that can create a lot of pain and affect your daily life and activities. Making sure you have a proper diagnosis is crucial for proper recovery. If you have any of the symptoms please visit your doctor. They may ask if about your recent or past injuries as well as any activities that aggravate your condition.
Preventing Frozen Shoulder
Frozen shoulder usually happens due to some trauma and lack of movement after set trauma such as maybe a fall or surgery. Key components to making sure it doesn't happen in the first place is making sure to utilize active daily movement, stretching before and after working out, and maintaining good posture in your daily life. Making sure to maintain rehabilitation exercises post trauma is also crucial to ensuring proper healing of the joint.