rectangle logo

Frozen Shoulder

Troubled by frozen shoulder? This painful condition limits your mobility. Let Spine & Sport Center Brooklyn help with rehabilitation. Say goodbye to pain & stiffness.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that presents with pain, stiffness, and a limited range of motion in the shoulder. The primary approach to treating frozen shoulder is through rehabilitation.

The condition typically goes through three stages – freezing, frozen, and thawing. During the freezing stage, pain and stiffness increase while the range of motion decreases. The frozen stage is characterized by a plateau in symptoms and minimal improvement. Finally, the symptoms start to improve during the thawing stage.

On this page, we will cover the causes and symptoms of frozen shoulder, then dive into the scientific evidence that discusses the role of chiropractic care in managing this condition.

The causes of frozen shoulder

The causes of frozen shoulder are diverse and include:

  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Diabetes
  • Weakened immune system

These conditions increase the risk of inflammation in the shoulder joint, which can lead to the deposit of collagen and fibrin. Over time, this process results in the loss of articular range of motion.

Other causes include systemic diseases, direct injuries to the shoulder, and inactivity due to illness or surgery. If you have one or more of these conditions, you are at a higher risk of developing adhesions in the shoulder joint. Consequently, your movement will get severely constricted. Unfortunately, when scar tissues form within your joint, your range of motion will get restricted.

According to studies, frozen shoulder typically develops over a period of 4-9 months.

The signs and symptoms of frozen shoulder

People generally become aware of frozen shoulder when they start experiencing pain. As the condition progresses, the pain limits the movements of the shoulders, causing a restricted range of motion. This makes it difficult for patients to move their shoulders. For instance, reaching for items on high shelves becomes extremely challenging.

Healthcare professionals determine the severity of your condition by evaluating how it’s affecting your day-to-day activities and quality of life.

The signs and symptoms of frozen shoulder develop gradually and include:

  • Pain in the shoulder that may be dull or aching. Usually, the pain becomes worse at night
  • Stiffness in the shoulder that makes it difficult to move or lift your arm
  • Limited range of motion in the shoulder, making it hard to reach overhead, behind the back, or across the chest
  • Weakness in the shoulder and arm
  • A crackling or grating sensation when moving the shoulder

In some cases, the pain may radiate down the arm or into the elbow and hand.

What are the complications of frozen shoulder?

While the condition usually resolves without complications, untreated frozen shoulder can lead to some debilitating consequences.

Some of the potential complications of frozen shoulder include:

Chronic pain – If the pain and stiffness associated with frozen shoulder are not effectively managed, it can lead to ongoing pain and discomfort that can impact daily activities and quality of life.

Limited range of motion – Frozen shoulder can cause the shoulder joint to become stiff and restrict the range of motion. This can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks such as dressing, reaching, and lifting objects.

Weakness – The stiffness and pain associated with frozen shoulder will partially immobilize the shoulder articulation, leading to muscle weakness and a lack of muscle tone.

Recurrence – Some people may experience a recurrence of frozen shoulder after it has resolved. These cases require frequent chiropractic care sessions to prevent chronic disease.

Surgical intervention – In some cases, surgery may be needed to release the scar tissue and adhesions that are causing the stiffness and pain associated with frozen shoulder.

These complications are relatively uncommon. However, they can be severe and irreversible when neglected. For this reason, we recommend that you reach out to a chiropractor as soon as possible to improve your clinical outcome.

How chiropractic care helps with frozen shoulder

Chiropractors use a variety of techniques, such as manual adjustments, mobilization, and soft tissue therapy, rehab exercises, and shockwave therapy to help improve the range of motion and reduce pain in the shoulder joint.

According to a systematic review of randomized controlled trials, chiropractic care is effective in improving the range of motion and reducing pain in individuals with frozen shoulder. The study found that manual therapy and exercise were more effective than other forms of treatment, such as ultrasound or electrotherapy.

Another systematic review published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy found that manual therapy (e.g., mobilization and manipulation) was effective in improving the range of motion and reducing pain in people with frozen shoulder.

When it comes to the rate of improvement, researchers investigated this topic by recruiting 50 participants with frozen shoulder. These participants were then divided into two groups:

  • The first group received chiropractic care
  • The second group received physical therapy

Assessing the symptoms of all participants revealed that the first group experienced better clinical improvement compared to the second one. More specifically, chiropractic care showed an average improvement of 40% in the range of motion, 34% in pain, and 57% in physical function.

To back up the results of the previous research, a another study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine reported that patients with frozen shoulder who received chiropractic care had significant improvement in pain, range of motion, and day-to-day function. This study included a total of 20 patients with frozen shoulder who received chiropractic care. The authors found that patients had an average improvement of 57% in the range of motion, 71% in pain, and 80% in day-to-day function.

Takeaway message

Frozen shoulder is a common condition that could be debilitating for some patients. Medications are often not effective in restoring functionality. For this reason, people are opting for chiropractic care to naturally rehabilitate their shoulder and restore their range of motion.

We hope that this article managed to explain the role of chiropractic care in the management of frozen shoulder.

If you have any specific questions about frozen shoulder or how we can help you, please do not hesitate to reach out to us via the contact us page!