Be Sure To Look At the Whole Picture When Treating Frozen Shoulder

Shoulder Discomfort
Chiropractic Care for Frozen Shoulder

In my 35 years of chiropractic practice I have helped many patients who have a condition called, frozen shoulder. It is one of the most painful conditions a person can experience. It also restricts the person’s ability to comfortably use their shoulder which greatly impacts their quality of life. This article will detail what a frozen shoulder is exactly, recent research about the condition and how it can be helped by looking at the whole picture.

A frozen shoulder is described as a painful restriction of the shoulder’s range of motion. It is also called adhesive capsulitis (AC). The term adhesive capsulitis is a medical description of what happens when the shoulder joint is injured. There is a tough sheath of tissue surrounding the bones that make up the joint of the shoulder that is called the capsule. If the shoulder is sufficiently injured the capsule can become inflamed and we call that capsulitis. People with capsulitis of the shoulder tend to restrict their movements and use the shoulder less. This can result in adhesions developing in the shoulder joint which causes a mechanical reduction of the ability to move the shoulder normally. These adhesions of the shoulder capsule give us the name: adhesive capsulitis. The more general, common, nonmedical name given is frozen shoulder.

A research study in the Journal of Musculoskeletal and Neuronal Interactions, September 2019 notes that about 3% of adults develop the condition in their lifetime. In this study researchers observed that mobilization and stretching of the bones and tissues of the shoulder are effective for improving the ranges of motion in the shoulder joints of patients with AC.

As a chiropractor, I am trained to look not only at the shoulder but also the whole picture including other areas that may be associated. I certainly use techniques like mobilization and stretching for the shoulder itself. Also, a large bone of the shoulder girdle called the scapula must be examined for restrictions. If restrictions exist, the scapula must also be stretched and mobilized. Additionally, bones of the patient’s neck or cervical spine may have misalignments and/or be moving improperly. This can irritate the joints and nerves of the neck which can cause the muscles of the shoulder girdle to become tightened and be in spasm. If this is the case, chiropractic adjustments can help to correct misalignments and improper movement of the cervical spine to relax the musculature.

Anti-inflammatory medications and steroid injections are sometimes utilized to treat a frozen shoulder. However, it is important for a healthcare provider to evaluate all the areas associated with frozen shoulder to fully correct the problem. By looking at the entire picture of AC most patients can achieve pain free, fully functional, restoration of their very painful, restrictive condition of frozen shoulder/adhesive capsulitis.

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A Morning Routine To Avoid Lower Back Pain

Align Yourself With Health
Avoid Lower Back Pain

In a previous article, You May Be A Morning Person But Your Back Is Not, I mentioned that the lower back is vulnerable in the morning after arising. Having been a chiropractor for over 35 years I suggested starting slowly the first hour of the day and letting the back warm-up before engaging in rigorous activity. My experience has shown that patients who follow this idea are less likely to hurt their back.

With this article we will go into more detail with specific steps one can take in the morning to help the back, rather than worsen a back complaint.

We can start protecting our back as soon as we awaken. When we get out of the bed, we usually perform some version of a sit up. Sit ups in the morning increase the pressure on disks of the back thus increasing the chance of injuring the back. A better way to get up is to perform a “side up.” A side up is performed by turning onto one side or the other and swinging the legs over the side of the bed as we raise our self up with our arms.

Next, we can perform some safe, gentle stretching exercises in the morning. An exercise as simple as lying on our back and gently pulling each knee up towards the chest for five seconds, for five repetitions can be effective in warming up the back. Gentle yoga type stretching is another helpful method to get the back ready for the stresses of the day.

Once we are up and about getting ourselves ready and presentable for the day it is wise to start slowly with our activities. Don’t do repetitive bending at the waist or lifting and carrying heavy items at the beginning of the day. For instance, years ago, I learned the hard way that carrying a heavy suitcase to my car in the morning, for an early plane flight is not a good idea. I strained my back by doing this and had a difficult flight and the first few days of my trip. Now, I carry my suitcase down to the car the night before a trip, when my back is good and warmed up.

Likewise performing chores like vacuuming, gardening or grass cutting, or morning exercise classes like Zumba are best put off until later in the morning or the day. Try to perform gentler, easier tasks earlier in the day.

These several ideas, if followed over time, are great simple ideas to avoid lower back pain.

