Featherston Street Pain Clinic

Frozen Shoulder Treatment Specialists

Why We Treat Frozen Shoulder

Finding you can’t perform normal day-to-day activities without the use of one of your arms is annoying at best, and seriously life-limiting at worst. The ability to move and just ‘be’ comfortably forms a big part of our most basic sense of wellbeing. In addition, the ability to function fully is essential to us thriving and providing for ourselves and our families. 

Frozen shoulders make up a small proportion of all shoulder pains; but they are far more resistant to treatment than the majority of shoulder pains. Frozen shoulder is a condition that tends to give otherwise healthy active people a bitter taste of what it’s like to have a real disability.

We take frozen shoulder very seriously, and our decisive approach to its treatment reflects that. It takes a fair amount of effort and persistence to fully heal the majority of frozen shoulders.  Luckily most frozen shoulder sufferers find themselves to be highly motivated due to the levels of frustration it causes them.

We take frozen shoulder very seriously, and our decisive approach to its treatment reflects that. It takes a fair amount of effort and persistence to fully heal the majority of frozen shoulders.  Luckily most frozen shoulder sufferers find themselves to be highly motivated due to the levels of frustration it causes them.

How We Treat Shoulder Pain

Outside of the old-fashioned medical approach to frozen shoulder, there are now advanced treatments that can dramatically speed up your recovery. The key is having access to the right clinicians and the right treatment tools.

Our frozen shoulder protocols utilise some of the most advanced pain management technologies available anywhere. Our vision for the frozen shoulder care we provide is pretty simple  ‘’All the stuff that actually works and none of the stuff that doesn’t – under one roof’’’.

The main tools in our ‘frozen shoulder treatment arsenal’ are Focused Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy – Radial Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy – HPL Laser Therapy – LLLT Laser Therapy. What this amounts to is the use of intense sound waves to break up joint capsule adhesions, and deeply penetrating laser light to boost ‘blood flow’.

In certain cases, we also use a light based therapy known as ‘brainwave entrainment’ to reduce stress and pain responses in the brain’s limbic system. Modern research has established firm connections between chronic stress and chronic complaints like frozen shoulder. This means that inevitably a percentage of frozen shoulder sufferers sneed to reduce their stress levels if they want a speedy recovery.

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What Causes Frozen Shoulder

Most cases of frozen shoulder are caused by a combination of sedentary work, postural changes, and elevated stress levels. For reasons that research has yet to explain this combination of factors are present in virtually every case of frozen shoulder that turns up in clinics.

Postural Issues

Postural changes tend to cause pressure and impinging within the shoulder jointed rotator cuff tendons. This type of impingement plays a part in the vast majority of shoulder pains, and frozen shoulder is no exception. The strain of postural change can cause reactive stiffening of the shoulder capsule.

Sedentary Work

Sedentary work tends to cause chronic fibrous changes in the shoulders’ soft tissues. When we lose the ability to sit up straight comfortably this is what we are experiencing. The capsule adhesions within most frozen shoulders are likely to be a reactive and accelerated form of these common changes.

Stressy Lifestyle

Stress in humans has a strong tendency to manifest as tension around the neck and shoulders. Many of us hold more tension around these areas than we realise in daily life. The persistent tissue strain this causes has a major part to play in the development of many frozen shoulder cases.

A frozen shoulder is not a happy shoulder. It is a shoulder that has ‘reactively adapted ‘ to some form (or forms) of stress; by tightening up in the most extreme way imaginable.

If you are grossly overweight and not exercising it is generally caused by your stress (past and present) and your current lifestyle choices.  Believe it or not the same is true of conditions like frozen shoulder. Most frozen shoulders are caused by aspects of lifestyle. In many cases, they are ‘reactions’ to the fact that you are somehow living out of balance. 

Our bodies were not designed to sit at screens for countless hours, they were designed for the amount of movement it takes to survive in the big outdoors. Our shoulders have not adapted to the amount of sitting we do, which predisposes them to problems from the get-go. Excess sitting eventually causes muscle wasting in the upper back, this too can contribute to the development of frozen shoulder.

Our bodies were not designed for persistent forms of stress, they were designed for transient stressors like being chased by a predator. Our bodies have not adapted to the chronic tissue tension that comes from working and living in persistently stressful conditions; the tissues of our shoulders often ‘bear the brunt’ during periods of chronic stress. We hold tension in our shoulders when we are stressed, tension that can feel like ‘the weight of the world”. 

Genetics plays a role in all health complaints. Some of us were born more resilient to the stresses and strains life inflicts on our shoulders than others and a big part of that is genetic variance. The good news is that you had the same set of genes now that you did before your shoulder froze on you. This means that with the right treatment, care, and lifestyle adjustments those ‘frozen shoulder genes’ will switch themselves off and life will be fun again.

