Our shoulders are essential to how we sit, stand, walk, and move each day. Because of this, even the slightest amount of discomfort in the shoulders can begin to seriously affect a person’s quality of life. While there are many causes of shoulder discomfort, one of the most common is frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis. Joint pain and stiffness are common symptoms of this particular problem.
Below, we discuss this condition more in-depth and examine how receiving chiropractic care for frozen shoulder can help alleviate symptoms and restore normal movement.
What is Frozen Shoulder?
Adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder, is a condition where the shoulder joint is stiff, painful, and causes restriction within a normal range of motion. The exact cause of frozen shoulder is unknown, but many people are diagnosed with this condition after being immobilized for a long period due to illness or surgery. Trauma to the area, overuse, diabetes, hormonal changes, and misalignment of the thoracic (mid-back) spine are all risk factors for developing frozen shoulder.
While the most common symptoms of frozen shoulder are pain and restricted movement, these symptoms tend to show up gradually and can even take years to fully progress into frozen shoulder. As the frozen shoulder gets progressively worse, this can put you at greater risk for injury, and some people experience such severity that it prevents shoulder movements altogether.
The three stages of frozen shoulder are:
- Stage 1: Freezing, or painful, stage: This phase is when the pain is at its peak and range of motion is limited.
- Stage 2: Frozen, or transitional, stage: During this phase, use of the arm is extremely limited. Shoulder flexion, as well as both internal and external rotation, are restricted and painful.
- Stage 3: Thawing stage: This phase begins when the range of motion improves and the patient starts to feel relief.
What Should You Expect From Chiropractic Treatment?
In most cases, frozen shoulder symptoms stem from a thoracic (mid-back) misalignment that alters how the shoulder sits and moves, and as it worsens, so does the shoulder’s mobility. General chiropractic care for frozen shoulder focuses on stretches, exercises, and spinal adjustments geared towards increasing shoulder mobility. At PostureWorks, we use Chiropractic BioPhysics® techniques that focus more on fixing any thoracic spinal misalignments to get to the root of the problem. Along with using spinal manipulation and traction to restructure the spine, we also implement customized exercises and stretches to regain shoulder function. This allows the shoulder to return to its normal position—only then will the symptoms truly be resolved.
Why Seek Chiropractic Care for Frozen Shoulder?
Chiropractors can help alleviate frozen shoulder pain and restore range of motion, but how? Below, we examine how chiropractic care for frozen shoulder works.
Both general and CBP chiropractors use gentle techniques to reduce the pain and discomfort caused by frozen shoulder. Spinal traction, used by CBP, addresses the spinal misalignment causing or worsening frozen shoulder symptoms to restore healthy shoulder function. This restoration ultimately returns the shoulder girdle and spinal attachments to a balanced position, reducing the chances of recurrence.
Restoring Range of Motion
Receiving chiropractic care for frozen shoulder helps you regain your lost range of motion caused by frozen shoulder and restore optimal movement. Along with traction techniques, CBP chiropractors also develop customized postural exercises to not only assist with range of motion, but to help your core muscles grow strong enough to hold the correct posture once your spine is realigned. This, along with routine maintenance appointments, helps keep your spinal alignment from reverting so that you can reap the benefits of your shoulder’s full range of motion for as long as possible.
A study evaluating the impact of spinal alignment and back muscle strength on shoulder range of motion in middle-aged and elderly people found evidence that increased thoracic kyphosis (spinal misalignment) and weak back muscle strength are the risk factors for limited shoulder range of motion. These results suggest that restoring the spinal alignment and back muscle strength can improve shoulder range of motion.
If you’re noticing any of the symptoms associated with frozen shoulder, schedule an appointment with our office today so we can help get you back on track with pain-free, full-range shoulder mobility.
Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function while eliminating the source of pain and circulatory and nervous dysfunction. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, painless, and non-invasive. Contact us today to learn more about chiropractic care for frozen shoulder or to schedule your appointment.