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Freezing, Frozen, Thawed: Frozen Shoulder

Frozen Shoulder, aka adhesive capsulitis or traumatic arthritis, is a pain and difficulty moving the shoulder. The most common cause is shoulder immobilization from an injury or surgery. It usually has 3 phases. It starts with a freezing of the shoulder where the pain and movement get worse and worse. Usually this phase is around 3-4 months. The second phase also lasts 3-4 months and the pain stays the same where the shoulder is completely frozen. With the third and final stage, called thawing, the condition slowly improves over another period which can vary from 6 months to 2 years. It is important in the final stage to be careful not to reinjure it because it is not fully healed yet. Most common symptoms are pain when lying on the injured side, sensitive coracoid process, radiating pain down the arm, pain worsens with use of arm, and the motion is extremely limited. The pain will be worst during passive lateral rotation. There is also pain with passive scapula-humeral abduction and light pain with medial rotation. Spasms may stop these motions and cause resistance. The most common treatment for Frozen Shoulder are steroid injections. Following these injections it is important to stretch the shoulder joint.

Massage may be able to reduce neurological inhibition. Through light passive movements and massage the nervous system can be reassured that it is ok to move the shoulder again. If there's any increase in motion following a massage its a good sign that the shoulder is functionally frozen and not literally frozen. Therefore, continued gentle massage and light passive movements may help improve the condition. Due to the low key nature of the massage it may take 2-3 sessions per week until full range of motion is reached. If a client is receiving injections as treatment it is a good idea to receive massage 3-4 hours after the injection. For those who massage and injections don't help may be referred by a doctor for Arthroscopic Capsular Release.

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