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Our 3 Step Treatment Process

Finding relief from stubborn frozen shoulder pain can be surprisingly straight forward. Yet in other instances a highly systematic and persistent approach may be required. The joint adhesions that cause most shoulders to freeze are usually the outcome of chronic stress and postural issues. Effective treatment starts with understanding these basic principles.

We specialise in providing flexible ‘multidisciplinary’ relief from frozen shoulder symptoms. Our frozen shoulder treatment protocols are based on cutting edge technology and proven rehabilitation principles.

We specialise in providing flexible ‘multidisciplinary’ relief from frozen shoulder symptoms. Our frozen shoulder treatment protocols are based on cutting edge technology and proven rehabilitation principles.

Step One

Find The Cause
(In Depth History And Exam)

Step Two

Treatment For Pain & Stiffness
(Shockwave & Laser Therapy)

Step Three

Rehabilitation And Prevention (Improve Posture & Reduce Stress)

Frozen Shoulder Treatments And Technologies

There are many different ways to treat shoulder pain, and it’s just as well because we don’t all respond to the same stuff. 

The ultimate key to successful treatment of shoulder pain is working with a team who are willing to take a sufficiently flexible approach, and trial a number of different therapies to see what works best on your specific case.

Laser Therapy involves the application of deeply penetrating light waves to a stiff and painful shoulder. Light with a wavelength in the red to near infrared region of the spectrum (660nm–905nm) is generally employed because these wavelengths have the ability to penetrate skin, and soft/hard tissues.

 A great many clinical trials have shown this treatment has a positive effect on pain, inflammation and even tissue repair. In our experience people with frozen shoulder often experience immediate improvements in their pain after laser sessions. 

Shockwave Therapy is a non-surgical – non-drug-based – scientifically approved therapy that is widely used as a pain treatment. There have been literally hundreds of studies that support the use of shockwave therapy for a very wide range of pain complaints.

Shockwave Therapy was originally developed for its application as a non-invasive treatment of kidney stones. We use a gentler form of the same technology to break up joint capsule adhesions. For more information on shockwave therapy visit our shockwave homepage here.

It should go without saying that we have a tendency to hold tension in our shoulders. This kind of tension Is a major contributor to many cases of shoulder pain. By using specific stretch techniques for the muscles in the shoulder you can often release a great deal of tension from the shoulder and shoulders. Post Isometric stretches are a specific style of stretching that utilises your muscle’s tendency to relax after it has contracted strongly.

Most shoulders with persistent or recurring pain are full of ‘pressure points’ or myofascial trigger points (the sore spots you feel in muscles when you get a deep massage). At Featherston St. Pain Clinic we consider ourselves experts at finding and releasing the most stubborn trigger points. It’s not always fun to have done (we know that ourselves) but boy can it help with persistent shoulder pain; when it’s done properly!

Acupuncture can be extremely helpful in the management of many shoulder pain cases. We don’t approach acupuncture in the traditional way where needles are placed in a wide no. of locations, we generally focus directly on the area of pain.

Acupuncture aims to promote blood flow, release pressure points in muscle and reduce pain signals. Needles are placed very superficially around the area of pain and we generally leave them in for around 10 minutes, depending on your body’s tolerance to them. If acupuncture works for your shoulder pain, you will usually start to feel the benefits within the first 2-3 sessions.

Cupping massage or cupping therapy has been used for thousands of years by multiple global cultures. Not only is cupping still around for good reason, it is currently undergoing a powerful resurgence. 

Using suction cups for the treatment for frozen shoulder increases blood flow in the area, stretches the fascia, can bring massive amounts of relief and leaves funny marks that your friends and family will assume are bruises. The most common myth around cupping is that it releases toxins, the actual cause of the marks cupping leaves is deoxygenated blood that has been drawn to the surface.

Prevention of shoulder pain usually means longer term strengthening of the muscles that maintain your posture. 

Time is seldom kind to the stubborn and recurring pains that affect us throughout life. The stubborn shoulder problems we have in our thirties and forties often becomes the unrelenting pain that destroys our basic quality of life in our seventies and eighties. We take the potential longer term repercussions of unrehabilitated pain conditions seriously. Prevention is not for everyone… but we believe in it passionately and it’s a major part of our offering.

Research That Supports Our Frozen Shoulder Treatment Protocols

Laser Therapy in Adhesive Capsulitis
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Short-term effects of high-intensity laser therapy
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Efficacy Of High-Intensity Laser Therapy
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Efficacy Of Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy In Frozen Shoulder
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Efficacy Of Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy
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A Prospective, Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Clinical Study
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Effectiveness of Shock Wave Therapy versus Intra-Articular Corticosteroid Injection
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Extracorporeal shockwave therapy improves short-term functional outcomes of shoulder adhesive capsulitis
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Analgesic Effect of Extracorporeal Shock Wave Treatment
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Effectiveness Of Extracorporeal Shock-Wave Therapy For Frozen Shoulder
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Our 5 Frozen Shoulder Treatment Fundamentals

Hands On Treatments

We are in the business of helping you get out of pain. The beating heart of our clinical process is a committed and very hands on approach to getting you moving comfortably as quickly, painlessly and safely as possible. We are willing to use a wide range of tools and also to work tirelessly in our efforts to get you out of pain.

