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Frozen Shoulder Treatments

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. It tends to develop gradually in stages. Frozen shoulder can make it difficult to lift objects and perform everyday activities—sometimes it even impacts your ability to work, especially if you have a physically demanding job. The pain can make it difficult or impossible to move your shoulder. You may also experience worsening shoulder pain at night that makes it difficult to sleep.

The good news is that frozen shoulder usually resolves on its own—but it can take between one and three years. What can you do in the meantime? Below we explore the different stages of frozen shoulder, what causes it, and how it’s treated—including standard treatments versus chiropractic care.

Frozen shoulder tends to develop in three stages—each with its own distinct symptoms and general timeline—as follows:

“Freezing” Stage

  • Pain (sometimes severe) develops whenever you try to move your shoulder
  • The pain tends to get worse over time
  • The pain and stiffness limit your range of motion
  • Typically lasts for 6 to 9 months

“Thawing” Stage

  • Pain and stiffness improve
  • Range of motion starts to return to normal
  • Can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to return to normal
man with shoulder pain

Frozen Shoulder Causes

It’s not clear what causes frozen shoulder, but some people are at greater risk of developing it. Women are more prone to developing frozen shoulder than men. Those between the ages of 40 and 60 (both women and men) are also more likely to develop it.

People with certain medical conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, thyroid disease, and Parkinson’s disease are also at increased risk, as are those who are recovering from certain types of surgery (such as a mastectomy).

doctor pointing to forms with patient

Frozen Shoulder Treatments

Standard treatments for frozen shoulder range from over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, to more invasive treatments, such as corticosteroid injections, joint distension (in which sterile water is injected into the shoulder to improve range of motion), and, rarely, arthroscopic surgery.

While pain relievers and injections may provide temporary relief, they often only mask the problem and require repeat use/procedures. Surgery is typically reserved for the most advanced cases that haven’t responded to other treatments.

man holding shoulder

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is an alternative to more invasive standard treatments and often provides complete relief of symptoms. And, chiropractic therapy has been shown in studies to improve frozen shoulder symptoms.1,2

  • The chiropractic care experts at Chalmers Wellness will begin moving your shoulder through its full range of motion and then evaluate what you can do on your own (without assistance). This will give the doctor a better understanding of exactly where the problem is.
  • The doctor will then apply manual pressure to the joints near your shoulder to help restore mobility. Over time and with repeated sessions (as needed), your specialist can help you move into the “thawing out” stage, and you’ll notice an improvement in your range of motion.

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