Putting the Heat on Frozen Shoulder with Physical Therapy
Frozen shoulder, if left untreated, can be a very serious condition. The standard treatments for frozen shoulder can often leave a lot to be desired. While many doctors and even physical therapists may suggest injections or ultrasound, the truth is that hands on physical therapy is the best route for treating frozen shoulder once and for all.
Frozen shoulder is a condition that effects virtually all shoulder movement, especially over the head movement. The shoulder can become stiff and scarred which limits movement and increases pain. It often happens without any associated injury or clear cause. There can be a traumatic injury in some cases, but normally this isn’t the case. Certain risk factors can lead to frozen shoulder, however.
It happens more often to women than men, and can severely limit a person’s quality of life. Frozen shoulder normally occurs between the ages of 40 and 60 years old. People with diabetes can be at higher risk, as can those who have thyroid problems. Other shoulder trauma or injury can make frozen shoulder more likely in the future.
Symptoms can include:
- A dull, aching and persistent pain.
- Limited movement.
- Difficulty with activities like putting on shirts and brushing hair.
- Inability to sleep due to shoulder pain.
Daily activities can be hard to manage with a frozen shoulder, and many activities can be completely reduced. Although frozen shoulder will naturally resolve itself in time, it can be nearly three years in some cases. That’s three years of pain, limited mobility and aching muscles!
If you’re experiencing tightness in the shoulder area and suspect you have frozen shoulder, your first stop will probably be your doctor’s office. A doctor can help you determine whether or not you actually have frozen shoulder. Some may recommend anti-inflammatory drugs or injections to help with the pain.
While these remedies can help reduce pain, they can be toxic when used long term. Other common remedies are hot packs and ultrasound therapy. These can increase pain relief but don’t help with recovery time.
The most effective method for treating frozen shoulder is physical therapy. I use a process to guide your muscles through a series of movements. The movements are designed to help build strength in your four rotator cuff muscles. Strong rotator cuff muscles will help your shoulder recover faster. The treatment will also helo loosen the adhesions of the cuff capsule, which causes the disorder.
A strong rotator cuff is going to be more eager to heal – which leads to faster recovery time for you. If you rely only on anti inflammatories and ultrasound, your muscles aren’t going to build strength and recovery may take a lot longer.
At Fortius Physical Therapy, we’ll move you through rotational exercises for your rotator cuff. We’ll also stretch out your muscles progressively in order to speed up your recovery time. Our frozen shoulder treatments will have you feeling better after just a few sessions.