What Is a Frozen Shoulder?

Today, I’m going to go over some information with you in regards to chiropractic care for your shoulder.

There’s a condition of the shoulder called frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis. This is where the shoulder joint actually gets inflamed. It develops scar tissue and it develops a situation where you can’t move your arm, so they call it frozen shoulder.

Now the medical literature really talks about the shoulder joint being the only joint involved in frozen shoulder. But really, what I see in my office, it’s more of a frozen shoulder syndrome because it involves more than just the glenohumeral joint. That name comes from the humerus (the upper arm bone) and the glenoid, the cup-like part of the shoulder blade that the arm bone fits into. 

So, you get this adhesion and scar tissue and the result is adhesive capsulitis involving that joint.

Other Joints Are Soon Affected 

Now, when the shoulder gets frozen, there are other joints that get affected by it. For example: 

  1. You get the joint called the sternoclavicular joint where the clavicle (collarbone) meets the sternum (breastbone). That will get inflamed and sore. 
  2. You get the acromioclavicular joint (also known as the AC joint) out at the far end of the clavicle that gets inflamed and sore. That’s part of not being able to lift your arm up very high. 
  3. You get the subscapularis rib cage joint. That’s really not quite a joint, that’s the muscle of the subscapularis that attaches to the rib cage, allowing for some movement of the scapula or shoulder blade as it relates to the rib cage. 
  4. Also, for every two bits of motion that come from the humerus, you get one part of motion that comes from the scapula. So there’s a lot more range of motion in the arm bone itself than the scapula and the shoulder. So, that subscapularis rib cage joint also gets involved. 

Pinched Nerve Involvement

Probably the biggest part of a frozen shoulder is the pinched nerve in your neck which I think is probably the beginning stages of the problem in the first place. That’s going to be the case unless you’ve had a direct injury to the shoulder where you fall on an outstretched arm, jamming the shoulder up, or have some kind of other injury, such as an auto accident where you jammed the shoulder. 

There are many different types of injuries that could occur to the shoulder as a direct trauma. But you always want to look at the neck.

Many times when patients come in with a frozen shoulder, they’ve got a lot of tension and tenderness in the neck. The shoulder is involved so much that they don’t even know that the neck is part of the whole process, which leads to the problem in the shoulder.

This pinched nerve could occur in the mid to lower neck at the cervical vertebrae #5 or #6. 

Help Someone You Know Find Relief

If you know somebody—or maybe you, yourself— who has a frozen shoulder problem, have them contact me. We sure can help with this problem. 

It’s easy to recognize somebody that’s got a frozen shoulder because they can’t lift their arm very well. Many times they’ll tell you that they have a lot of pain in the shoulder. Send them the link to our video; tell them about us.

I look forward to seeing you in our office where I can help you or a friend with a frozen shoulder.

By Dustan Mattingly, June 9, 2021