Frozen shoulder is also known as adhesive capsulitis. It’s an uncomfortable condition in your shoulder joint, including pain, stiffness, and restricted movement. A frozen shoulder happens gradually and progresses through three stages: freezing, frozen, and thawing.
How do you know your shoulder is frozen?
A frozen shoulder can occur without any specific injury or known cause. The condition starts with the “freezing stage,” increasing shoulder pain and stiffness. This stage can last from a few weeks to several months. The range of motion in your shoulder becomes limited, making it difficult to perform daily activities or even simple movements like reaching for objects.
After the “freezing stage," the shoulder enters the frozen stage. You may find you have less pain, but the stiffness remains. Your shoulder will be significantly restricted in movement. This stage can last from four to nine months.
Finally, the shoulder enters the “thawing stage.” Your range of motion should gradually improve, with the pain subsiding over time. This stage can last from several months to years.
Who’s at risk for a frozen shoulder?
While the exact cause of frozen shoulder is unknown, some risk factors may contribute to its development. These include diabetes, previous shoulder injury or surgery, thyroid disorders, and certain medical conditions such as Parkinson's and cardiovascular disease. It is more common in individuals aged 40 to 60 and affects women more frequently than men.
What can you do about a frozen shoulder?
Treatment for frozen shoulder typically involves pain management, physical therapy, and, in some cases, medication or surgical intervention. Pain relief measures may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroid injections, or other pain medications.
Frozen shoulder is a self-limiting condition, meaning it eventually resolves independently. However, the duration of each stage can vary. Fortunately, treatment can help manage symptoms and expedite the recovery process.
Avoid the more extreme resolutions to frozen shoulder through a plan of shoulder mobility and strength exercises, stretches, and manual therapy techniques.
Chiropractors specializing in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal conditions, including those affecting the shoulder, can assess your situation and develop a personalized treatment plan based on your needs.
Chiropractic care and frozen shoulder
Chiropractors use a hands-on approach to manipulate and adjust the joints and soft tissues to help alleviate pain, improve mobility, and restore function.
In the case of frozen shoulder, chiropractic care may focus on the following:
- Pain management: Chiropractors can use techniques such as joint mobilization and soft tissue therapy to help reduce pain associated with frozen shoulder.
- Restoring joint mobility: Chiropractic adjustments may be applied to the shoulder joint and surrounding structures to help improve joint mobility and restore normal movement. This can be particularly beneficial during the "thawing" stage of frozen shoulder when the shoulder begins to regain range of motion.
- Rehabilitation exercises: Chiropractors may prescribe specific exercises and stretches to help improve shoulder strength, flexibility, and range of motion. These exercises can be performed both in the chiropractic office and at home to complement the treatment.
If you're considering chiropractic care for frozen shoulder, consult a qualified chiropractor who can design an individualized plan based on your specific needs and condition.