Some time ago I read an article about a celebrity by the name of Teri Hatcher (of Desperate Housewives fame) who suffered problems from a frozen shoulder. Proof positive this can happen to famous people and not so famous people like you and I.
Many times a frozen shoulder occurs when there has been a recurring overuse of the shoulder’s rotator cuff. This condition can occur when you engage in repetitive activities like working on an assembly line, painting, or yard work.
A frozen shoulder can also happen when there is a sudden demand or overextension of the joint. This can happen to someone who is playing sports like softball, baseball, bowling or working hard manual labor. Additionally, prolonged immobilization of the arm and shoulder from a fracture or stroke can also contribute to this condition.
This type of injury can occur more frequently in older individuals. Particularly, it tends to happen to women between the ages of 40 and 60 years.
This annoying type of an injury can prevent you from performing many of your daily activities such as bathing, dressing, combing your hair, driving your car, picking up your children, mowing the lawn, washing your car, vacuuming and other common household chores.
Typically, the symptoms reported are a mild or sharp pain where the upper arm joins the shoulder girdle. This happens when you try to move your arm beyond the now very limited range of motion. What is actually happening is an adhesion of connective tissue to the bone and the muscle’s tendons, hence the medical name for this condition: adhesive capsulitis.
The shoulder joint is designed to have a wide range of motion. Once it is injured, the connective tissue itself starts to form adhesions by producing a type of bio-organic glue. When you try to move it beyond the acceptable range, it hurts.
Previous bad posture habits of working over a computer day in and day out with an arching of the shoulders forward, and/or having a telephone cradled in your ear forcing a contorted body posture, can result in body imbalances that contribute to a misalignment that exacerbates any additional overuse of the rotator cuff or sudden demand or overextension of the shoulder joint.
Left on its own, a frozen shoulder could take between six months to three years to heal. Conventional medicine often resorts to cortical steroid injections, surgery and PT, as did Terry Hatcher, and while much improved she reports still suffering from a stiffness in her shoulders.
There is a much more holistic and effective approach than the one offered up by conventional medicine. Such an approach would have to start with identifying where and how distortions of proper alignment and posture in other areas of the body are impacting the shoulder girdle. For example, if one hip is higher than the other the chances are good one shoulder will be higher than the other.
If the shoulders are protracted or rounded forward then the shortened fascial sheets in the front of the body that are pulling the shoulders forward will have to be lengthened. We should also address the way the shoulder girdle my have become “hard-wired” into the spine by shortened fascia and muscles. As part of this kind of whole body approach, it is then possible to apply hands-on pressure into the offending local adhesions in a way that is both effective and lasting, without the residual stiffness that Terri Hatcher described.
The result is healing the shoulder, as well as healing the whole ‘mind-body beings’ that we are so that we can once again perform the day to day activities that we enjoy without the pain and discomfort previously experienced.