Are you experiencing severe stiffness and pain in your shoulder? You may have frozen shoulder syndrome (FSS). Also known as adhesive capsulitis, symptoms and signs of the condition typically manifest gradually and worsen over time. In some cases, frozen shoulder syndrome can linger from one to three years.
If you just recovered from a procedure or medical condition that hindered you from moving your arm(s), you are at a higher risk of developing FSS. One classic example are stroke victims. Some people who have had a stroke are left partially or completely paralysed on one side of their body. The extended immobility of the shoulder can result in development of frozen shoulder syndrome.
In many cases, frozen shoulder syndrome develops slowly and is classified into 3 stages. Each of the stages can last for several months at a time, or longer.
Freezing stage. At this stage, the shoulder’s range of motion becomes limited. In addition, any movement of the affected shoulder can cause sharp or substantial pain.
Frozen stage. At this stage, pain may decrease. However, the shoulder and surrounding soft tissues can also become more rigid. Additionally, achieving normal range of motion can also become more difficult.
Thawing stage. At this stage, the shoulder’s range of motion will improve and generally pains will become less severe.
While there are some known correlations, the development of frozen shoulder syndrome is not always understood in some cases. As mentioned earlier, if you suffer from conditions or injuries which immobilises the shoulder for a long period, you are more prone to developing the condition.
Other trauma or impact to the shoulder, surrounding muscles and soft tissues, or nearby spinal segments may also lead to development of FSS. Even long term postural issues or repetitive stress movements affecting the shoulder, arm, or upper spine may increase tension and lead to scar tissue formation which may lead to this condition.
So what exactly happens during FSS? Ligaments, bones, and tendons that make up the shoulder joint are encased in a capsule of connective tissue. When you have frozen shoulder syndrome, the capsule around the shoulder joint thickens and tightens, leading to inflammation and restricting movement in the process.
Depending upon which stage of frozen shoulder you are currently experiencing, and other factors which may affect your condition, the best exercises for you at any given time may change. That is why it is best to have a qualified practitioner examine and advise for you.
Before performing any exercises for your frozen shoulder, it is best to perform a brief warm up to get more blood flow to the tissues and reduce your risk of injury. If time permits, you may choose to apply moist heat to the shoulder by taking a hot shower or a placing a heated damp towel over the area for several minutes.
While we advise careful monitoring of exercises for our patients with frozen shoulder, you can find a nice link below by Harvard Health with some good, basic exercises that most people with frozen shoulder symptoms may benefit from.
Just like any other condition, certain people are at a higher risk of developing the condition compared to others. Aside from people with diabetes and stroke victims, other injuries and conditions that can put you at a higher risk for developing FSS include:
● Broken arm
● Rotator cuff injury
● Spine injury
● Poor posture leading to neuro-muscular tension
● Cardiovascular disease
● Parkinson’s disease
● Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
● Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
If your chiropractor suspects you are suffering from FSS, a thorough physical examination will be performed and studies may be recommended (MRI or X-rays) of the shoulder and/or surrounding structures. The cervical and thoracic regions of the spine will also be evaluated to determine if any biomechanical issues may be present. Patient’s with frozen shoulder syndrome may often present with other secondary complaints or problems such as neck and trapezius pain or tightness, postural abnormalities, headaches, or others.
Frozen shoulder treatment will typically include a range of complimentary treatments to reduce pains, and restore proper mobility. Both manual and instrument assisted soft tissue therapy will be performed to break down and reduce damaged scar tissues which have accumulated.
Treatment can also include targeted cold laser therapy which is excellent at reducing inflammation build up and speeding up recovery times. In the latter stages of FSS recovery, shockwave therapy may also be used as a fast and less painful way to break up scar tissue and improve mobility to old, damaged areas. Proper alignment and movement of nearby spinal regions will also be performed, as this will help to ensure proper nervous system control of the region and reduce postural strain on nearby muscles, tendons and ligaments.
The shoulder is a very complex joint and if you suspect you may have frozen shoulder syndrome, it is recommended that you seek a professional and thorough consultation right away with a well-trained doctor of chiropractic so that appropriate frozen shoulder treatment can be recommended and performed.
While some suffering from this condition may take several months to recover fully, it is reassuring to know you don’t have to go through it alone. Our professional and caring doctors of chiropractic at Elite Spine Centres are here to help ensure the best recovery possible for you. Furthermore, he can incorporate your FSS treatment into a larger wellness plan to not only prevent further complications which could develop, but also to improve your overall spine and body health.
Author: Dr. Michael Bryant