What Is Frozen Shoulder?

A surprisingly large portion of the population has some degree of ‘frozen shoulder,’ which is a painful condition where the range of motion in the shoulder becomes severely limited. Most people with frozen shoulder cannot raise their arm in front of them or out to the side to parallel without significant pain, if they are able to get it there at all. Limitations in the ability to rotate the arm in or out are also very common. Frozen shoulder happens either because of an injury or shock to the shoulder socket (like a fall onto an extended arm, or an impact directly to the shoulder from a car accident), which we call acute frozen shoulder, or because of a long period of time where the shoulder is not structurally stable, which we call chronic frozen shoulder. In either situation the brain wants to protect the shoulder, which is such a dynamic joint with such a normally large range of motion that it can become injured relatively easily, so it will basically clamp down the joint and compress it to limit range of motion.

frozen shoulder inflammation The notion is that by limiting it’s range of motion, any tissues in the joint capsule that were injured in an acute frozen shoulder can have a better chance to heal without being injured further. Or in the case of chronic frozen shoulder the brain is just too worried about the chances of injury so caries out the same protective strategy. The result of either is similar to flexing a few particular muscles as hard as you can nonstop; it gets pretty painful and severely limits your mobility. The main problem is that long after any injury that may have existed heals, the frozen shoulder continues. Most acute frozen shoulders last 1-2 years! Chronic frozen shoulders can persist indefinitely because the state of instability in the shoulder persists as well.

What Can We Do About It?

The treatment for either acute or frozen shoulder is fairly similar, though in my experience acute frozen shoulder is at times a quicker process to fix. We start by relaxing the group of muscles that have been over active in order to compress the joint and hold it in place, and those that have been working in place of the muscles that should normally be working to stabilize the shoulder. We then decompress the shoulder and work to break up any adhesions that have formed in the capsule (the tissues can actually get a bit stuck after being compressed so severely for so long!). For many acute frozen shoulders this is the most we can get done in one session as the stiff and angry tissue needs more time to loosen.

The next step is creating stability around the shoulder (And global stability in the neck, hand, and core. If the body isn’t generally stable, it won’t want to let that shoulder loosen up!) by getting the proper stability muscles back online. Once these all get back in operation the shoulder simply doesn’t need to stay frozen as it’s stable enough to safely move. I have seen people regain 60-90% of pain free passive range of motion (me moving their arm) in their first session, and on some occasions even active range of motion (the patient moving their arm) is returned in the first session. Every case is different, however, and sometimes the instability of the shoulder is a more complicated issue and home exercises are vital for making the changes permanent.

Nonetheless Neurokinetic Therapy® is the most effective, quickest acting, and cost effective method I have ever found for resolving frozen shoulder. Do you have shoulder pain or mobility challenges? Get assessed, and resolve the issue permanently!