2 min read


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What Is Frozen Shoulder?

If you’ve experienced a serious injury to the shoulder, like a rotator cuff tear, you may have been warned about developing adhesive capsulitis, otherwise known as “frozen shoulder”.

This condition gets the name “frozen shoulder” due to the stiffness and pain it causes.

What Is Frozen Shoulder?
Frozen shoulder is significant shoulder mobility restriction and pain that develops slowly, and can sometimes last for 1-2 years. It typically develops during long periods of rest (e.g. post-fracture and post-surgery).

The shoulder joint has connective tissue surrounding it. This tissue typically serves to stabilize the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder, and acts as a support structure. With this condition the connective tissue becomes immobilized and inflamed.

stiff shoulder

Who Gets Frozen Shoulder?
Frozen shoulder affects up to 3% of the US population. Of all the shoulder conditions that cause immobility and pain after the age of 40, adhesive capsulitis is the leader. The major risk factors for developing it include:

  • Non-dominant hand/arm.
  • Rotator cuff pathology.
  • Glenohumeral fracture.
  • Systemic diseases such as diabetes mellitus, thyroid dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

    frozen shoulder

    What Causes Frozen Shoulder?
    There are two primary causes for frozen shoulder, but the mechanism of development is largely unknown. Primary adhesive capsulitis is idiopathic – pain and immobility gradually develop without any specific cause.

    Secondary adhesive capsulitis is associated with systemic issues of the body such as diabetes mellitus, hormone issues, rotator cuff injuries, shoulder injuries, calcific tendinitis, cervical spondylosis, and strokes to name a few.

    What Are The Symptoms?
    The main symptoms of adhesive capsulitis involve movement restriction and pain. There are three stages involving these symptoms:

  • Freezing stage: shoulder range of motion begins to diminish, and general movement (particularly overhead and behind the back) movements become painful. This stage ranges from 1-9 months.

  • Frozen stage: shoulder movements become even more stiff, though pain begins to reduce. Functional use (e.g. reaching overhead, putting a coat on) becomes much more difficult. This stage ranges from 4-12 months.

  • Thawing stage: this is when movement and pain begin to improve, and previous loss of functional movements slowly return. This stage ranges from 5-24 months.

    How Do You Prevent and Manage It?
    Most cases of adhesive capsulitis develop during long periods of immobility such as healing from a shoulder break, stroke, or a post-surgical rotator cuff tear. For some it will develop without any associated cause. Regardless of cause, once safe, movement will be key.

    Maintaining health movement, strength, stability, and facilitating appropriate muscle recovery of the neck-back-shoulder complex is key.

    The physical therapy interventions that are most favorable focus on manual therapy, progressive stretching, and myofascial techniques to maintain optimal shoulder movement and strength. This is most important in frozen and thawing stage.

  • Myofascial techniques: focus on the muscle and fascial tension that builds with frozen shoulder, providing stimulus to aid in movement and recovery.

  • Progressive manual therapy: mixing joint mobilization, deep tissue massage, progressive stretching, and muscle energy techniques.

  • Exercise: focused on challenging and progressing range of motion, scapular stability, and strength for functional movements.

    Frozen shoulder is a long road for many, but the right treatment can get you back to moving at your best.

    Ready to start managing your shoulder mobility?

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  • 3 min read

    DIY: Avoid Muscle Aches During Your Flight

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    DIY: Avoid Muscle Aches During Your Flight

    Is it officially travel season yet? Well, we can’t wait and we say it is now! Grab your suitcases, sunglasses, and dreaded muscle aches..?

    Everybody loves to travel, but who loves the stress that comes along with it? All the multiple line-ups, overnight layovers, and long airplane rides can take a huge toll on your body – you’ll be broken before you arrive at your destination. So, we came up with four great tips to help with muscle pain relief that will have your body ready for take-off!

    1. Stay Hydrated

    Airplanes have very low humidity and can lead you to become dehydrated. So drink lots of water the day before and while you are on the flight. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages before and during the trip since it will dehydrate you.

    2. Pump Your Ankles

    Pump your ankles from side-to-side and up-and-down to avoid stiffness, and swelling, and twisted ankle pain. Since you’re sitting for extended periods of time, the muscles that are responsible for pumping blood and fluid back up our legs are not being used at all, which can lead to pooling of fluid and blood in our lower leg over time. The swelling itself is not dangerous, but it can cause blood clots which are very dangerous and can potentially cause death. So pump away!

    3. Movement is Medicine

    It’s never good to stay in one position, especially sitting for long periods of time. We all heard the phrase, “sitting is the new smoking”, and you can guarantee you will be sitting and sleeping in an uncomfortable position on the plane. Your body will take a beating and cause many hip problems, spine pain, shoulder injuries, and pain in your neck muscles. So how do we combat that? It’s simple – move. Get up and walk every 30 minutes, if possible.

    4. Stuck in your seat? Let me introduce you to Pandiculation!

    What is the Pandiculation definition? It’s the natural stretching that occurs when you first wake up in the morning. When you’re yawning and reaching up towards the sky with your arms and hands to stretch. This stretch is done to every single part of your body even within limited space such as an airplane seat. So reach your hand up towards the sky, extend your legs, move your neck, contract and expand your chest and move your body in all directions to ease out any area that you feel is restricted. The key is to slowly do these movements and feel where your body naturally wants to go to relax tension. Just remember, not to bump into your neighbour.