Frozen Shoulder, also called adhesive capsulitis, is very painful. It is the terminology used to describe pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. Those who have Frozen Shoulder will not be able to move their arm in any direction without pain; some will not be able to move their effected arm at all, giving it the “frozen” name.
It is uncertain as to why the shoulder joint is the only joint in the body that can become stuck or frozen in this manner. However, Frozen Shoulder is often not permanent. In many cases, it can take 1-3 years to regain full range of motion in the shoulder without any pain. Those who take an active role in engaging in treatments tend to regain full range of motion with minimal to no pain in about 12-18 months.
So how do we help this Frozen Shoulder get unstuck? Here are a few things you can do on a consistent basis that can help alleviate the pain and stiffness and work on getting the Frozen Shoulder unstuck:
Stretching & Strengthening Exercises – Simply not moving your arm in fear of pain is not going to help you in speeding up your recovery. The non-movement of the joint is just adding to the immobility and prolonging the results of full functionality. Start with slow and gentle movements. Work with your current range of motion. If you can only move it in an inch in any direction, then start with just doing micro movements within the one inch radius. Repeat the exercises frequently. Over time you will begin to progress and be able to make bigger movements as your shoulder begins to become unstuck. Here is a link to some stretching and strengthening exercises that you can do to help with your Frozen Shoulder: https://www.health.harvard.edu/shoulders/stretching-exercises-frozen-shoulder
Get Massage Therapy Treatments – Massage is long known for helping to reduce pain and stiffness. Massage can help warm up and relax the muscles and surrounding tissues of the shoulder joint and help regain mobility. Massage increases circulation and blood flow to the area and helps reduce scar tissue that may develop around the shoulder joint. Basic Swedish and Deep Tissue techniques can have great effects of the painful shoulder. Finding a therapist who can also incorporate other techniques, such as Trigger Point, Myofascial, or Tui Na can have an even added effect to treating your Frozen Shoulder, as they can focus on more direct points to release muscle tension, “knots”, and allow the body to relax and unwind even more.
Receive Acupuncture Treatments – Acupuncture and Massage Therapy really go hand in hand and complement each other tremendously. Tui Na Massage follows the same Traditional Chinese Medicine principals as Acupuncture, but Acupuncture uses needles to more directly address Qi-points (like Trigger Points). Acupuncture is extremely effective in relieving shoulder pain, but it can be quite uncomfortable as these needling spots are very tender and you may feel referring sensations throughout the body. If you do not receive massages, you should definitely get Acupuncture treatments. If you can incorporate both in an alternating fashion, even better!
When dealing with Frozen Shoulder, and helping it become unstuck, consistency is very important. Follow your doctor’s recommendations on how frequently you should do the stretching and strengthening exercises and for how many repetitions you should do for each exercise. Adding Massage Therapy and Acupuncture Treatments will aid in reducing the pain and stiffness and help in recovery process as well.
Frozen Shoulder is very painful and can limit you in your daily activities, especially if it affects your dominate arm, and can make sleeping difficult, which can lead to other health related issues. Instead of feeling hopeless, become proactive with your recovery. It can take years to regain full range of motion without pain, but it is possible.