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You May Be A Morning Person But Your Back Is Not!

Back Pain
Back Pain

Many people are early risers who find they are most energetic and can get much accomplished soon after they awaken in the morning. However, many of these same people have problems with their lower back that plagues them. This article will discuss some simple ideas to avoid back conditions, especially for “morning people.”

Back issues are common, possibly epidemic in the United States. Studies show that 80% of the population will have a significant back pain problem before the age of 40. Some of these back pain episodes are a one time thing when the back “goes out.” Others suffer from chronic ongoing back discomfort. The common denominator is that back discomfort causes quality of life to suffer.

Based on scientific research and my 35 years of chiropractic practice I have found that almost all back complaint suffers can benefit by starting slowly in the morning.

The low back is especially vulnerable in the morning. Consider, we have been inactive and sedentary throughout the night while we’re sleeping. Our entire body has been still and without much movement. It is definitely not warmed up upon awakening. However, morning people and almost anyone who’s had a really good night’s sleep may be mentally rested and raring to get going with many of their daily activities.

The problem arises when the mind is willing, but the body is not. Let’s introduce an idea where we are going to let the body warm up so that we are capable of performing physical activity without suffering deleterious effects.

I’m sure we’ve all noted that our four-legged friends, dogs and cats always stretch after they’ve been laying down for a while. Instinctively, they know it’s best to warm the body up before activity. We also know that professional athletes would never think of practicing or engaging in a competitive sport without a proper warm-up. We should follow these examples.

Most people will find that if they start slowly the first hour after arising the back will gradually warm up and be less likely to cause problems the rest of the day. Conversely, if a person irritates the back early in the day it is much more likely to persist all day long.

My advice to morning people is to schedule less strenuous activities early in the morning until the back is warmed up. Later, after being up for a couple of hours the back will be much more receptive rigorous chores.

I have many testimonials from patients who once suffered from chronic lower back pain and now swear that giving their back a chance to warm up has drastically minimized the back discomfort that they previously experienced.

It is possible for morning people and their lower back to peacefully coexist if they will only start slowly in the morning!

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I Am Afraid My Back Will Go Out

Lower Back Pain
Lower Back Pain

“If I do almost anything, I’m afraid my back will go out”. This is the statement I heard the first time I met with Michael. It is also a statement I’ve heard many times in my 34 years of chiropractic practice. Michael was a 30-year-old married patient with two young children. In the past year he’d had five times when, playing with his kids or doing yard work, his lower back would suddenly seize up, causing extreme pain and terribly incapacitating him for the next two weeks. He had been to his PCP, orthopedic specialists and physical therapists but his back episodes were still occurring.

Fortunately, he was referred for chiropractic care by another older patient who had experienced the same problem many decades earlier and had been helped by chiropractic therapy. After performing an examination and x-rays of his lower back we were able to find that his problem was purely mechanical. He had significant misalignments and improper movement of the joints of his lower spinal and pelvic bones.

He agreed to a plan of care that led to getting relief of his lower back pain and strengthening so that he could engage in normal physical activity of someone his age. As we worked through a four-week process of chiropractic manipulations to correct misalignments and improper movement, electrical muscle stimulation and ice pack applications to relax the muscles and reduce inflammation he started to notice significantly less back pain. As he performed a simple morning exercise routine of stretching and strengthening he was able to take on more strenuous physical activities without fear of his “back going out.”

Once his spinal vertebrae and pelvis were aligned and moving properly and his exercise routine strengthened his back he came back occasionally to keep it that way. He called these visits his “chiropractic tune-up.”

Six months later he came back with wonderfully good news. He had spent a weekend using a jackhammer to break up his old asphalt driveway and wheelbarrowed away the debris in preparation for a company to come in and put in a whole new driveway. He said that he had a little muscular soreness but was able to complete the job without any major repercussions.

Chiropractic care been shown, scientifically, to be the best way to manage the majority of conditions related to pain of the back. In fact, studies show that almost 60% of those taking opioids do it for neck or lower back problems. If these spinal pain sufferers first tried utilizing chiropractic care, we can assuredly assume that we wouldn’t have opioid crisis we’re currently experiencing.

If one has pain or disability from a spinal condition it is highly recommended they seek chiropractic care immediately. The difference between relief or pain, normal function or disability. It might even be the difference between opioid addiction or freedom from dependency.

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