Like virtually everything else on our bodies, our shoulder is way more intricate and interesting than many of us give credit for! Three separate bones combine to form the shoulder joint. Those three bones are: the upper arm bone (humerus), the shoulder blade (scapula), and the collarbone (clavicle). Tissue then surrounds this shoulder joint and holds everything together. This is called the shoulder capsule.
Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis) is a condition that can afflict this joint. It is characterised by varying degrees of stiffness (there’s the frozen part) and pain.
For sufferers of frozen shoulder, the shoulder capsule becomes thick and tight, so much so that it is hard to move. Inflammation and bands of scar tissue form, and the liquid that usually surrounds and lubricates the joint – synovial fluid – becomes scarce.
The causes of Frozen Shoulder are still much of a mystery to the medical world, but theories include injury or trauma to the area, which can include tendonitis, bursitis, or damage/injury to the rotator cuff. It is also thought that the condition may have an autoimmune component, such as arthritis.
Pain is usually constant, and is often worse at night, and with cold weather. Certain movements or bumps/jostles can provoke episodes of severe pain and cramping.
Depending on the severity of the case, treatment may include surgery, physical therapy and/or massage therapy. Corticosteroid and Hydrodilation injections may be useful in controlling pain and inflammation.
Massage therapy is a great go-to treatment because it increases the blood circulation to the injured region, and reduces muscle stiffness and the formation of scar tissue. Unfortunately, there is no 'quick fix' for Frozen Shoulder, but regular massage will bring the greatest and most consistent relief, as pain and stiffness will usually begin to abate after a massage treatment.