Flip Your Script

John J. Schessler, Wellness Coach/Personal Trainer

Frozen Shoulders & Cold Joints….

The older we become, the older and creakier our joints become. What some people don’t realize is that over usage or underusage of a joint may cause far more pain and immobility than we realize. Whenever I train clients, joint pain is the number one complaint I hear from my older and more athletic members. Seems unfair right? Why is that? Joint pain restricts movement and the older we become, the more our mobility is inhibited by these problems. Let’s talk about one of the more common issues: The Frozen Shoulder.

Overall, joint problems affect women more than men with a 60% rate and frozen shoulder statistics are no different. Adhesive capsilitis, commonly known as a frozen shoulder, causes long-standing pain and over time, the shoulder becomes extremely difficult to move and becomes ‘frozen’. Frozen shoulder generally prsents itself in three stages:

  • Freezing – Slow progression of stiffness/pain.
  • Frozen – Improvement in pain levels; stiffness persists.
  • Thawing – Movement gradually returns to normal state of functioning.

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery, frozen shoulder occurs in only 2% of the general population. Age and gender are both risk factors, affecting women more than men and older people more than younger. Other people who may be at risk include those with:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypo/Hyperthyroidism
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Heart Disease/Cardiac Conditions

If a frozen shoulder goes without treatment, further complications can include:

  • Pain in the shoulders
  • Loss of mobility
  • Decreased Range of Motion
  • Muscle problems that persist over time
  • Complete immobilization of the shoulder

Pain management and physical therapy needs to begin as soon as possible to ensure proper healing time and so that the joints do not freeze up to the point where pain is excruciating. During the freezing phase is when that pain is the more severe and the patient benefits the most from pain-relieving techniques. These exercises include gentle shoulder mobilization within the tolerated ROM.

Depending on how severe someone’s shoulder is, there’s many surgical/non-surgical treatment options available. Possible options may be:

  • Bracing
  • Medication
  • Injections
  • Physical Therapy
  • Surgery

Being that every case is different, your therapist/doctor will be able to discuss what are the best form of treatment for you.

In PT school, I was nicknamed ‘Dr. Stretch’ and this article is just one of the reasons why. Staying active regularly, eating well and stretching as part of your daily routine will help your body remain loose, limber and liquidated so frozen joints don’t happen. If you experience pain in your shoulder or anywhere else for that matter, get it checked out! You might be saving yourself a whole lot of pain in the long run.

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John J. Schessler, Jr. is a Pittsburgh-based Personal Trainer, Wellness Coach, Writer, Actor and host of the podcast, “ManAlive!”, available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. He has worked in the fitness industry for over ten years and is certified as a Sports Injury Specialist and Orthopedics Exercise Specialist. If you have Personal Training inquires, please email: j.schessler@pghwellnesscoach.com.

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