Frozen Shoulder…are you at risk?
Those that are over forty, female and diabetic are more likely to get a painful condition called adhesive capsulitis commonly referred to as frozen shoulder. No one understands why diabetics are more likely to get a frozen shoulder, but an injury to that area can cause it. It is assumed that blood sugar fluctuations and/or hormonal changes could be triggers. What happens is that the range of motion in your arm and shoulder becomes less and less so that everyday tasks such as putting on a jacket, washing your hair and even shaking someone’s hand becomes difficult.
Even if you didn’t break any bones, your medical plan will insist on x-rays first which usually will show nothing. No matter what the x-rays show or don’t show, get an MRI which will show any impingements, inflammation, tears and thickening. This is really important because if you go to physical therapy you want to make sure they are giving you the right therapy and not causing further injury.
There are good and bad physical therapists and you may not know the difference, but if you don’t feel comfortable with your therapist and/or you’re not getting better, ask for someone else. Some therapies work a little and some don’t work at all. Cortisone injections are typically recommended for pain relief, but some people are allergic to cortisone and don’t know it. Some people have increased pain as a result of the cortisone injection. If it is recommended that you have your shoulder manipulated while under anesthesia, do that only as a last resort because one third of the people get better, one third don’t have any improvement, and one third get worse.
There are different phases with frozen shoulder. One is the freezing phase where you get worse and worse and no amount of stretching or therapy will help. I call that the frustrating phase. The next phase is the frozen phase, where you’re just stuck: you’re not getting better, but you’re not getting worse. Last is the thawing phase, where you slowly improve, and gentle stretching and massages will promote faster healing.
To decrease pain, have your spouse do the heavy lifting, chopping, and reaching the items on the upper shelves. No, I’m not kidding! Ice is also nice to cool the pain.
If you have an injured shoulder, you’re not alone, practically everyone I know either has had a shoulder injury, is recovering from one, or is scheduled for surgery. Even the famous actress Teri Hatcher had a frozen shoulder. The good news is that if you have a frozen shoulder, even if you do nothing, it will eventually heal. Just because you have a shoulder injury and cannot do upper body workouts, that doesn’t give you license to quit moving and eat ice cream all day. You can still do various forms of cardio, abs, and leg exercises. Ask your therapist which ones are right for you.
Sources: endocrinologist Dr. Michael Lee, five different physical therapists at Scripps clinic, Frog’s Fitness trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist Bobby Cox