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Frozen shoulder | adhesive capsulitis | shoulder treatment

What is the main cause of frozen shoulder?

Written by Dr Celeste Codemo

Frozen shoulder | adhesive capsulitis | shoulder treatment

With this weather it can sure feel like it, but frozen shoulder refers to a condition called adhesive capsulitis in the shoulder. This joint is surrounded by a connective tissue capsule, which envelopes around the joint and provides a spot for ligaments and tendons to attach.

Frozen shoulder refers to when this joint capsule becomes stiff, inflamed and almost sticky with its movement (you could almost describe it as adhesive…)  

Who can get ?

Frozen sholder (or adhesive capsulitis) most commonly affects people between the ages of 40 and 60 and occurs in women more often than men. In addition, people with diabetes are at an increased risk for developing frozen shoulder. 

Can present like a tendonitis but is often diagnosed later when the tendonitis is not improving, an ult shows the adhesions 

Sometimes frozen shoulder can just happen. And other times we see that it can follow an injury or surgery. This can be the case when the arm is immobilised for an extended period of time. 

 What does a frozen shoulder feel like?  

  • 1st stage is pain (freezing)
  • 2nd stage is the restricted stage (frozen)
  • 3rd stage recovery (thawing)
  • Movement in the shoulder that is decreasing over time 
  • Sharp pain at end range movements in the shoulder 
  • Feeling of stiffness in the shoulder that is gradually worsening 

Frozen shoulder can often look remarkably like other shoulder and neck muscle conditions, in fact all those muscles do tense up when we have frozen shoulder making it often present with other aches and pains.  

 What can an Osteopath do for a frozen shoulder?  

Osteopaths use hands on techniques to mobilise the tissues through the shoulder, arm, neck, and rib-cage. A lot of these muscles spread over multiple joints, and when they are limited for movement around the shoulder, they end up stiff. By taking out the surrounding tension, we can work directly on the shoulder joint and encourage the movement within the capsule to increase range and lubrication in the joint.  

Frozen shoulder is often a waiting game, as it takes time for the shoulder to ‘thaw’ and the body’s natural healing process to work its magic. But doesn’t mean we can’t do anything. We can use this waiting time efficiently and prepare your arm and body to return to your usual activities with hands on and movement work.  

Offload and take pressure off that joint, give it room to move into.

Because we also know how the mechanics of the shoulder integrate with the rib-cage and spine, treatment and loosening here can allow more shoulder movement to become available. Let’s face it, if you are suffering from a frozen shoulder you’ll be noticing how other body parts seem to suffer along with it.

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