Flexible Treatment Approach

Even among professionals there is little agreement on the best ways to treat pain. If there is one thing that we know for certain about pain management though, it’s that a flexible multidisciplinary treatment approach to shoulder problems is best. This is why we take such great care to provide the most diverse range of treatment tools possible under one roof.

Get To The Bottom Of It

The human body seldom if ever generates pain and stiffness for no reason. Pain is a highly organised and intelligent form of feedback that we have evolved over millions of years. In other words, if you have pain and stiffness in your shoulder it will be for a good reason. We always strive to find the deepest possible explanation for your pain so that you have the best possible chance of preventing it in the longer term.

Excellent Communication

Unlike a one-off filling at the dentist, successfully relieving most frozen shoulders is a process. A process that often requires commitment, trust and clear communication. We believe that clear and open communication combined with genuine rapport are fundamental pain management tools.

Assume Nothing 

Just because a treatment has worked for us a thousand times before; doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to work on you! Pain management is not a ‘1 size fits all’ moment in life. We monitor our patients’ response to treatment very closely. This approach enables us to make agile treatment protocols that can be altered in real time; should we find that you aren’t responding to the tools and techniques that we expected to work for you.

Shoulder Pain FAQs

Generally speaking frozen shoulders last from 1-3 years before settling of their own accord. A small percentage can leave even longer term residual stiffness. If you have frozen shoulder you will know already that 1-3 years feels like a pretty grim sentence. 

The good news that you may not hear from your overworked family doctor or your generic Google search is that there’s a huge amount of specialised work that can be done to speed up your recovery if you have access to the right clinicians and the right treatment tools.

Cortisone shots can bring some relief to a percentage of frozen shoulder sufferers. that is to say their effect is a fairly hit and miss affair. The best advice with regards to cortisone shots for frozen shoulder is however to try and avoid them at all costs. The sobering list of irreversible side effects includes…

Cartilage damage.

Death of nearby bone.

Joint infection.

Nerve damage.

Tendon rupture.

The logical way to navigate these treacherous waters is to explore ALL the safe forms for treatment before you consider risking cortisone shots.

The best treatments for shoulder pain are also some of the most modern pain treatments available. Unlike many shoulder complaints frozen shoulder doesn’t tend to respond particularly well to more traditional methods like acupuncture and hands on manipulation. The most useful non-invasive tools for treating frozen shoulder are Focused Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy – Radial Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy – HPL Laser Therapy – LLLT Laser Therapy. In other words,  we use intense sound waves to break up joint capsule adhesions, and deeply penetrating laser light to boost ‘blood flow’. 

Keeping mobile is vital to recovery from frozen shoulder. Yet it is wise to refrain from moving your shoulder in pulling, jerky, and jarring motions. These type of movements are highly likely to cause irritation within the stiffened  joint capsule of the shoulder and can make the recovery process more painful than it needs to be.
 
The best advise we can give you is to be patient and kind with your shoulder while it is recovering, and trust that it will get better; given the right amount of time, nurturing and care.
Many frozen shoulder sufferers do have more than once episode of frozen shoulder in their lifetime.
 
It rarely occurs in the same shoulder. More often frozen shoulder develops in the opposite shoulder. The tendency towards relapse is not random, it is usually caused by improper rehabilitation and high stress levels.

It will be a long time before research fully unpacks the inner physical mechanisms behind frozen shoulder. Meanwhile the basic facts are that poor posture, sedentary work, psychological stress and genetics all play key roles in causing frozen shoulder. The good news is that despite there being many unanswered questions about frozen shoulder it remains very treatable as long as you have the right tools, the right help and the right mindset.

Many painful conditions including frozen shoulders worsen overnight, but it’s not necessarily your mattresses fault. There are numerous nocturnal factors that can aggravate a frozen shoulder. The tissues of your shoulder become much colder and stiffer at night due to the lack of movement. Lying down can put more pressure on the joint than being upright. At night there are fewer distraction from pain which can lead to increased pain perception. Bad mattresses don’t help either, but its advisable not to rush into replacing a good mattress until you have had some treatment on your frozen shoulder first 
It is one of life’s great ironies that frozen shoulders tend to respond better to ice than heat. Try an ice pack or packet of peas for 20 mins several times a day (before bed can be good). Do not apply ice directly to the skin, but wrap in a towel or tea towel.

Get In Touch

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