Frozen Shoulder Syndrome

Frozen shoulder syndrome is caused by inflammation in the shoulder joint.

Frozen shoulder syndrome, also called adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder, is a very painful restriction of the shoulder joint caused by inflammation of the connective tissue (capsule) that surrounds, and holds together, the shoulder joint (gleno-humeral joint).

It is 2-3 times more common in women than men, and mostly occurs between ages 40-60. Although at times extremely painful and debilitating, this frozen shoulder syndrome (adhesive capsulitis) tends to resolve on its own within 1-3 years, and is self limiting.

The most common complaints are a dull, aching pain, that may be sharp or tearing with a sudden movement, and inability to raise the arm up to, or above, the head, limiting simple activities such as hair brushing, tooth brushing, and putting on a sweater or jacket, or picking up a child or pet.

Shoulder injuries result in adhesions that cause pain and restrict movement.

The shoulder joint (gleno-humaral joint) is protected and stabilized by a capsule made up of tough connective tissue and containing a lubricating substance, called synovial fluid.  Recent or old injuries to the joint, infections, and inflammation (trapped nerves, tight muscles), as well as surgery on the shoulder joint or nearby structures can lead to adhesions in the connective tissue (capsule), reducing mobility and causing pain.

Moreover, the tendons of several muscles cross the shoulder joint from above, below, the front, and the back.  These tendons are also a form of connective tissue.  When there is trauma to the shoulder joint, or the muscles and/or tendons, the muscles will contract (shorten) around the injury in order to protect the body from further injury.

The pain discourages movement of the arm and shoulder, which leads to more adhesions, tightness, and stiffness, and more pain with even the smallest movement.

Joint movement stimulates the joint to produce synovial fluid necessary to resolve frozen shoulder syndrome.

The synovial fluid creates a fluid buffer that allows for smooth movement of the joint.  However, a lack of movement causes the joint to dry up.  Without the fluid buffer and lubrication within the joint, any movement of the joint itself will result in inflammation, swelling, and more pain. People start using the other arm instead.  Needless to say, all activities, and the quality of life itself, are impacted by frozen shoulder syndrome.

Craniosacral therapy and energetic unwinding help the body to heal from frozen shoulder syndrome.

Craniosacral therapy helps the body to release restrictions in the connective tissue (fascia, ligaments, tendons, etc) anywhere in the body.  As the fascia opens up again, the muscles can relax and lengthen.  The joint is freed up and can move with greater ease, and the brain gets the message that it no longer needs to protect the body through muscle contraction.  Moreover, this therapy is exceedingly gentle and thus more acceptable than many other therapies when the pain level is already so high.

Over the years, I’ve developed a therapy I call energetic unwinding of the spine, joints & muscles, which is an intuitive blending of craniosacral therapy, acupressure, and soft tissue work.  This therapy is even more effective, and every bit as gentle, than craniosacral therapy alone, because it hones in on the areas of concern.