Can Massage Help With Frozen Shoulder?

Category: Health Posted: 08 Oct 2018

Posted: 08 Oct 2018

Man with frozen shoulder pain getting shoulder massage

As summer fades and colder weather starts knocking at our doorsteps, aches and pains often become more noticeable. Frozen shoulder is a condition that causes your shoulder to feel painful and stiff, stifling movement to a severe degree. It can last anything from a few months to several years. Massage therapy is often recommended as one of the best ways to alleviate pain and treat frozen shoulder in conjunction with gentle exercise. 

 

What Is A Frozen Shoulder? 


When the tissues that surround your shoulder joint shrink or thicken, flexibility is reduced and the area can begin to feel painful. At some stage, the reduction in mobility can become so severe that you cannot even lift your arm above your head. This condition is known as frozen shoulder.


The exact causes of frozen shoulder are not yet known. It is thought that extended periods of not moving the area, for example following an injury or operation, can be one reason. The thick scar tissue that forms following operative procedures can contribute to frozen shoulder. Diabetes is also thought to cause frozen shoulder although the exact reasons why are not yet known. 


The initial signs of getting frozen shoulder are that you begin to find reduced mobility in your shoulder joint and feel some pain as you rotate it. At a later stage, the pain itself may actually diminish but your whole shoulder will likely become even more stiff and difficult to manoeuvre.


Whilst frozen shoulder usually takes a year and even up to five years to recover, it is not a permanent condition. Appropriate exercise and massage or physiotherapy can help speed up recovery and improve flexibility again. Many people recover completely within 12 - 18 months. 

 

Massage & Physiotherapy 


In conjunction with exercise, complementary therapies such as massage and physiotherapy can help bring flexibility and movement back into your shoulder joint.


Massage therapy increases the rate of blood flow around your body. This means that oxygen and nutrients are brought to injured and recovering muscle tissue more effectively. Regular massage can also help reduce scar tissue.


Physio-style massage helps with flexibility through aided stretching exercises that gently release tension in the shoulder blade and surrounding muscles. Repeated and gentle manipulation of the shoulder joint and rotator cuff muscles over a course of treatments gradually reduces tightness and scarring, thus helping with the natural realignment of your muscles and joints. 


Deep tissue massage and trigger point therapy target specific knots to release tightness and provide pain relief in specific areas through the use of acupressure techniques. 


General relaxation massage is also very effective for treating general discomfort from body pain. When we suffer a chronic or long-term condition, it can also affect our mood and having a general relaxing full body massage can be very good for your and provide a level of comfort that takes your mind away from the focus point of the consistent pain.


Many of the techniques used in massage are especially helpful to sufferers of frozen shoulder because they provide a form of assisted exercise that the individual may not be able to perform themselves. It is often beneficial to have a trained therapist at your side as you try out some remedial exercises and positions on yourself too. 

 

Pain Relief


In the short-term, painkillers and inflammation reducers such as ibuprofen can provide almost immediate pain relief. Hot and cold ice packs can also provide comfort. Both of these are effective in the short-term but usually only provide relief for a few hours. These medications do not however help with mobility or longer term relief. 


For longer-term relief of the pain and lack of movement that frozen shoulder causes, it is important to consider a course of physiotherapy treatments with regular massage therapy, exercise and rest.