Your shoulder provides strength, flexibility and a wide range of motion that allows such everyday tasks as lifting, reaching, pulling, and pushing. It is one of the largest joints in the body. It is also one of the most vulnerable sites for injury and damage due to its complex structure and the necessity for looseness within the area so that fluid motion can occur.

 

The Shoulder’s Physiology

The shoulder system is a network of ligament, cartilage, bones and tendons that provide support and strength to the central structures of the joint. The shoulder joint itself is formed by a ball-and-socket type connection between the upper arm bone (humerus), and the shoulder blade (scapula). The clavicle is the front skeletal component of the shoulder joint that attaches via smaller bones that project from the scapula.

This shoulder configuration is held in place with the support of:

  • the rotator cuff (muscles and tendons that allow strength and movement),
  • the bursa (a fluid filled sac that cushions the rotator cuff area) and
  • cartilage that provides a cup-like structure for the humerus to fit into the scapula.

 

Frozen Shoulder is a painful condition with staying power.  It begins gradually and can last up to 3 years before it heals fully.  

For some yet-to-be-discovered reason, frozen shoulder begins when the connective tissue around the shoulder joint thickens and tightens. It causes a dull ache in the shoulder area or muscles around the shoulder and upper arm and, as the tightness continues, the ache progresses to pain and stiffness and causes increasing restriction of movement.

Over time, scar tissue forms, which prevents the flow of lubricating (synovial) fluid to the area. The thicker the tissue gets, the more constricted and difficult movement becomes. It can be painful to do every day tasks such as shampoo your hair or even hug someone.

Frozen shoulder progresses through several stages over the course of two to three years before it subsides –

  • Freezing that progressively restricts motion;
  • Frozen where daily activities are impacted due to the inability to move the shoulder easily;
  • Thawing when the condition heals and normal mobility returns.

Causes of Frozen Shoulder are unknown but it seems to occur more frequently in those who are recovering from a stroke, who have had surgery such as mastectomy, and those who have diabetes, heart disease, thyroid disease or Parkinson’s.

 

How Massage Therapy Can Help

Besides the prescribed use of NSAIDs or possible corticosteroid injections to reduce pain and inflammation, massage therapy can help manage the symptoms.

Massage can help relax the muscles in the shoulder area which helps reduce inflammation.

Places where the joint’s flexibility and range of motion is restricted can be helped by Trigger Point massage targets the source of the pain and relaxes the tension as well as encourages improved flow of synovial fluid throughout the affected area.

Swedish massage helps bring much needed oxygen to the area and carry away toxins.  By improving circulation, the tissues in the area are nourished and the health of the joint is improved.

While you wait out the healing of Frozen Shoulder, massage can be a go-to choice to help maintain motion and reduce pain.

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