Recently someone very close to me injured her shoulder. At first, it seemed like it was a pretty mild injury – her arm was outstretched and she tripped, not even landing on the shoulder. However, she’s peri-menopausal, which means that fluctuations in hormones can make a woman more susceptible to injuring her joints, and possibly injuring them more severely. The other problem with shoulder injuries in peri-menopausal and menopausal women is that they can easily lead to a condition called “frozen shoulder” which is also known by the medical term, adhesive capsulitis.
What does it look like to have a frozen shoulder? Pretty much what you might imagine, that the usually mobile shoulder joint is in lock down, and where often reaching backwards, as if to throw a ball, becomes painful and impossible. Range of motion may be limited in other shoulder and arm movements as well. And the more you don’t move your shoulder, the harder it becomes to move the shoulder, which marks the cascade of problems associated with this condition.
No one should ignore or avoid treatment for any injury, in my opinion, but it is especially imperative for women aged 40-60 to not ignore a shoulder injury, even one they might chalk up to being minor. Our shoulders are normally very very flexible – this joint can move in many directions, especially when you contrast it to a joint like your hip, which moves in a much more limited range. The mobility of the shoulder is exactly why it becoming frozen is so difficult – we use our shoulder in so many ways, to put on clothes, to brush our hair, to wash our hair/bodies, to pull something toward us, which the frozen condition affects.
What to do if you injure your shoulder:
- Acutely (first 24 hours), use ice directly on the injury.
- After 24 hours, use ice and heat, alternatively.
- Contact me for an appointment – we will work distally at first (away from the acute site of injury) with needles, and will likely do cupping on the injured area.
- Apply topical pain relief – such as Tiger balm, or another topical pain patch, such as Pain Terminator.
- Seek adjunctive care, such as PT, or massage. Specifically PT with an Ultrasound machine to help break up the accumulating scar tissue at the site of injury.
Prevention is really also quite important – and important to exercise your body, strengthen your joints, with gentle exercises like swimming and pilates. My favorite pilates studio in Chicago is Pilates Chicago, at 6101 Clark street. They are incredibly well trained instructors and work with all body types.
Acupuncture treatment over the weeks following the injury will prevent frozen shoulder from setting in, focusing on increasing mobility, reducing pain, and healing tissue. We use a variety of treatments, including cupping and gua sha, as well as chinese herbs and supplements to reduce inflammation and increase healing.
If you are suffering with a shoulder injury, or have frozen shoulder, come in for treatment. Let us help you get back into a pain free, active life.