Neck pain and Frozen Shoulder commonly occur together. When pain comes from these two areas, it can be hard to cope with because the neck and shoulder may not be able to move as freely. This can make it harder to do more things than when only one area is affected. But is Frozen Shoulder connected to neck pain? Can neck pain be triggered by shoulder pain?
At World Frozen Shoulder Clinic, we specialize in finding relief for shoulder conditions such as Frozen Shoulder, Shoulder Impingement Syndrome, Bursitis and Rotator Cuff Tendonitis. This article discusses the connection between shoulder and neck pain and what shoulder treatments to consider.
WHAT IS FROZEN SHOULDER?
To understand what Frozen Shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is, let’s start by considering the shoulder’s mechanics. Like a sleeve, we have a capsule surrounding a ball and socket joint. This joint is known as the Glenohumeral joint.
The capsule allows the ball and socket joint to rotate freely. When Frozen Shoulder develops, the capsule compresses, thickens, inflames, and lays down scar tissue. In other words, painful, restrictive adhesions that form abnormally across the joint capsule’s lining clinging to bone and soft tissue, causing the capsule to shrink. This, in turn, means inadequate space for normal shoulder rotation, resulting in a major loss of mobility, the development of acute shoulder and arm pain, and a nearly total loss of normal shoulder function. We refer to this as the capsular component of Frozen Shoulder.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF FROZEN SHOULDER?
The following are some of the most commonly reported frozen shoulder symptoms:
- Usually dull and painful shoulder pain
- Pain when sleeping on the affected shoulder
- Limited shoulder mobility, with considerable discomfort if it is moved beyond a particular range.
- Difficulty performing different activities, such as brushing teeth/hair
Additionally, since frozen shoulder symptoms can spread beyond the shoulder, patients may also experience:
- Neck pain
- Neck stiffness
- Upper shoulder pain
- Elbow/forearm pain
- Numbness in the hands
WHAT CAUSES FROZEN SHOULDER?
To date, there is no universally recognized cause of Frozen Shoulder. Yet, based on the last 40 years of clinical observations, it has become evident to the World Frozen Shoulder Clinic specialists that there are three common denominators in patients suffering from Frozen Shoulder.
1. Nerve Compression (Lower Neck Disc Pathology)
Patients with lower neck disc problems or muscular contraction conditions, which compress the nerves that supply the shoulder and arm with sensory and motor information, are invariably affected by Frozen Shoulder. This gradually weakens the muscles around and within the shoulder joint.
2. Hormonal Disproportion
Those with hormonal imbalances, such as diabetes, thyroid, adrenal stress, testosterone imbalance, etc., are generally susceptible to Frozen Shoulder.
When the body’s endocrine system is out of balance, the immune system and healing response are also out of balance. If the imbalance is particularly severe, the healing response to a shoulder strain injury will be either over reactive or under reactive.
3. Shoulder Strain Injury
When a muscle or tendon is injured or strained, the body responds with protective inflammation (swelling).
This would ordinarily boost the body’s healing response, but when paired with a hormonal imbalance, the inflammatory reaction is significantly heightened. As a result, excessive scar tissue is produced in and around the shoulder joint.
HOW IS FROZEN SHOULDER AND NECK PAIN RELATED?
The shoulder and neck share two muscles: the levator scapulae and trapezius. The upper portion of the trapezius elevates the shoulder blade, or scapula, whether the shoulder is at rest or in an overhead position. The upper trapezius is prone to weakening or elongation, which can result in excessive slumping of the shoulder blade.
As a result, the levator scapulae is left in a vulnerable position, as it must exert greater effort for both itself and the trapezius. Since these muscles are attached to the neck bones (also known as the cervical spine or base of the skull), discomfort in the shoulder region can result in neck pain and cervicogenic headaches.
According to Dr Oolo Austin’s theory, Frozen Shoulder can be triggered by a pre existing neck condition that causes nerve compression in the lower neck. The transmission of motor signals (i.e., movement and strength) to the shoulder muscles is disrupted, resulting in muscular shoulder weakness.
Symptoms, such as headaches, neck pain and stiffness, numbness in the hands, and more, are commonly experienced by patients unaware of this condition.
HOW ARE NECK AND SHOULDER PAIN TREATED?
Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve or Naprosyn) are frequently used to address soft tissue neck and shoulder pain. Painkillers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) may also be given. Local applications of moist heat or cold may also be used to alleviate pain.
People with Frozen Shoulder often utilize various methods to release the scar tissue from the capsule. Sometimes, conventional treatments such as physiotherapy, chiropractic, osteopathy, massage therapy, and acupuncture might be helpful. It is minor if they provide relief since they can only address the secondary muscle component. Moreover, research indicates that physical therapy can worsen the condition. In either case, conventional treatments address only the muscles, not the root of the problem.
HOW CAN FROZEN SHOULDER BE TREATED?
Until fairly recently, the only treatment alternatives were:
- Physical therapy
- Pain and anti-inflammatory medication
- Cortisone injections
- Frozen shoulder surgery
- Some combination of the above
Furthermore, standard treatments frequently require up to nine months of intense post-operative rehabilitation (which is not guaranteed to work!)
Dr Allan Gary Oolo-Austin pioneered the Manual Capsular Dissection (MCD) procedure, a groundbreaking non-surgical procedure with an incredible 98% clinical success rate in restoring frozen shoulder range of motion and functionality.
The method involves isolating the adhesive tissue inside and outside the shoulder capsule and separating it using specific patient movements and specific mobilization procedures. Unlike arthroscopic surgery, the MCD Procedure is completely non-invasive, does not involve cutting into the shoulder and is completed in one visit.
SHOULDER TREATMENTS AVAILABLE AT WORLD FROZEN SHOULDER CLINIC
Dr Oolo-Austin’s MCD procedure has been enormously successful and is the first of its kind. The MCD procedure is conducted with local anesthetics and analgesics, maintaining some tonicity in the muscles to ensure no harm to the joint or surrounding tissues occurs. The offensive fibrotic scar tissue or adhesions are manually dissected to restore the patient’s mobility, in turn the pressure is released from the nerve endings which alleviates the dreaded nerve pain. Mobility restored and nerve pain alleviated non-invasively in a single treatment.
Call us for a free consultation so that we can discuss your case, offer medical advice, and answer your questions. You could soon be on your way to one of our many global offices, where you’ll finally find the relief you deserve!
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