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What is a Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen Shoulder

24 DEC 2019






1 What Are These Possible Causes?

2 Who Are Prone To Get It?

3 Physical Exercises and Therapy

4 Recovery

5 How can we help you at SIN KANG TCM CLINIC?


Frozen shoulder in Chinese is (jianzhouyan) 肩周炎. Your western medical doctor might call it “Adhesive Capsulitis” which but commonly we simply refer to it as “Frozen Shoulder(s)”.  Your shoulders feels pain and stiffness and seem to be “frozen” in one position. It may take as much as a few years to completely get better, but it can improve much faster if you were to go for physical therapy to help with the recovery.


What is the main cause of frozen shoulder?

Doctors up-to-date still do not really know exactly what causes the Shoulders to be “Frozen”, but they attribute that some things may make a person more susceptible to getting Frozen Shoulders.  Some of these possible causes are attributed to:


1) It can happen if you can’t move your shoulder very well because of an injury An Accident, Surgery or Trauma;
2) People who perform repetitive actions day after day, such as those in the vocations like a Hairstylist, Musician, etc.
3) People who have Diabetes, Arthritis, Gout, etc. becomes more susceptible to developing Frozen Shoulders.
4) People with Thyroid Problems, Parkinson’s Disease, Heart Disease, which can worsen the symptoms and makes the Frozen Shoulders last longer. Certain HIV medications also seem to raise your odds of getting Frozen Shoulders.



There are Strong Connective Tissues called the “Shoulder Capsule” that surrounds the ball end of your Upper Arm Bone and holds it to the socket. “Frozen Shoulder” causes this Connective Tissue to get thicker and “hardens” in parts (Adhesions) and becomes “inflamed”. This may then limit the “Synovial Fluid” that normally “Lubricates” the area and prevents rubbing to occur. The result is ‘Pain’ and ‘Stiffness’.


What does frozen shoulder mean in Chinese medicine?

It’s known as ‘shoulder at the age of 50 years’ in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The term “frozen shoulder” refers to a restriction of shoulder motion that is not caused by abnormalities of the joint surface, fracture, or dislocation.

There are THREE Stages in “Frozen Shoulder”:


Stage 1: Freezing (Painful) Stage

Over a period of 2 months to 12 months, the Shoulder Capsule starts to get more and more ‘inflamed’. This starts to ramps up the Pain and eventually the Stiffness.  The range of motion slowly becomes more and more restrictive as the months pass (you start to get more and more difficult to use the Shoulder Joint). And these symptoms often get worse at night when you try to sleep.


Stage 2: Frozen Stage

This is the Stage when your shoulder is at its stiffest and hardest to move.  Your motion is completely restricted. It usually lasts somewhere between 4 months to a year. Pain often starts to increase in this stage. But your Range of Motion may be so limited that you find it hard to do even the most basic things like eat, dress, and go to the bathroom.


Stage 3: Thawing Stage

Once you enter this Stage, your shoulder pain should continue to ease a little during this stage, and now you start to regain some of your Range of Motion bit by bit too. It happens very slowly, taking anything from 6 months up to 2 years. In some cases, you may get back all or almost all of your strength and mobility.


Who Are Prone To Get Frozen Shoulder?


Frozen Shoulders are usually most common if you’re in your 50s or 60s, and it’s quite rare for anyone under 40 to get it in the past. But these days more and more younger patients are getting it as well due to the changing lifestyle and diet.  Women tend to get it more than men. And if you get Frozen Shoulder on one side of your body, you’re up to 30% more likely to get it on the Other Side.




Your Doctor will ask you about your Symptoms, Injuries, and Medical History. Then he’ll physically check your Shoulders and the surrounding Muscles and Nerves. He’ll move your Shoulders himself to see where the Pain and Stiffness starts. This is your passive range of motion. Then he’ll ask you to move it yourself. That’s your Active Range of Motion.  At the Extreme Limit, it may feel like your arm is stuck and unable to move any further. If you have a Frozen Shoulder, your Passive and Active Range of Motion will be less than Normal.



A Western Doctor may give you an “Injection Test” to help narrow down the causes of your symptoms. Your Doctor may give you an injection in your Arm which will ‘dulls’ the pain. With most Shoulder Problems, this gives you a bigger Range of Motion, but it won’t change much if you have a “Frozen Shoulder”. Doctors typically only use imaging tests like X-Rays, Ultrasounds, and MRIs to rule out other Shoulder Conditions.


Physical Exercises and Therapy


Once your Frozen Shoulder pain starts to ease up, your Doctor might prescribe some form of Arm Exercises for you.   A Physical Therapist may also give you moves to do as homework to help ease the situation. Take it easy at first. If you “push through the pain,” you could make things worse. You’ll likely to start with a Range-of-Motion exercises for a couple of months. After you feel better, you can safely begin on Strength Building.



Some drugs such as NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) like Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen may curb some of the Pain and Swelling. More powerful drugs called “Steroids” are sometimes injected directly into the joint. But it can be tricky to get them into just the right spot, and even these will only provide “Temporary Relief” of your symptoms.



Your Western Doctor might suggest this method if Physical Therapy and Medications haven’t helped you. He’ll use pictures of the inside of your body to guide a shot of fluid into your Shoulder Joint. The goal is to stretch out the Shoulder Joint Capsule and give you a better Range of Motion.



Your Western Doctor might suggest this “Surgery”, usually in the “Frozen” Stage, if nothing else works. There are TWO Methods, sometimes used together. The First is Manipulation the Shoulder Joint while you’re “asleep” from General Anesthesia. The surgeon moves the Shoulder Joint until it “Stretches” or even “Tears”  the tissue. The Second method, called Arthroscopy, cuts the Affected Tissue directly. Your Surgeon works through small cuts in your skin, using Special Tools.




“Frozen Shoulders” gets better for a lot of people within a year or more if they do constant Physical Therapy and use Pain Medicines and Steroid Shots (if needed). Even without those Methods, most people get better within a couple of years (usually 3 years or more).  However, if you have Diabetes, it may be harder for you to recover in a short period of time. Surgery works pretty well as long as you stick with your Physical Therapy. Afterward recovery, then you rebuild and keep up your strength and mobility.


How can we help you at SIN KANG TCM CLINIC?


At the SIN KANG TCM CLINIC, our therapists have spent decades ‘specialising’ in the treatment of “Frozen Shoulders” cases (no matter how serious or advance it may be).  We have treated thousands of successful cases; with more than 90% of these patients having their Shoulder full range of motion completely restored in just one single session of just 1 hour.


Our Senior Tuina Therapists use a very special and unique frozen shoulder relief and treatment technique which we devised to achieve virtually 100% success in all the cases we treat.  The technique involved is non-invasive, virtually painless and without much discomfort to the patients. Some of the patients may even sleep through parts of the whole procedure and treatment. The treatment may involve the use of acupuncture needles or traditional Chinese herbs and medication.


Call us to book an appointment with our Senior Tuina Therapist today and get that “Frozen Shoulders” completely released instead of suffering for the next 3 years.  A short waiting period may be expected as only a limited number of cases can be treated each day.


Authored by Mr. SIM CHIN SENG