Frozen Shoulders: Causes and Treatments

Your shoulders help you lift things, wave, and perform a myriad of other activities. Sometimes, you may discover pain and stiffness in a shoulder joint, which can result in a reduction in mobility. This pain may begin slowly and then worsen before getting better. Doctors often refer to this condition as “frozen shoulder.”

What Is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder occurs when the tissue around your shoulder joint swells up. The swelling causes your body to form scar tissue around your shoulder. It reduces the natural lubrication of the joint, making it difficult to move your shoulder. Frozen shoulder usually occurs in one shoulder at a time and is accompanied by a dull ache that can extend to your upper shoulders or arms. Many patients report the pain worsens at night.

Who Does Frozen Shoulder Affect?

Women between the ages of 40 and 60 are most likely to suffer from a frozen shoulder. A condition that prevents you from using your shoulder daily, such as recovering from a mastectomy, may also put you at risk of developing a frozen shoulder. Studies have also shown a correlation between frozen shoulder and medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, thyroid disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

A typical case of frozen shoulder occurs in three phases:
Freezing Stage: Shoulder pain gradually develops (potentially getting worse at night) and limits your range of motion. This stage can last up to nine months.

Frozen Stage: Your shoulder’s stiffness may worsen, limiting your range of motion even further. This stage can affect you for as little as four months to up to a year.

Thawing Stage: You gradually regain your range of motion, a process that can affect you for as little as six months or take up to two years.

Frozen Shoulder Treatments

Luckily, modern medicine has developed some excellent frozen shoulder treatment options to help relieve the pain associated with this condition. Chiropractors aim to reduce the overall pain caused by frozen shoulder by targeting the inflammation affecting your tendons. Some of the most common frozen shoulder remedies include ice therapy, acupuncture, electrical therapy, and ultrasound. Anti-inflammatory medicines can also help reduce any inflammation you may have.

When you are in the frozen stage of frozen shoulder, a chiropractor may also utilize massage therapy techniques or the Graston Technique to break up the scar tissue surrounding your shoulder joint. These methods can help alleviate stiffness and ultimately restore your range of motion.

During the thawing stage of frozen shoulder, it is essential to ensure you continuously use your muscles to keep them active and strong. It may be helpful to implement a stretching routine, and optionally a physical therapy routine, to keep your muscles active while you have a frozen shoulder.

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