A Dose of Dr. E: Frozen Shoulder: How to “Let It Go”

Watch Dr. E get treatment for his frozen shoulder and see if he regrets saying, “No pain, No gain”!


Websites referenced in this video:

Epidemiology of Frozen Shoulder

Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis): Signs, Diagnosis & Treatment

About PRN Physical Therapy:

PRNPT has 130 clinics in 11 states. You can visit their main website here.

For San Diego PRNPT clinics, click here.

To reach Reece, visit PRN Encinitas or email him at:  rjensent@prnpt.com

Reece C. Jensen DPT, OCS,    Owner/Director

Reece has been a physical therapist for 31 years and joined PRN at its inception in 1991. He graduated from Boston University with a Masters in PT in 1989 and returned in 2005 to complete his Doctor of Physical Therapy program. He has been certified as an Orthopedic Specialist by the APTA since 1996 and has a diverse and detailed knowledge of outpatient orthopedics. As a partner in his physical therapy clinic with PRN, Reece sees a full patient load while directing his staff of 8 and has an outstanding reputation for quality and excellent outcomes in the North County San Diego area. He holds black belts in both Kenpo Karate and Aikido and is certified to teach Yang & Chen style Tai Chi for both enjoyment and rehabilitation. Reece loves to spend time with his wife and three children doing a variety of outdoor activities in and around San Diego.

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    Got to the stage where plugging in the microwave, opening the blinds, fastening the seatbelt were painful. Took a lot of PT, but it sure was a wise investment of time.

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    I have a “freezing” shoulder – i.e. both shoulders have been getting painful and range of motion is deceasing for the past couple of years. I use TRX and other stretches to stretch them out, which hurts tremendously while it’s happening but after seems to help. Is there any danger in doing that kind of stretching?

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      Make sure at some point you have a medical evaluation to look at your blood work to rule out other rheumatological possible causes for your bilateral restriction. Frozen Shoulder Syndrome usually comes on more quickly (several weeks, not several years) and is 98% of the time unilateral or one sided. TRX bands are a great way to get body weight exercise and stretching. If it feels good afterwards, you are not likely doing damage, but if things start to be more and more painful, I would have an MD or PT evaluate your condition to rule out other possible causes.

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    I had this a number of years ago. T1 now for 30 years, female. First thought I slept wrong. Rest and heat/ice didn’t cure. I self diagnosed and subsequently cured myself by literally forcing the shoulder thru range of motion until it regained equality with other shoulder. Helpful were yoga moves, leaning against a wall using your own weight. I’m not much for ibuprofen or acetaminophen – both upset my stomach. The motion and tolerating some pain are the main elements. My opinion – you don’t need a gym or machines although if you have access to those or a trainer too, sure.

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      I agree that expensive equipment is not necessarily needed. More important is consistent and adequate stretching. Good for you toughing it out to get the ROM! Some people have a low pain threshold and won’t push themselves into painful territory. So having meds available (if appropriate) and a therapist to do the hands on joint mobilization and painful PROM can the deciding factors as to long long it takes to get through the frozen stage!

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        Yes I do believe in self help as a first recourse. To back up a bit, a key here is recognizing something non routine is going on, and being proactive about it. It’s too bad that an average person not only has difficulty obtaining specialist care, we have other barriers. Not enough knowledge to know who can help. Not enough persistence to advocate for yourself. I’ve spent years urging people to seek out endocrinologists and diabetes educators, for example.

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    These are same as my PT uses. And more exercises too. I don’t have frozen shoulder, but was heading that way, so I started PT early. PLEASE start as soon as you can. Your shoulder will appreciate it. I also have some minor, irreparable tears of tendons (not rotator cuff), so I’ll be doing these exercises at home daily for the rest of my life.

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      Good idea to start early, Barbara! Way to be proactive, and hope your shoulder improves! 🙂

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    Yep, had a frozen shoulder last year after tripping and bumping my shoulder. Very painful and p/t was a blessing.

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    Why didn’t you mention the surgical option?

    • Surgery is rarely needed, and we did not want the video to be too long. We also wanted to highlight what physical therapy can do to help. Thanks for the comment.

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    I had the “closed manipulation” surgery in 1994 (age 32/22 years T1D duration) and have since re-installed my shoulder pulleys at each new address. I have excellent range of motion and worked hard (with a lot of helpful P.T.s) to get there.

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    What are your thoughts about a frozen shoulder caused by fracturing the head of the humerus into 4 pieces and tearing the rotator cuff. Are some people able to regain full range of motion after something like this? My surgeon advised me that I could never improve from the state I was in post surgery and was delighted when I was able to lift my arm to 90 degrees after 3 months.

    • The fracture and RTC injury obvious necessitated prolonged immobilization post op. There is a period (6 – 12 weeks) where you cannot vigorously mobilize or manipulate the shoulder for fear of damaging the RTC repair or the healing fracture. Once those are stable, and the surgeon gives the ok, a therapist can try and improve the joint mobility and regain ROM and function. There may always be some limitation in that shoulder compared to the other side, but it really has to do with the individual, their therapist and how things progress. With other trauma to the shoulder joint, it is harder to predict the outcome, but I wouldn’t settle for “that’s as good as it’s going to be” until you have given it a solid 3-6 months of post operative PT.

  9. Frozen shoulder is bothering these days as people repent later for not exercising. Thank you for the helpful video and explanation.

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    Such a fabulous video! I’ve had both shoulders frozen and I learned more from you and anyone else. Thanks!

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    Thank you, this was very helpful, I was just diagnosed with Frozen shoulder, 3 weeks ago, being a type 2 under control, and had a fractured humerus 9 months ago. I just got my 2nd steroid shot yesterday, I Been doing the same excercises that your doing Dr E. You and your PT explain alot more than my Ortho did. 🙂

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