Feb 10

Your Freezing, Frozen Shoulder.

As far as the shouldershoulder2 joint goes it’s pretty remarkable in its ability to allow for such a great amount of movement and mobility, in which enables us to function in our daily lives with much more ease then not, as well as enjoy endless things this world offers. Held together by ligaments, and stabilized by musculature and tendons which run anteriorly from the shoulder blade (scapula) to allow for the upper arm bone  (humerus) to be supported and stabilized, creating the ball and socket joint in which we call the shoulder.

Frozen shoulder, which isn’t something that just can come on during the winter, is an idiopathic condition that can be extremely painful and debilitating if not addressed in the early stages. Also known as adhesive capsulitis, the joint capsule of the shoulder becomes tightened and inflexible as adhesions develop restricting the full motion of the shoulder. The adhesions cause a thickening in the synovial membrane which is the tissue within the cavity of the joint that helps with the fluidity of its motion. As it thickens it becomes inelastic and tears easily resulting in further inflammation.

The cause of this condition is unknown and can come on by no trauma at all, but also can be secondary to other pathologies in the shoulder such as bicep tendon pathology, a rotator cuff tear or subacromial bursitis. All which stem from overuse of this joint. As well, postural dysfunction such as hyperkyphosis (anteriorly concave curvature of the thoracic supine) can cause the shoulder to be in misalignment leading to consequent stress on the joint capsule causing an increase of capsular fibrosis and adhesions leading your shoulder to be restricted, and in response have inflammation and much pain.

In the early stages, also known as the freezing phase, it is normal to experience severe pain at night and the inability to sleep on the affected side with pain on the outer aspect of the shoulder referring to the elbow. Stiffness begins to set in after two or three weeks and can last up to two to nine months.

shoulder3When the frozen phase begins, pain starts to diminish and stiffness becomes the primary complaint leaving the patient unable to move much of the arm away from the midline of the body or rotating the arm inward toward the body and also away from it. This could last up to four to twelve months.

When the thawing phase sets in and things begin to resolve, pain will be localized to the lateral arm and night pain will be no longer existent. Motion and function gradually regain and the shoulder begins to feel less restricted but it’s also possible for full range of motion to not be fully regained.

Treatment will be required to help the process of this condition along and Massage Therapy contributes great benefits. As the joint begins to restrict in range and develop with pain, your massage therapist is able to utilize Swedish massage techniques to aid in the muscle guarding of the rotator cuff muscles which happens in regards to the inflammation response in the joint as the adhesions develop. As well, joint mobilizations can be used to break down adhesions in the joint and cause for an increase of range. Cross fiber frictions will also be necessary to eliminate adhesion in the tendons that surround that shoulder girdle.

Client education and proper homecare will be provided in helping you maintain progress and continue with recovery. Regular appointments with your massage therapist can aid in reducing your chances of predisposing factors that contribute to frozen shoulder as we are constantly in the process of overusing our shoulders and gaining muscle imbalances in our posture by repetitive poor posture causing unwanted stress on vital joints.

For further information or to book your appointment and get yourself on the path of healing today call or come in to Balance Physiotherapy. We look forward to helping you with your health care goals!

– Nina Cox, RMT

At Balance Physiotherapy, we offer gift certificates for both physiotherapy and massage therapy. A gift certificate would make a great Valentine’s day gift for a loved one or a friend!

For more information about our services, see our website at: www.findyourbalance.ca