Are frozen shoulder and carpal tunnel syndromes related? Can they heal naturally, without surgery?
Here's part of a question I received:
"I've both tendonitis AND/OR carpal tunnel along with Frozen shoulder, all stemming from a repetitive stress job related injury, slowly progressed into the Frozen shoulder.
It's been 6 mos now and it's all gotten better but get flare ups now on the forearms, and fingers sometimes tingle and lightly numb and top of thumbs get painful but worst right now is probably the Frozen Shoulder pain. Is this normal I've not healed yet although was on modified duty and now laid off a month?
I'm told the MRI and Nerve Conduction tests are NEGATIVE.
Will I heal from these?
The bone Dr. says my next option is shoulder manipulation (under Anesthesia), followed by more phys. ther. before and after."
Here's my response:
As I understand the procedure, while the patient is under anesthesia, the doctor forcefully moves the shoulder to break up adhesions or restrictions in the joint
and stretch the muscles and tendons (tendons are muscle attachments.)
This is no doubt an expensive procedure and may be covered by your insurance.
The other option is to find a neuromuscular massage therapist who can manually manipulate the muscles around the shoulder to cause them to relax.
There may be massage therapists with other training who can also do this work but I am most familiar with Paul St. John-trained NMT or neurosomatic massage therapists. This may only take a few sessions.
One of my clients who had his frozen shoulders treated both under anesthesia and manually said the manual treatment was the way to go. He said as soon as the manual (hands on/massage) treatment was done, the discomfort was gone as well as the symptoms. He said there was a period of discomfort during recovery from the medical procedure. There are NMT massage therapists who treat the muscles of the shoulder girdle, rotator cuff, neck muscles that cause hand and arm pain, arm and chest muscles.
Those muscles can all become 'too tight' and press on nerves (which causes symptoms) or develop trigger points (which cause pain in arms and hands.) Once those muscles are released (relaxed) your symptoms will go away and you can keep them that way with appropriate stretches and by using good working positions as much as possible.
I believe in my heart that you will heal.
Do everything you can to support your muscles: eat healthy, drink lots of water, take a vitamin-mineral supplement if you wish, and look for a therapist who practices the type of massage/manual therapy I mentioned above. You can also use heat on your upper chest, front of your arm (your whole arm if you feel like it,) and around your shoulder. I suggest cold packs on your neck. If heat makes you feel a little worse, that's a clue to switch to cold. Do little movements in all directions with your shoulders to help the muscles relax. Note: Frozen shoulders often do get better on their own within two years at the most.
Years and years ago, before I got into this field, I had a frozen shoulder. A physical therapist did physical manipulation (without benefit of warming with 'real' massage first.)
They did some ultrasound first, which was supposed to warm the area (I have serious doubts about that) and then the physical therapist forced the shoulder to stretch it while I was awake. It hurt so much that I got tears in my eyes but only during the procedure. It took several sessions since no one warmed or relaxed the muscles first. Now, I would always choose a skilled massage therapist who knows how to release those muscles as my treatment of choice.
Kathryn Merrow,The Pain Relief Coach