“Will I ever be able to reach that shelf in the kitchen?”
When you have a frozen shoulder, even simple everyday tasks like putting away your groceries are daunting, painful, or simply impossible.
Frozen shoulder can be extremely painful in its early stage; it becomes even more debilitating when the lack of range of motion sets in later on. Recovery from this condition can take months – sometimes years – for full recovery.
Although frozen shoulder is a very common condition, there are some things that are mysterious about it. Typically frozen shoulder tends to affect one side, usually the non-dominant side, but some develop the condition in both shoulders. In rare cases, patients develop frozen shoulder on the other side within five years.
It’s important to seek treatment early for frozen shoulder to avoid permanent damage to the joint. During the many months of decreased shoulder mobility the rotator cuff muscles weaken and the joint capsule tissue surrounding these muscles stiffens. This can place the shoulder at significant risk for cuff tears, arthritis, and possible osteopenia or thinning of the bones.
Without treatment, the shoulder joint can actually deteriorate to a point where full recovery becomes very difficult – if not impossible.
The risk of permanent damage however can be reduced with early physical therapy, with a focus on shoulder mobility under the guidance of a skilled health care professional. The therapist might recommend strengthening the rotator cuff muscles. A strong rotator cuff can help support your shoulder and allow it to move more freely. They might also give you exercises to work on your scapula. (One way to diagnose frozen shoulder is by observing if the scapula or shoulder blade moves excessively when you reach to the side or above you head.)
It’s important to keep mobilizing your shoulder – but don’t overdo it by making up strenuous exercises at the gym.
A Naturopathic Doctor might suggest prolotherapy – both non-surgical injection treatments that can greatly reduce pain and speed the healing process. In a prolotherapy treatment, dextrose is injected into the affected area to bring immune factors to the area and effectively stimulate the body’s own healing capacities.
Take it slow. Remember that your frozen shoulder didn’t develop overnight – it will take some time and patience to repair it with a little help from a skilled health care professional. Dr. Michael Mason-Wood, ND and the team at Natural Terrain Naturopathic Clinic are trained in alleviating joint pain. Click here to find out more about prolotherapy.