BAY Health & Wellbeing

with Rosie Jones  

ROSIE IS AN OSTEOPATH WITH SWANSEA BODY KINETICS AT THE NATURAL HEALTH SERVICE IN PAGE STREET, SWANSEA. THIS MONTH ROSIE LOOKS AT THE COMMON PROBLEM OF FROZEN SHOULDER

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FROZEN SHOULDER

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis or shoulder contracture is a condition that causes stiffness and pain in the shoulder. According to the NHS, 1 in 20 people may be affected by frozen shoulder, so it is not uncommon.

You are more likely to experience frozen shoulder if: you are female, you have suffered an injury to your shoulder in the past, are diabetic, and/or between the ages of 40 and 60 years old. However frozen shoulder is not fully understood and it is not known what is responsible for the shoulder reacting this way.

WHAT CAUSES THE SHOULDER TO “FREEZE”?

Frozen shoulder develops because the joint capsule which surrounds the ball and socket structure of the shoulder develops bands of scar tissue and then becomes inflamed. This scar tissue is stiffer than the usual structure of the joint capsule and does not allow the shoulder to move as it should. For example, when you bring your arm above your head, the joint capsule needs to stretch. In frozen shoulder it cannot do this so the capsule is put under stress and the movement is restricted. The reason behind this stiffening of the capsule is unknown. The capsule does not stay stiffened forever and frozen shoulder is known to have 3 phases: the painful phase, the freezing phase and the thawing phase.

The painful phase usually lasts between 2 and 9 months. It is as it says on the tin and you begin to experience pain and aching in the shoulder. The pain can be quite non-specific, is usually aggravated with movements and is worst at night, often disturbing your sleep.

The freezing phase involves a progressive stiffening of the shoulder, leading to less and less movement. Thankfully the pain usually remains at the same level during this phase, or may even become less debilitating. This phase can last between 4 to 12 months. The severity of this phase varies greatly amongst patients with some people finding that their shoulder loses almost all movement and others only finding a slight restriction. If this phase is severe you may find that some of the muscles usually used to control the shoulder become smaller and waste away due to a lack of use.

The final phase of frozen shoulder is the thawing phase. This involves a gradual recovery of the movement of the shoulder and reduction of pain. You may not regain full movement of the shoulder and there may be a reoccurrence of pain for some of this stage. It may last from 5 months to several years.

SO HOW CAN IT BE TREATED?

The earlier that frozen shoulder is diagnosed the quicker treatment can be given, and the better the results. This is because if you are treated early during the painful phase of frozen shoulder you are more likely to retain better movement and make a full recovery. Your doctor may initially give you painkillers to help you to continue with your daily life and may even offer a corticosteroid injection to help reduce inflammation in the joint.

In my clinic I work directly on the muscles, ligaments and joint capsule surrounding the shoulder in order to help retain movement and reduce pain, I often work on the neck and upper back too as these will often be compensating for the lack of movement available in the shoulder. I find that passive movement of the shoulder also helps to reduce pain as I can take the joint through its available movement range without stressing the muscles. I also work in conjunction with a yoga therapist in order to provide good movement exercises that you can do at home in order to strengthen the muscles surrounding the shoulder and keep as much movement as possible.

The important thing to remember if you are suffering with frozen shoulder is that it is self limiting; this means that the pain will eventually subside and you will regain some or all of your movement. If you are concerned that you are suffering with frozen shoulder I would recommend seeking help as soon as possible in order to give yourself the best chance of recovery.

For further information or to book an appointment call Rosie on 07540 453280 or visit www.swanseabodykinetics.co.uk

Natural Health Service, 2 Page Street, Swansea SA1 4EZ  www.thenaturalhealthservice.co.uk Tel: 01792 651717

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