“Frozen shoulder” or adhesive capsulitis (the name you are most likely to hear a physician/surgeon use) is very common. In layman terms, this name simply describes a situation where there is a loss of the range of motion in the shoulder joint. This can result from:
the development of scar tissue within the joint
lack of use
Inactivity leads to shoulder problems
In all likelihood, you don’t throw a baseball, softball or football as much as you did in the past. Or, maybe you don’t work around the house hanging wallpaper, painting, doing carpentry or any of the things you used to do that required you to use your shoulder throughout it’s full range of motion.
Shoulder Surgery results in Frozen Shoulder
In my case, this condition was a byproduct of shoulder surgery. Following surgery, I was required to have my shoulder immobilized for an extended period of time. This lack of movement for a considerable amount of time, resulted in a diagnosis of “frozen shoulder”. My orthopedic surgeon recommended physical therapy.
At this point, my curiosity was stimulated. I wanted to know more about adhesive capsulitis, so I did some research. I found out that “frozen shoulder” is most prevalent in women who were middle-aged and older. This was very sobering to me since I thought that I was a fairly healthy man. My ego was crushed to find out that I had a condition that most commonly occurred in women.
Frozen Shoulder can affect Anyone
All jokes aside, “frozen shoulder” affects nearly everyone (man or woman) who has shoulder surgery because the joint must be immobilized and stabilized to reduce the chances of damaging your newly repaired shoulder.
The logical course of action to regain your range of motion involves your participation in a program of physical rehabilitation. This process of physical rehab can be long, tedious and painful - the variables being:
your willingness to work hard during your recovery/rehabilitation
the amount of time you invest in performing your exercises
your desire to regain the full use of your shoulder
your pain tolerance
There will be Shoulder Pain
Physical therapists are some of the nicest people you will ever meet, but they have a job to do. Regardless of what you may think, they take no pleasure in causing you pain and you will experience pain during the rehab process. But it is necessary and it is the only way for you to regain your range of motion. This is a small price to pay for a fully functioning shoulder. Be sure to thank your therapist.
My Ego Hurts almost as bad as my Shoulder
I suffered another blow to my ego when I started some basic flexion exercises. My physical therapist handed me a pink dumbbell. I thought to myself, “I am six feet tall and weigh two hundred and twenty pounds. I need a manly colored dumbbell.” My physical therapist explained to me that the pink dumbbell weighed only one pound and the “manly” colored dumbbells started at about seven or eight pounds.
So, I started with the pink one - I wasn’t even strong enough to lift it - especially laterally (out to the side). I had to work with the pink one for a long time. I couldn’t wait to advance to the purple one, which was right before the pastel green one.
I was always glad to finish my dumbbell exercises so that I could start on the pulleys. I was able to control this motion and provide a smooth, gentle stretch. This actually felt good.
After all the exercises were completed, I had to get on the physical therapist’s table and hope that they were in a good mood ( no family squabbles and no speeding tickets on the way to work - just happy). I wanted them as calm, relaxed and happy as possible. As I stated earlier, your PT’s job is to help you regain the mobility of your shoulder. This process involves them manipulating your joint in order to break up the scar tissue. There will be some discomfort involved.
Two Steps Forward and One Step Back
Most of the time, you will be given a prescription that allows you to see your physical therapist three times per week. Since there is only so much that can be done in only three visits per week and there is only so much discomfort that you can stand during each visit, the rehab process can be lengthy.
If you are in this predicament and are looking for a way to speed up the process, have your therapist go to www.therotater.com and check out the shoulder rehab device video. Ask you physical therapist if you could benefit from using the Rotater during your off days.
Physical rehabilitation can be a long process, but the rewards are worth it. The ability to use your shoulder as it was intended and to do the things that you want to do without limitations is priceless.