patient receiving massage September 8, 2021

Frozen Shoulder Chiropractic Treatment: Does it Work?

Seeing a Chiropractor for Frozen Shoulder Symptoms Can Provide Some Relief, But It Won’t Resolve Adhesive Capsulitis

It’s easy to see why chiropractic care is one of the more popular treatment options for a variety of joint issues that cause pain, stiffness and discomfort. Chiropractic treatments are based on the idea that people who suffer from a localized condition, such as shoulder pain or restricted range of motion, are in need of a holistic approach to re-align the body and provide relief. 

This type of approach has certainly helped many people overcome shoulder issues of different kinds, but to resolve adhesive capsulitis, a highly specialized frozen shoulder treatment is required. 

People sometimes use the term “frozen shoulder” in a general way to describe many kinds of shoulder joint issues and conditions, such as bursitis, tendinitis or a rotator cuff tear. Once identified by a healthcare practitioner, whether a doctor of chiropractic medicine or a physical therapist, these shoulder problems have well established treatment protocols.

But for patients who have received a frozen shoulder diagnosis that confirms adhesive capsulitis, these protocols have little to offer. 

How Frozen Shoulder Restricts Range of Motion

person holding left shoulder

A condition known as adhesive capsulitis is the root cause of persistent, long-term frozen shoulder syndrome. This medical condition advances through three distinct stages:

Freezing Stage

At the outset, the symptoms of adhesive capsulitis resemble many other shoulder joint issues. Frozen shoulder symptoms begin with minor shoulder pain, loss of strength and range of motion constraints, which get progressively worse over its two to nine-month time frame. 

Frozen Stage

At this point, patients experience extremely restricted shoulder movement and significant pain that affects both the active and passive shoulder range of motion. This means that patients cannot move the affected shoulder through a normal range of shoulder abduction (i.e. lifting the arm horizontally, away from the body) and that, even with the assistance of another person, the patient’s shoulders cannot be put through a functional range of motion. 

Thawing Stage

For most people, frozen shoulder eventually improves on its own, but the condition can persist for several months up to two years after the frozen stage. 

At each stage of frozen shoulder syndrome

The Root Causes

Adhesive capsulitis results when the connective tissue within the shoulder capsule becomes contracted and constrained. The formation of adhesions, which are essentially stubborn bits of scar tissue, causes frozen shoulder symptoms, including the inflammation of connective tissues and making it impossible to fully activate the muscle tissues that support the shoulder capsule. 

Weighing Treatment Options

woman performing shoulder exercises

For anyone suffering from frozen shoulder symptoms, it is recommended to consult with a frozen shoulder specialist, rather than a general physical therapy practitioner or chiropractor, because the early symptoms of adhesive capsulitis are often mistaken for other shoulder problems. 

Depending on who they consult, patients could be given a wide range of suggestions, ranging from anti-inflammatory medications to shoulder surgery, because this condition remains poorly understood within the medical community. As it pertains to chiropractic care, its overall focus on spine health and holistic care generally takes patients down a path that involves many treatments with minimal lasting benefit. 

For patients who want to handle their frozen shoulder symptoms quickly and effectively from a dedicated frozen shoulder speciality, a specialized frozen shoulder treatment is needed, like the one offered by the World Frozen Shoulder Clinic.

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