In my last blog I talked about the amazing mobility range of your shoulder joint. You can swing your arm in full circles in many different planes, reach across your body or over your head, and if you’re really flexible, even scratch your own back. I also explained how your shoulder is held together with muscles and ligaments, with only a very tiny bony attachment. What I didn’t describe is the membranous capsule around the joint. Imagine a flexible sheath around your shoulder like a piece of plastic wrap. Most of the time the capsule is flexible enough allow those great ranges of motion, and at the same time help contain and support the joint. Within this capsule there is also fluid that acts as a lubricant for your shoulder. Unfortunately, for reasons that are still unknown, sometimes this capsule stiffens and develops adhesions, or rough attachments to the tissues underneath. This restricts the motion drastically, and can be a source of tremendous pain. This is a condition known as adhesive capsulitis – or more commonly, frozen shoulder.
Frozen shoulder affects more women than men, and usually those over the age of 40. Many times there is no obvious cause, but the shoulder begins to hurt more and more, and gets harder to move. Frozen shoulder can last for several months, or even years, and most treatments are relatively unsuccessful. The goal of course is to relieve pain and restore proper mobility, but it is not an easy thing to do. In my experience, the best treatment is laser therapy in conjunction with specific exercises. I wrote in a previous post about how the laser worked for my own shoulder for a slightly different problem, and luckily it works for this too! Laser therapy uses a specific wavelength of light which stimulates the cells in your body without damaging them. This stimulation is sometimes exactly what you need to start the healing process.