Frozen Shoulder and Chiropractic
Updated: May 18
Frozen Shoulder is a frequent problem that I see in my chiropractic office. Often times, the problem began with an injury to the person’s rotator cuff and they stop moving it because it hurts. They didn’t get the treatment they needed or simply didn’t do their physical therapy exercises as they were recommended. Now their shoulder joint is frozen and can’t be moved through its range of motion. It is literally frozen in place.
Diagnosing this condition becomes quite obvious when a patient talks to me because as they show me their ranges of motion, they simply don’t have any movement. (or it is greatly reduced)
The following is a brief list of things you can do to help yourself.
First, if you have a rotator cuff injury and you see a chiropractor or physical therapist, follow their recommendations. Can physical therapy flare up your body for awhile? Of course it can. If you experience a flare up from doing your physical therapy exercises, the good news is that your therapist properly identified the muscles that are weakened or injured. If you flare up, communicate with your doctor or pt. They can’t adjust your exercises if you don’t help them understand your pain. They also won’t know if what they are giving you is working if you won’t do them and won’t try to work through your discomfort.
Secondly, in my chiropractic office, our treatment is literally breaking up the adhesions between the muscles with intense muscle work. Does it hurt? Yes. Does it feel better after we have had enough sessions to free up the joint and loosen up the muscles? Yes. You will have to deal with pain during the session and the bruising feeling afterwards to gain the benefits. It goes without saying, to live an active and healthy life, it is helpful to have two working arms. Any pain to restore the function of a shoulder is worth it. I also do shoulder adjustments on my patients with frozen shoulder to restore the normal motion of the head of the humerus (the long bone of the arm) in the socket of the shoulder.
Thirdly, shoulder problems almost always have spinal involvement. If a patient has shoulder problems there is almost always neck or upper back involvement. While a patient will benefit from shoulder treatment, to resolve the issue, they also need to have proper spinal biomechanics restored. When a patient has a rotator cuff injury or frozen shoulder, they tend to use their neck and back to fling their arm up to reach things. They rarely notice they do it but it becomes obvious when I make them stand still and not move their neck while they lift their arm. Chiropractic spinal adjustments to restore the proper motion of segments of the spine are critical to long term improvement of the shoulder problem.
My last comment: If you have a shoulder problem whether frozen shoulder or rotator cuff injury, heat is not the answer. While it can be quite de-motivating to put an ice pack on when it is chilly out, that is what takes out inflammation. Heat creates more. It will make your shoulder pain worse.