Does Inflammation cause Frozen Shoulder?

We all have had tight shoulders from time to time, but when your shoulder becomes painful and the movement is severely restricted, we have what is medically known as adhesive capsulitis, but more commonly known as Frozen Shoulder.

With Frozen Shoulder, it is common for the capsule and surrounding tissue to form fibrous scar tissue. With less lucubration from synovial fluid, movement generally becomes even more limited and painful.

Now there are number of theories why someone might develop Frozen Shoulder, such as genetics, age, bad luck (such as an accident), and some sports commonly tennis, cricket, golf and baseball.  What I was surprised to find is that Frozen Shoulder is very common in people who have Diabetes, Parkinson’s, Hypothyroidism, Chronic Hypoxia, and Dupuytren (the thickening of the tissues in the hand, causing the fingers to curl inwards.)

All symptoms seemed to have a common factor of chronic low-grade inflammation, but the two strongest established risk factors for developing Frozen Shoulder are Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome.  The hypothesis argues that like Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome, the inflammation and capsular fibrosis which is seen in Frozen Shoulder is precipitated by chronic low-grade inflammation, thus sympathetic dominance of autonomic balance, and neuro-immune activation which are out of balance.

In the book Inflammation Solution, Dr William Sears’s said, “Your body is not meant to experience a constant state of inflammation”. The term inflammation comes from the root word meaning ‘on fire’. “The root cause of inflammation is that your immune system is out of balance and confused”. Inflammation can be a good thing when your body is fighting infection, injury, or disease. If your body’s signals get crossed however, you can experience chronic, low-grade inflammations.

The next question then is what we do at ALTA when we have a client presenting with a Frozen Shoulder and what does this have to do with low grade inflammation? While we are not doctors or classified as allied health, we do know that what we do, as part of an overall healthy lifestyle plan. If we do not have a referral already, we will refer out. We have a large reference network of Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, Chiropractors, Doctors, Nutritionists, Exercise Physiologist, that we can rely on for advice.  Once we have a diagnosis for your particular case, we can then create a plan for you and your needs.

Here at ALTA, we like to look at movement from the ground up.  Meaning how well do your feet move in relation to your ankles, how well do your ankles move in relation to your knees, how well do your knees move in relation to your hips, etc.  In creating a plan of attack, we may use many forms of exercise to help you on your quest to free up your shoulder. Which could be a gentle Feldenkrais Method to Pilates to even a hefty deadlift exercise.  There is no single ‘one size fits all’ treatment for Frozen Shoulder.  What may work for you may not work for another. In some instances we may stay completely away from the affected shoulder and work on you as a whole i.e. creating a stronger base of support, improving posture and thoracic mobility which can often improve the effected shoulder. As with any chronic issue the healing takes time.