I seem to have had a sudden influx of clients coming to see me with shoulder pain and reduced mobility. Some of whom have been diagnosed with having a frozen shoulder. So I thought that I would use this opportunity to write a blog about this very subject.

What is a frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is also known as Adhesive Capsulitis. It is a condition where the shoulder capsule and surrounding tissues become inflamed causing pain, stiffness and loss of movement. Frozen shoulder episodes can last from a few months, up to a few years.

It is a very painful condition and can cause problems getting comfortable in bed at night. This can make it difficult to get good quality sleep. So when clients come to see me they are usually in pain, tired and stressed.

What are the causes of a frozen shoulder?

It is not always known why you might develop a frozen shoulder. But it is more commonly found in those who have diabetes, thyroid disease and those who have had an injury to their shoulder, which has stopped them being able to move it in the usual way.

What can the NHS do for a frozen shoulder?

It is recommended that you see your GP if you have continued shoulder pain and restricted movement. When you see your GP they may recommend painkillers, refer you to a physiotherapist, recommend gentle shoulder exercises and in some cases a steroid injection to reduce the inflammation.

What is a frozen shoulder mean from a Chinese Medicine perspective?

It is believed in Chinese Medicine that a frozen shoulder can be caused by a variety of things.

A common reason is believed to be an invasion of cold or wind into the body causing pain in the energy channels or meridians. This might be because you live and work in a windy, cold environment, sitting by a draft or even a strongly air-conditioned building.

Another reason is an imbalance in the meridians that surround or go through the neck and shoulders. This could be caused by;

  • an emotional reason
  • a constitutional weakness in the body
  • an energetic (Qi or Chi) imbalance
  • an injury to the area
  • poor posture
  • repetitive strain to the muscles or joints in that area
  • a deficiency or restricted movement of bodily fluids in the meridians.

Can treatments at So Shiatsu help?

Shiatsu treatments can help improve the symptoms of a frozen shoulder.

I would first do a full consultation and review you from a Chinese Medicine perspective.

I would then treat any appropriate meridians that are being affected. I will focus on the painful shoulder, back and neck, but I may also treat other areas of your body as I always treat the whole person. I will use techniques such as gentle rotations and stretches within your capability and work on the meridians using my hands and thumbs.

I may also recommend trying some Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). This might be having a treatment with me focusing on your pain and/or I will teach you how to do this yourself at home.

Initially I recommend coming for Shiatsu appointments once a week as you would do at an Osteopath or Chiropractic appointment. The amount of treatments required will depend on the cause, severity and how long you have had these symptoms for.

Things to try at home if you have been diagnosed with a frozen shoulder

  • If I have recommended EFT then I would suggest doing this daily, focusing on your pain and discomfort. Contact me if you would like to know more about how to do this.
  • If you suspect poor posture or repetitive strain is the cause of your frozen shoulder, and you are often on the computer. Then do a work station assessment to see if you can improve your posture whilst working. Some companies will have a dedicated person in-house who can do this for you. Wherever you work, be sure that you take frequent breaks from the computer and get up and do some gentle stretches.
  • If your GP or Physiotherapist has given you some exercises. Then it is advisable to continue practicing these. If not, then do regular gentle movements using your neck and shoulders and arms. But stop if you are causing pain and return to the doctor for further guidance.
  • Be aware of your posture. Being continually hunched (guilty as charged) can cause strain on your neck and shoulders, This includes when you look at your mobile phone!
  • Be cautious at the gym. Check with your GP, physiotherapist and gym instructor what exercises can help or make things worse.
  • If heat helps then use a warm oat bag or hot water bottle on the affected area. This can help the pain and bring warmth into the neck and shoulder.
  • Protect your neck from the wind whilst outside by wearing a scarf.
  • Don’t sit beside an open window or under air conditioning if you can. If you don’t have an option then try to wear a scarf.

If you have any questions or would like to book a Shiatsu or EFT treatment with me then Contact me, as I would love to hear from you.