How Chiropractic Care Can Treat Adhesive Capsulitis or Frozen Shoulder Syndrome

“It’s so annoying when you’re in a rush to attend a business meeting at 9:00 am and you’re having a hard time washing and dressing yourself cause your shoulder hurts so much which–you’ve been suffering for two months now, by the way. Just merely raising your arm over your shoulder ruins your entire day.” Jessica, 45, Marketing Assistant

Adhesive Capsulitis (AC) or Frozen Shoulder Syndrome (FSS) is the term for a painful and stiff shoulder. It occurs when the tissues around the shoulder joint capsule thicken and tighten, limiting the range of motion of the shoulder joint. It just gets stuck and glued in, so, there really are specific movements you can’t do such as lifting your shoulder up, bringing it round in front of you, or bringing it behind you. And similarly with Jessica’s case, lifting the shoulder up with AC is greatly painful.

How Does a Frozen Shoulder Happen?

It normally happens after trauma, such as injury, surgery, or illness where there is scar tissue that builds up in the shoulder joint capsule because the shoulder has been immobilized for a long time. It affects females slightly more than males and is usually seen in ages 40–70. Patients with diagnosed type 1 or type 2 diabetes are also at risk of developing adhesive capsulitis.

The pain usually starts on the outside of the shoulder and moves progressively deeper into the shoulder joint. Scar tissue gets built up around and inside the joint and that reduces the actual physical movement of the shoulder, this is where the shoulder reaches its frozen stage.

Ever had this difficulty in moving your arm through its full range of motion?

Defrosting FSS

There is no definite concurrence for the best treatment approach to FSS but there is compelling evidence from patients on various case studies who underwent hours of manual chiropractic adjustments that proved manipulation at the thoracic spine has remarkably increased patient’s ROM.

The idiopathic adhesive capsulitis symptoms have been divided into three phases clinically: the painful phase which could last 10-36 weeks, the annoying frozen phase lasting 4-12 months, and the defrosting phase. The defrosting phase is when the shoulder starts to get mobile again and the pain goes away naturally, it would take time, of course, which could last 18-24 months or even more. The problem is for 18 months, your shoulder’s ROM is only limited to a certain degree, not to mention the constant pain you’ll feel.

To defrost FSS, a chiropractor has to do a series of physical manipulations to directly affect the AC. Initial treatment consisted of interferential current therapy, anteroposterior and long axis distraction mobilization, pendular home exercises for the affected shoulder, soft tissue therapy, and the spinal manipulation therapy of the cervical and the thoracic spine three times per week for two weeks.

Yes, this pain won’t go away permanently in just one visit, the normal turnaround time of a patient undergoing chiropractic care for AC should take at least six visits to your chiropractor.

During your sixth visit, a remarkable improvement in your ROM will be observed. Strengthening exercises using rubber tubing including external rotation, forward flexion and abduction will be introduced. But of course, just so we’ll rule out all possible causes of your pain, a radiographic examination of the shoulder is required to exclude other conditions.

Adhesive Capsulitis (AC) or Frozen Shoulder Syndrome is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning despite investigations by physicians, no explanation has been found. However, it can be identified by the restriction of shoulder movement, forward bending, localized physical discomfort, and severely decreased range of motion on the affected shoulder.

You might want to schedule a visit to your chiropractor today, self-help is fine but the condition tends to get worse with time if it’s not treated right away.