What is Frozen Shoulder? Frozen shoulder, or it’s other name adhesive capsulitis, is a painful condition of the shoulder that also limits range of motion and use of the affected arm. In Chinese medicine, it is known as ’50 year shoulder’ as this is the most common age of onset for this condition. Let’s take a look at the Western medical views and Chinese medicine view on this problem and the treatments available.

First, Western medicine. Frozen shoulder is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. The condition begins slowly and often gets worse over time with frozen shoulder generally lasting between 1 and 3 years.
Medical conditions such as recent mastectomy, fracture or stroke may increase your risk of developing frozen shoulder, particularly if it results in arm immobility for a prolonged period of time.

Conventional treatment involves range of motion exercise, light strength training, cortisone injections and pain medications which can have some side effects. A small number of cases may have some response to surgery. As with the risks of any surgery, a more conservative approach to treatment may want to be attempted first.

Frozen shoulder typically progresses in 3 stages:

Freezing stage: Movement of the shoulder produces pain and the range of motion of the shoulder starts to reduce.
Frozen stage: The pain can sometimes abate during the frozen stage yet the range of motion may be severely limited.
Thawing stage: In this stage, the range of motion may start to improve, yet, the pain may still be present such as sleeping on the affected shoulder at night.

What causes frozen shoulder? Western medicine is not quite sure why frozen shoulder occurs yet they observe that capsule of connective tissue encasing the shoulder and it’s ligaments, tendons, muscle and bones begins to tighten and thicken around the shoulder joint and thus restricting it’s movement.

Risk factors include being over 40 and female, those with a prolonged immobility of the shoulder due to a broken arm or injured wrist for instance or those with certain systemic diseases such as diabetes, thyroid conditions, cardio vascular conditions and Parkinson’s.

From the Chinese medicine point of view, causes of frozen shoulder can include; general debility due to age, trauma and strain to the shoulder either acutely or chronically, a relationship to chronic neck problems such as cervical spondylopathy and rheumatic arthritis to name a few!

Treatment with Chinese medicine and Acupuncture can involve a few directions. Namely, promoting blood circulation, relieving pain and rigidity of the muscles, separating adhesion, activating certain meridians and acupuncture points related to the shoulder and herbs to strengthen the bodies resilience and rectify any underlying imbalances and debility. Treatment programs are designed specifically tailored to individuals where different points are used for different individuals and herb combinations are specific to dose and combinations of herbs that work best for that person.

If you are looking to treat your frozen shoulder naturally? Consider Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. Fill out an inquiry form or phone (02) 9188 1560

Manual treatment for traumatic injuries by Xu Meng Zhong
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