Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is a condition that occurs when the connective tissue at the top of the bone of your arm is, quite literally, stuck in the shoulder joint. The joint, or capsule, becomes inflamed, and it is difficult if not impossible to move your arm without experiencing serious pain. Symptoms include:
To diagnose frozen shoulder, your practitioner will do movement tests in order to determine how much movement is possible, and the level of pain that is caused by the movements. Once the baseline has been determined, treatment begins. Myofascial release can actually “thaw” a frozen shoulder by releasing the underlying connective tissue and fascia, and then rebalancing the affected muscles and stabilizing the bone of the arm within the joint.
The muscles are released using trigger point therapy, identifying the areas that are painful and not moving. Trigger points are actually muscle fibers that have contracted and deliver pain to other areas, telling the brain to stop movement in their immediate area. Once the trigger points have been released, the muscle can begin functioning once more. Once the trigger points and muscles are released, then the entire area is treated using myofascial release.
Myofascial release targets the fascia, which is the protective membrane that protects every muscle, blood vessel and organ in your body. When the movement of the fascia is restricted, it is impossible for you to move without experiencing pain. When treating the fascia, additional trigger points may be discovered and will have to be released. This is because if the fascia is not moving freely, it inhibits circulation and movement in all the structures that it surrounds.
Treatment may require more than one session. Initially, as much connective and soft tissue surrounding the joints will be released as possible. Then, on a second visit, your practitioner will identify any trigger points that may have been missed. Then, you will be assessed once more for level of mobility and severity of pain.
Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from three to six sessions, each lasting just a bit under an hour, to achieve a significant increase in movement of the shoulder without causing pain. Between treatments, though, the tissues will continue to release, largely due to the movements that you perform naturally each and every day. You will also be provided with a set of easy exercises that you can do at home in order to further facilitate healing.
As treatment progresses, your practitioner will also work to identify problems in other areas that could occur as a result of your natural attempt to compensate for the loss of function in your shoulder and your arm. The nearby structures need to be checked to ensure that they’re not being adversely affected.
In the same way that frozen shoulder can cause difficulties in adjacent areas, it’s also possible that the frozen shoulder is not in and of itself the source of the problem – there could actually be other areas that are, if not actually causing your frozen shoulder, at least contributing to it.
Frozen Shoulder is a painful condition that can greatly restrict your movement. Fortunately, it is very treatable, and one of the best methods of correcting the condition is myofascial release involving a course of three to six treatments to ease your pain and restore mobility.
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