Health conditions

Shoulder problems

Frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder is when your shoulder gets so inflamed the capsule around it contracts and gets scarred, causing significant restriction of movement. This restriction is what is meant by “frozen”.
Frozen shoulder can be caused by previous injury or sometimes happens for no reason. Diabetes, surgery and stroke can predispose you to getting a frozen shoulder. It can take 2 years to recover,

How Osteopathy can help

Osteopaths treat frozen shoulders with massage, stretch and mobilisation. We look at the neck and spine to make sure the nearby joints are working well and not contributing to the lack of movement and pain. We will give support and guidance on exercises to improve joint movement, pain relief and ways to help reduce inflammation in the joint.

Self help

  • Keep your shoulder warm with a heat pack, and wear something in bed so it doesn’t get chilled.
  • Try cold packs for 5 minutes at a time, and from the fridge not the freezer.
  • Try to move your shoulder if you can.
  • Do the exercises your doctor or osteopath has given you.
  • Don’t make up your own exercises,  don’t do strenuous weights or planks.

Rotator Cuff Injury

Rotator cuff injuries can occur as a result of progressive degenerative changes in the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles. This can present as a dull ache in the shoulder, radiating into the lateral part of the arm, and aggravated by lying on the affected side. It is more common with increasing age, certain sporting activities, construction workers who do a lot of overhead work, and those with a family history of rotator cuff injury. In acute cases, there may be a sudden pain in the shoulder after a trauma, with sudden loss of movement and weakness in the shoulder.

There may be varying degrees of damage, ranging from inflammation of the tendon and bursitis around it, to tears of the tendon and full thickness rupture.

Acute onset after a trauma with weakness and loss of movement may need to be referred for imaging as there may be a need for surgical repair of the tendon.

Most cases of rotator cuff injury will respond to non-surgical treatment, and recovery and prognosis is good.
Initially, it is recommended to refrain from activities which aggravate it, apply cold packs and use anti-inflammatories and pain relief. It is important to maintain some range of movement in the shoulder and not to completely immobilise the joint for prolonged periods as this may lead to thickening and contraction of connective tissue around the joint (frozen shoulder).

How Osteopathy can help

Osteopathic treatment will help to increase movement in the joint with the use of passive mobilisation techniques followed by active mobilisations and strengthening exercises, eventually leading to over head strength training. This process is necessarily slow, as loading the shoulder before it is ready will re-injure it.

Rotator cuff injuries can appear to come from a trivial cause like reaching up into cupboard. We are often unaware of the underlying degenerative changes within the shoulder until an event like this. One can prevent future injuries by doing daily stretching exercises to the shoulders and by doing strengthening exercises. Caution is always needed when doing these overhead.