[man in bed and holding head November 1, 2021

Can Frozen Shoulder Cause Headaches?

Your body is a network of muscles, bones, ligaments, and signals, each with their own role to play in ensuring the overall system functions correctly. Pain is a signal that something is wrong. 

But what about frozen shoulder and headaches? Can one lead to the other? If so, how are they connected?

man with sore neck

What is Frozen Shoulder?

Generally speaking, frozen shoulder (aka adhesive capsulitis) occurs when the shoulder capsule around the shoulder joint can contract and form scar tissue, which prevents proper freedom of movement. This restricted range of motion causes swelling, stiffness, and severe pain.

There are various reasons a person can develop frozen shoulder, but in the end the result is always a painful experience. Frozen shoulder syndrome affects your body and makes your daily activities challenging, and unfortunately, it may also lead to related neck pain and headaches.

Why Does Shoulder and Neck Pain Cause Headaches?

The shoulder shares two muscles with the neck: the levator scapulae and the trapezius

The shoulder blade, or scapula, is elevated by the upper part of the trapezius, whether the shoulder is at rest or in an overhead position. The upper trapezius itself is prone to weakening or elongating, which can result in the shoulder blade sinking down too much. 

The result is that the levator scapulae is left in a vulnerable position, as it must work harder on behalf of itself and the trapezius. Because both muscles are attached to the neck bones (also known as the cervical spine or base of the skull), pain in the neck and shoulder area can lead to cervicogenic headaches. 

Frozen Shoulder and Neck Muscles

Dr. Oolo-Austin’s theory behind the causes of frozen shoulder is that there is a pre-existing neck condition that causes compression of the nerves in the lower neck. The transmission of motor signals (i.e., movement and strength) to the shoulder muscles is disrupted, so the interference eventually weakens the shoulder muscles. 

Patients are often unaware of this issue and will experience symptoms, such as headaches, neck pain and stiffness, numbness in the hands, and more.

[physical therapist with patient

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can help many shoulder conditions, such as shoulder impingement, but it’s not the best solution for frozen shoulder Adhesive Capsulitis. Physical therapy exercises can include strengthening exercises to help restore functionality to muscles over time. Physical therapy can temporarily alleviate shoulder pain (and neck pain by extension), but it does not address the main cause of frozen shoulder -the “scar tissue” or adhesions. 

However, physical therapy is best for recovery and rehabilitation for long-term shoulder health. Our clinic will prescribe a customized and intensive schedule of frozen shoulder exercises in the month following their MCD procedure.  

Bear in mind that the term “frozen shoulder” refers to a specific condition. Some individuals mistakenly use it to refer to all kinds of shoulder joint issues and conditions, including tendonitis and rotator cuff tears.

The only way to know for sure if your frozen shoulder is causing headaches is to consult a healthcare professional or frozen shoulder specialist.

woman and child stretching during yoga

Get Head, Neck, and Shoulder Pain Relief at The World Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is still not fully understood by much of the medical community, so many doctors, physical therapists, and other medical practitioners will suggest a myriad of treatment options that aren’t necessarily always the right choice. 

How is our treatment different? We don’t just treat frozen shoulder, we cure frozen shoulder.

In just one hour, you can say goodbye to crippling shoulder pain, and some of your other conditions like neck pain and headaches can disappear as well. Dr. Oolo-Austin pioneered the groundbreaking manual capsular dissection (MCD) procedure that is non-invasive. 

Improve your quality of life today by booking an appointment!

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