Frozen Shoulder or Adhesive Capsulitis is the effect of inflammation, thickening, scarring, and shrinkage of the capsule that surrounds the normal shoulder joint.
Common causes of frozen shoulder are diabetes, heart disease, connective tissue disorders, and also no reason at all as it can happen at any time. It affects more women than men, middle-aged adults between 40-60 years with 2-5% of the population.
Symptoms of frozen shoulder are:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Inability to lay on the affected arm
- Loss of range of motion
Symptoms regularly interfere with tasks used every day such as driving your car, dressing yourself or sleeping. Even things such as reaching behind your seat while sitting in the car or changing gears may become intolerable. Work may even be affected in some cases.
There are 3 phases to frozen shoulder:
Phase 1- “Freezing” Painful Phase- This is the most painful and can last anywhere between 2-9 months. The first symptom is pain, stiffness, and limitation of movement. At night is when the pain is usually worse or by laying on the affected shoulder. Sudden movement can cause a sharp pain or even brushing your hair as it is an external rotation.
Phase 2- “Frozen” Stiff Phase- This phase is less painful but where the stiffness really takes effect. It can last anywhere between 4-12 months. Rotation of the arm outwards is the movement that is most affected. Although all movements of the shoulder are affected. You may lose muscles are the shoulder as they are not being used.
Phase 3- “Thawing” Recovery Phase- This phase lasts anywhere between 5-24 months. The stiffness slowly goes and movement progressively returns to normal.
Early diagnosis is important so that manual therapy can get started during phase 1. If left untreated, frozen shoulder can last up to 3 years or longer. Treatment is different in every individual.
The Osteopath will manipulate the pressure points surrounding the shoulder. Pressure applied is variable depending on the individual and the severity of the condition. Soft tissue massage, gentle articulation and stretching release the shoulder with treatment to the neck, upper back and shoulder girdle. Osteopathic treatment will also likely extend to other areas of the body, such as the neck, back and arms, as the underlying cause of shoulder pain may well extend outside of the localized area of pain. Your Osteopath will also analyze your posture and provide lifestyle advice to lessen the risk of reoccurrence in the future. They will also show you gentle exercises to work on at home. Ongoing lifestyle management for frozen shoulder is particularly prevalent for those suffering from diabetes. It is important to maintain as much movement in the shoulder as possible.