Frozen shoulder AKA “Adhesive Capsulitis” is awful. You can’t move it, do stuff with it, and even sleeping is difficult.
Sound like you? Maybe someone you know? Here is a breakdown of the effective treatment approach our physios use — featuring our BioFlex low intensity lasers — at Avalon Laser Health!
In physio circles, a recent conference highlighted some important new information about the treatment of frozen shoulder.
So what’s going on in that shoulder of yours?
Adhesive Capsulitis is an uncontrolled and exaggerated inflammatory response associated with an equally uncontrolled and exaggerated healing response. This results in an excessive amount of scar tissue over the capsule of the shoulder joint. These completely over-reactive, out of control protection and healing mechanisms are caused by hormonal imbalance, and sometimes there is even an association with heart disease and/or neck conditions. Altogether, frozen shoulder is a serious condition, not to be taken lightly.
Some things we know:
Frozen shoulder often follows a predictable pattern: You wake up one morning with a ‘stiff and painful’” shoulder joint, and are unable to pinpoint specific injury. The pain increases quickly over time and your shoulder becomes progressively stiffer. This is the “freezing” phase which lasts between 6 weeks and 9 months. The subsequent “thawing” phase brings a welcome reduction in pain and some improved mobility.
By the time the injury has reached the “thawing” phase, it is clear that the joint will need rehab to restore strength and function. Earlier however, exercise has not generally been shown to be helpful during the freezing phase of the development of frozen shoulder.
The pain associated with the freezing phase can be severe, and typical treatment options for pain management, range from anti-inflammatory and pain medication, often in high doses, to steroid injections, and sometimes to surgical options.
But… there is an accumulating number of high quality of research studies, including one from an acclaimed Cochrane Review, that indicates that low intensity laser is effective in decreasing pain during the freezing phase! For those who don’t like to (or can’t) ingest large amounts of pain or anti-inflammatory medications, this is excellent news.
To be fair and upfront, there was no duration effect reported in the research, perhaps because the length of time the joint spends in the freezing phase is so variable. Two actual patient case reports presented at the conference required 9 and 21 laser treatments, respectively, to achieve 80% clinical improvement, with a maintenance program of one laser monthly recommended in the latter case. This means every shoulder will take its own time to heal, however, the known action of low intensity laser serves to accelerate healing.
For the technically inclined, the laser stimulates the healing process by stimulating ATP production (i.e. fuel/energy) inside the cell and modulates the levels of super-oxide radicals required to reduce cellular stress.
Using this research, our recommended treatment plan in the clinic is two-fold:
- Consult with your medical and/or naturopathic doctor to confirm diagnosis.
- Start laser therapy as early as possible following diagnosis, supplementing laser with physio/massage (initially very gentle, of course), and waiting for pain to subside at least 50% before exercises for rehabilitation are initiated.
We know how long-standing chronic pain affects your life and have the tools and the expertise to help. If you have any questions, reach out… book a free 15 minute telephone consult with one of our physiotherapists. Get your questions answered and trust that we are here to help you get healthy and mobile again.
Are We The Right Clinic For You?
Have some questions before you sign up for your first appointment? Schedule a FREE 15-Minute Telephone Consult with one of our practitioners.
Our clinic newsletter comes out once a month. It's how we share FREE resources from our staff to help you invest in your well being at home. If you don't like it, you can always unsubscribe in a click.