Chiropractic: Putting the Freeze on Frozen Shoulder

By Dr. Molly Casey

Shoulder Pain and Chiropractic

Shoulder issues can be irritating at best and debilitating at worst. Most people don’t give it much thought -- until they hurt their shoulder. A common issue called “frozen shoulder” is just one of those cases that can really impede the ease of daily life activities. What can you do if you find yourself in this situation -- and can chiropractic help?

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder’s medical name is adhesive capsulitis. It’s characterized by shoulder pain, stiffness and, as it worsens over time, a decrease in joint range of motion. At best, you simply notice it and grind through the pain; at worst, patients can’t move their arm. So it’s wise to address shoulder issues regardless of how minimal they seem.

Often there is no preceding traumatic event and the symptoms appear seemingly out of nowhere. There are often three stages to this condition.

  • Freezing stage - Movement of the shoulders are painful and irritating; range of motion becomes limited
  • Frozen stage - Pain either decreases or may be fully gone; range of motion becomes worse and worse, potentially to nearly none
  • Thawing stage - Range of motion improves

The exact course of progression is unique to the individual. It can also resolve on its own, though it frequently takes between one and three years. Because the range of motion can become so limited, daily activities of living -- such as putting on shirts or reaching for something out of the cupboard -- can be nearly impossible. At this point, treatment becomes an absolute necessity.

Can Chiropractic Help

When you can’t move your arms because of the pain associated with frozen shoulder, chiropractic has definitely been known to help. Although the care of each individual is tailored to the patient, there are some general guidelines.

First, chiropractic addresses the cervical and upper thoracic spine range of motion. The way in which one’s neck and upper back move directly affects the ability of the shoulder to properly function. In addition, the portion of the nervous system that communicates with the shoulder exits the lower part of the cervical spine. Increasing the spinal joint motion and improving the nervous system communication level can be enough to see the first steps in the healing process.

Second, the actual shoulder joint itself can be manipulated. There are different joints that can be restricted in range of motion that will affect the health of the shoulder. These include the gleno-humeral joint and the acromion-clavicular joint (shoulder and collar bone, respectively). The manipulation of the joint is intended to restore proper joint motion, position and ultimately function.

Third, there are simple exercises of range of motion that can be done at home with very little equipment to gently increase the shoulder range of motion. These include a wall crawl or flexion/extension full range of motion with a broomstick. There are stretches for surrounding musculature that your chiropractor can recommend in order to improve flexibility.

Lastly, there are supplement recommendations your chiropractor can make that will offer nutrient support for the health of the joints. One phenomenal joint supplement is called collagen protein. This comes from the bone marrow of chicken, beef and/or lamb and is extraordinary for joint health and support. It has enjoyed increased popularity, so even though you may have to look for it, you shouldn’t have to look too hard.

Frozen shoulder can really put your body on ice. It can be debilitating, but you don’t have to live with it. Chiropractic can help you recover from it much quicker and likely with less interference and pain involved. If you or someone you love is suffering from frozen shoulder, letting the doctors at The Joint Chiropractic help you is an idea you should definitely warm up to.

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