From the perspective of Chinese medicine, we generally refer to frozen shoulder as “50s shoulders” because many of our patients start to develop symptoms around the age of 50. The cause of this disease is actually the accumulation of living environment, living habits, and exercise habits.
The occurrence of frozen shoulder is usually divided into 2 major factors-external and internal. The most common external cause is “Wind-cold attack” – induced by wind chill, cold, or rain. Shoulder pain is mild, short course, the pain is confined to the shoulder, manifested as pure pain, soreness or numbness.
There are 3 internal causes – wind, “Cold and dampness”, “Deficiency of both qi and blood”, and “Blood stasis to hinder circulation”.
“Wind”, “Cold” and “Dampness” are common causes for most Singaporeans. Living in damp areas for a long time and prolonged working hours in air-conditioned shopping malls or offices cause cold and dampness in the veins and stagnation of qi and blood. This is more serious than the “Wind-cold attack” mentioned previously. Most patients have severe pain around the shoulders, or radiating pain in the direction of the fingers, severe pain at night, long illness, shoulder joint dysfunction, accompanied by numbness, heaviness, and a cold stomach.
The two deficiency of qi and blood is caused by long-term over-activity, overwork, exhausting qi, and blood, or chronic damage to the muscles and veins caused by poor posture, or physique deficiency of qi and blood, and weak blood circulation. Many of these patients are those who do not exercise much so the muscles and bones are not stretched or exercise excessively, or improperly (such as gym/yoga addicts). Many of these patients have shoulder pain and numbness, weak limbs, or local muscle spasms, increased pain after exertion, shoulder mobility disorders, weakness in raising hands, accompanied by dizziness, pale complexion, tiredness, relieved after rest, like to press rub. This type of patient generally likes to do tuina massage regularly to alleviate the symptoms.
Most patients with blood stasis have a history of shoulder trauma or hidden contusion. Improper treatment after excessive traction, or shoulder joint dislocations, fractures, and accumulation over time will obstruct blood flow in the shoulders and cause blood stasis to coagulate. Symptoms include slight shoulder swelling and pain, mainly at night. Sometimes it may develop into severe pain, tingling, muscle atrophy for a long time, and limited activity.
The onset of the frozen shoulder does not happen overnight, it usually lasts for many years. In the next article, we will discuss the treatment of the frozen shoulder.