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Frozen Shoulder

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If you are experiencing difficulties raising your arm in the air, across your body, or behind your back, you may be displaying early symptoms of frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis), a condition that leads to the gradual loss of mobility in the sh.

If you are experiencing difficulties raising your arm in the air, across your body, or behind your back, you may be displaying early symptoms of frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis), a condition that leads to the gradual loss of mobility in the shoulder joints.

Frozen shoulder is caused by inflammation due to overuse or irregular use for a long period of time. The capsule surrounding the shoulder thickens and contracts, restricting movement of the upper arm bone (the humerus). It differs from bursitis in that the bursa, the small sac of fluid that eases movement in the shoulder, is not affected.

Symptoms include pain and stiffness when you move the arm and diminished range of motion. Reaching for an object on a high shelf or on the back seat of the car becomes increasingly difficult.

Frozen shoulder affects five percent of the population, twice as many women as men, and usually afflicts people between 40 and 65 years of age. About 20 percent of diabetics are affected by frozen shoulder, possibly because excess glucose contributes to abnormal deposits of collagen in the cartilage and tendons of the shoulder, which causes the shoulder to stiffen.

Three Stages

Unlike bursitis, which often develops quickly, usually after a specific injury or overuse, frozen shoulder appears slowly in three stages:

Stage 1: There is increasing pain with shoulder movement with some loss of movement. This usually lasts two to nine months.

Stage 2: Pain and discomfort decrease but range of motion fails to increase significantly (up to 50-percent less movement than unaffected arm). This stage may last for four to 12 months.

Stage 3: The symptoms begin to disappear, and motion is slowly re-established. However, without some therapy or exercise, motion may not return to normal.

Treatment

Natural therapies for frozen shoulder include specific exercise, acupressure, acupuncture, massage, and the application of essential oils such as jasmine, lavender, peppermint, and rose. Before starting an exercise program or therapy, consult your health-care practitioner.

Prevention is always the best medicine. Whenever possible, ensure that you move all your joints regularly through their full range of motion. Mild stretching before any physical activity will strengthen the muscles.

Supplement Suggestions

  • Glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate - reduces pain, swelling, and stiffness
  • Fish oil - reduces inflammation, stiffness, and the need for painkillers
  • Powdered ginger - reduces inflammation and muscle spasms
  • Borage seed oil - reduces pain and swelling
  • Devil's claw - reduces back pain and symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism
  • Stinging nettles and turmeric - may reduce pain, stiffness, and inflammation
  • Curcumin (used topically) - may reduce inflammation.

Source: herbalremedies.com

Stretching Helps

Two simple stretching exercises work to increase mobility in a frozen shoulder.

Exercise 1: Find a pole approximately 48-in (120-cm) long a broom handle will suffice. Lie on your back on the floor with body in straight line. Rest pole on thighs and grasp with hands shoulder width apart. Slowly raise pole to the point where it begins to feel uncomfortable. Hold 10 seconds; then slowly lower to starting position. Repeat slowly 10 times.

Normal range of motion in the shoulder allows the hands to touch the floor behind the head. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may be able to raise your arms only above the head at first. It may take several weeks to be able to lower the pole to the floor. With perseverance, it will happen.

Exercise 2: Stand 18 in (45 cm) from the frame of a door. Raise arm of frozen shoulder. Place hand on doorframe and lean towards it. You will feel a stretch down the arm to the shoulder. Hold 10 seconds, relax, and repeat 10 times.

Practise both exercises daily until full mobility is restored.

Source: Sonya Bass, CH

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