Recover From a Frozen Shoulder: Seeking Treatment and Trying Physical Therapy
If you or someone you loved has ever experienced a frozen shoulder– you know exactly how serious it is.
Frozen shoulder, often referred to as adhesive capsulitis, occurs when the connective tissue in your shoulder joint thickens and becomes tight. This condition is often characterized by both stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint.
Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis is more than just a minor discomfort – it can have a serious impact on your quality of life. The affected arm can have an extremely limited range of motion.
This can limit you from seemingly easy tasks such as driving, getting dressed, cooking, showering, and more.
Fortunately, there are treatment options for those that are experiencing a frozen shoulder.
In this article, we’ll be talking about how you can seek treatment to increase your range of motion and get back to living your life to the fullest.
Ready to learn more?
Diagnosing Frozen Shoulder
As stated above, a frozen shoulder is characterized by both pain and stiffness in one or both of your shoulders.
This pain may get worse and then better but is often replaced by stiffness and a more limited range of motion in the shoulder. Eventually, a frozen shoulder will “thaw” and your range of mobility may return.
However, the entire cycle of a frozen shoulder can last between 1-3 years so it is best to seek professional attention to both diagnose and treat a frozen shoulder.
While the exact cause of a frozen shoulder is still speculated about, there are a few groups that are at a higher risk than others.
Women are more likely to experience this condition than men, and people in the age group 40-60 are most at risk.
It has also been associated with diabetes, thyroid disorders, cervical disc disease, immobilisation, trauma, intrathoracic disorder and intracranial pathology. If you have had a trauma to the shoulder or surrounding tissues and structures, have long term postural issues or perform repetitive movements with your arms or upper spine, this could increase your likelihood of developing frozen shoulder.
Aches, pain and stiffness of one area of the body may in some cases actually develop due to abnormal function or alignment in other regions of the body. Vertebral joint problem can cause spasm of the shoulder connective tissue, disturbing the coordination of arm-shoulder blade-upper spine movement. To properly diagnose frozen shoulder, be sure to seek a doctor, physical therapist, or a Doctor of Chiropractic who will be able to do thorough history and physical examination. If deemed necessary X-Rays, Ultrasound or MRI may be ordered to assess the severity of the frozen shoulder.
Treating Frozen Shoulder
After diagnosis, there are several treatment options that you can explore.
Some non-invasive treatment methods may even be done in conjunction to activate your body’s natural healing response and get you back to your normal life as quickly as possible.
Are you interested in a cutting-edge treatment plan that is both non-invasive and effective? Then be sure to ask about shockwave therapy.
Since frozen shoulder often occurs because of connective tissue that is hardened, shockwave therapy is a great tool that can break up the tissue. By breaking down fibrous tissue adhesions, it can restore mobility to the targeted area, in this case- the affected arm. Shockwave Therapy is usually utilised in the later stages of frozen shoulder to speed up recovery.
It is renowned for several reasons:
- Pain management capabilities
- Tissue rehabilitation
- Neovascularisation (growth of new blood vessels)
- Reversal of chronic inflammation
- Breakdown of fibrous tissue adhesions and calcium build-up (bone spurs)
Low-Level Laser Therapy
Another non-invasive treatment option to try is low-level laser therapy, also referred to as cold laser therapy.
Low-level laser therapy uses wavelengths of light to interact with the damaged tissue and promote the body’s natural healing response.
Cold laser therapy has been shown to reduce swelling and inflammation, decrease pain, improve cellular metabolism and increase overall functionality. Treatment with low-level laser therapy can be in conjunction with other manual therapies and technologies to increase the speed of recover!
Adjustments from a Chiropractor
Chiropractors specialize in understanding the musculoskeletal system!
With their expertise, they are able to specifically target the pain in your affected arm and get you back on the path of healing.
Chiropractors will utilize adjustments to restore the body’s alignment and support the nervous system.
Here at Elite Spine Centres, our chiropractors take treatment a step further by practicing targeted myofascial therapy. This is also known as “muscle release” or “myofascial trigger point therapy.”
For frozen shoulder, targeted myofascial therapy can help to prepare the body for more aggressive types of strengthening and pain relief. Muscle release is when pressure is applied to one area. This method releases any restriction in the connective tissue which will allow for healing in your shoulder.
This comprehensive approach will help your whole body re-achieve balance, alignment, range of motion, and a greater quality of life.
Another method of treatment you can try for frozen shoulder is physical therapy and rehabilitative exercise.
These methods are excellent options to try in conjunction with the previously mentioned treatment options for frozen shoulder.
Our doctors may recommend a specific frozen shoulder exercise (or multiple!) to help you strengthen the affected arm and increase your shoulder mobility.
Oftentimes, you are able to learn these different exercises and then continue engaging with them at home. This will decrease the number of appointments you need to make with your doctor over time so that you can manage your strength training and exercise program from the comfort of your home.
Continuing to engage in rehabilitative exercise is not only a great way to heal from a frozen shoulder, but is also an effective option to prevent this injury from happening again in the future.
Healing Frozen Shoulder: Live a Life Free of Pain
Now you know the different causes of frozen shoulder, how to get diagnosed, and several different treatment options.
Treating frozen shoulder in conjunction with physical therapy, shoulder exercises, and other strengthening exercises is a great way to improve your overall quality of life, speed up your recovery and prevent/ reduce any further issues from happening.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle where you engage in an exercise program, eat nutritious foods, and seek treatment immediately for any pain you are experiencing will help you to live your life to the fullest.
If you’d like to know how we can treat your shoulder, feel free to reach out to us
Dr. Michael Bryant, doctor of chiropractic and member of the Alliance of Chiropractic (AOC) Singapore, graduated summa cum laude from Life University in Atlanta and received several distinctions, as well as completing additional coursework and NBCE certification in physiotherapy. Michael Bryant is the founder of Elite Spine Centers. Read more about Dr. Mike here.