woman massaging persons arm November 7, 2021

The Active Release Technique: Frozen Shoulder Cure?

Suppose you have a frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis

If you have it, you are probably well aware that it’s a condition that limits the shoulder’s range of motion, passing through three stages referred to as freezing, frozen, and thawing stages. It can take a frozen shoulder many months (or even years) before it reaches the thawing stage, and an untreated frozen shoulder may never return to normal. 

You may also know that a frozen shoulder can result from various issues, including former shoulder injuries, surgeries, or other factors. In all cases, the shoulder joint capsule contracts and forms scar tissue, causing extreme pain and stiffness in the shoulder, and an inability to move it past a certain point.

There are various ways to manage frozen shoulder, such as through corticosteroid injections and acupuncture, but there is only one true cure: the MCD procedure.

man flexing arm muscles

What is the Active Release Technique (ART)?

In addition to shoulder strains and frozen shoulder syndrome, ART is useful for a wide range of conditions, including chronic neck pain, plantar fasciitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. 

It’s a technique that’s been around for at least 30 years. ART aims to break up scar tissue, aka adhesions, through soft tissue manipulations, and it targets pain and other conditions in major muscle groups, tendons, and ligaments. 

During the procedure, the doctor will feel around the area to identify the scar tissue’s location. They will isolate the area and manipulate it using massages, exercises, and physical activities, thereby improving the blood flow for proper healing. 

Chiropractors, massage therapists, and physical therapists are often trained in ART. Always ensure that you visit a certified healthcare professional by doing your research.

Is Active Release Therapy painful without anesthesia?

Yes, it can be excruciating, because the doctor uses precise pressure during the manipulations and a patient’s body is moved in ways that break up scar tissue aggressively. Like acupuncture, they may require more than one session before they see results.

doctor with arms crossed

An Alternative: Manipulation under Anesthesia (MUA)

The MUA technique is performed with a patient under anesthesia while a doctor moves their frozen shoulder with force and various manipulations that go beyond the patient’s passive range of motion. This type of shoulder manipulation technique is much too painful for patients to endure while awake. MUA is a technique that’s recommended when the shoulder is at the end of its second stage. 

During the process, the doctor moves the shoulder to break up the scar tissue that caused the frozen shoulder. After the manipulation part of the procedure, an intra-articular steroid injection is administered to the patient to aid in recovery. Patients must attend physiotherapy treatment shortly after the MUA to ensure full recovery in the shoulder joint. If they require further medical attention for their shoulder after the recovery period, they may need a surgical procedure called arthroscopic capsular release. 

While MUA breaks up scar tissue, ART only breaks up myofacial adhesions, which are adhesions on the surface of the muscle, and NOT adhesions surrounding the capsule. Unfortunately, ART doesn’t deal with root of the problem, and both ART and MUA methods carry a fair amount of risk, including: 

  • Shoulder Dislocation
  • Rotator Cuff Tears
  • Blood Clotting
  • Nerve Damage
  • Brachial Plexus Traction Injuries

Bear in mind that a medical professional must review your history and assess your current condition. They will prescribe the best frozen shoulder treatment options relevant to you.

How Do You Know If You Have Scar Tissue? 

Many symptoms of scar tissue resemble that of other injuries and conditions, so knowing if you have frozen shoulder in its first stage is difficult. Here are the symptoms to look for: 

  • Stiffness (Neck, elbow, hands, knees, or back)
  • Increased pain when exercising
  • Sharp pain on the bottom of your foot near the heel
  • Pain, numbness, and tingling in your fingers
  • Reduced flexibility and limited range of motion
  • Inflamed joints
  • Weakness in muscles

If you suspect that you have a frozen shoulder or have any issues with shoulder motion, see a medical professional right away. To cure frozen shoulder and get back to normal activities, the MCD procedure is the best treatment strategy!

woman stretching on exercise ball

Regain Full Control Over Your Shoulder Joint with the MCD Procedure

The World Frozen Shoulder staff provide patients with a non-invasive procedure that lasts about an hour, using ultrasound- guided local anesthetics and IV administered analgesics. 

The patient is under a twilight zone sedation so that the muscles have tonicity and provide feedback. This process is much safer than a general anesthetic where the muscles are in a flaccid state of paralysis. With this, the patient can experience absolutely no pain during the procedure! 

After the procedure, our medical professionals will prescribe a rigorous physical therapy treatment to assist in recovery and rehabilitation. Contact us today to learn more or book an appointment.

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