Saturday, July 24, 2010
Frozen shoulder is a stiffness and soreness that limits motion in your shoulder. Tissue that encapsulates the shoulder joint gets thick and constricts, resulting in reduced mobility, inflammation and pain.
In a previous post, "Fix Your Frozen Shoulder", we looked at exercise videos to help frozen shoulder.
Women experience frozen shoulder more than men do.
Probable causes and common contributing factors include diabetes, hyperthyroidism, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson's disease, clinical depression, immobilization associated with surgery, and injury.
It's akin to repetitive motion disorder, except that while repeating the same motion too many times could cause a shoulder to freeze up, it's more likely to develop when the shoulder remains motionless, or locked into a single position, for long periods of time. Frozen shoulder could occur due to spending large amounts of time, slumped over in a bad posture, on the computer, driving a truck, or peering into a telescope.
Pain can be managed with ice and heat. Cherry juice is known to have analgesic effects in some people. In some instances, even the common chocolate malted milkshake can help with this type of pain.
Some experts believe that inflammation is part of the healing process and should not be "attacked" with anti-inflammatory medicines. However, there do exist natural methods for calming the inflamed tissue, reducing the inflammation without completely interrupting its necessary work.
Here are some suggestions on natural remedies, herbal treatments, and foods that can help strengthen the connective tissue of your joints and muscles and assist a frozen shoulder to heal.
In Chinese herbal medicine, range of motion falls under the cold category. You might consider using a liver and kidney tonic that removes cold and dampness.
For pain relief, white willow bark, scullcap, hops, and valerian are recommended. You can take them in teas.
There are herbal pain ointments that may be useful in relieving the grinding aches and lightning stabs of pain associated with frozen shoulder. Deep slow contemplative breathing exercises can stabilize the energy flow and bring peacefulness to the shoulder.
Silica helps tissues retain moisture.
Herbs with high silica content can be beneficial for restoring elasticity to connective tissue. Horsetail tea and angelica (but not for diabetics, as it raises blood sugar levels) have provided help for sufferers.
Foods high in silica are alfalfa sprouts, beets, brown rice, bell peppers, soybeans, leafy green vegetables, root vegetables, cooked dried beans and peas, and whole grain breads and cereals.
To reduce inflammation, you can try turmeric (a major component of curry and yellow mustard), ginger, and bromelain (pineapple enzyme).
According to Dr. Andrew Weil in "Can herbs combat inflammation?":
To help your body reduce inflammation eliminate polyunsaturated vegetable oils, margarine, vegetable shortening, all partially hydrogenated oils and all foods that contain trans-fatty acids. Read food labels to check for the presence of these oils.
Instead, use extra-virgin olive oil as your main fat and increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in oily, cold-water fish, flaxseeds or oil, and walnuts.
Other natural substances that can be beneficial for frozen shoulder and conducive to joint and muscle health include chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate, ginger root extract, grape seed extract, alpha-lipoic acid, fish oils (EPA/DHA), quercetin, vitamins A, B2, B3, C, D3, E and folic acid, magnesium, zinc, selenium, manganese, boron, copper, and molybdenum.
In seeking expertise on frozen shoulders, I asked the opinion of a Twitter pal who works as a licensed therapist, Andrew Jecklin.
He tweeted me the following information:
The way I look at frozen shoulder is you have 4 choices:
1. Apply finger pressure to tender spots along ENTIRE shoulder girdle, including pecs, deltoids, teres, post/sup scaps etc.
2. Lightly contract 3-6 sec, then relax, & slightly stretch; repeat 3-6 x from new resting post. Repeat, changing angle.
3. Gently relax into stretch, & apply quick pressure to the stretching muscle, change the angle quick moving stretches
4. Gently stretch/move around while pressing with sustained finger pressure, digging & feeling around, slow movement/stretching
All of these address the entire shoulder girdle. Front, back, top, bottom, including anterior & post scapula as best you can.
That's my take on it anyway. If any of it is unclear, let me know. Good luck. Ha!
#2 -- it is often useful to contract against resistance, like a wall. When you press into it, you're contract, use wall to stretch.