Frozen Shoulder in month 4 with no improvement

by Anne
(Birmingham, Al)

A first rib fixation is often the underlying cause affecting both nerve and blood supply.

A first rib fixation is often the underlying cause affecting both nerve and blood supply.

Frozen Shoulder in month 4 with no improvement must be very frustrating; this condition hurts a lot.

I am now about to enter month 5 of suffering from chronic pain that is associated with frozen shoulder. I am a 59 yo female and have suffered from this condition in the past with the opposite shoulder which resulted in 3 surgeries because I believe the condition was misunderstood.
This time, as soon as the familiar frozen shoulder pain presented itself, I vowed to beat it without surgical intervention, therefore I contacted a sports medicine md here in Birmingham, Al. who treats patients without operating. She gave me a steroid shot and recommended physical therapy.
The physical therapy was relieving the pain somewhat, but the bills were extraordinary because of my high deductible. Eventually I quit the pt and attempted to replicate the regime at home as closely as possible.
My therapist followed up with me on the phone, and assured me the shoulder would improve if I kept up my routine.
I am becoming increasingly frustrated as I don't believe there has been significant change since day one.
My routine now is heat, warm up on the rowing machine for 7 min., stretching, very light weights, ice, Advil, and tens unit.
I noticed your demonstration of stretching exercises on this website and hope that I can incorporate those as well.
I plan to do some research on chiropractic treatment and determine what my out of pocket expenses would be.
I think I am just searching for words of encouragement as this condition is increasingly wearing on me both physically and mentally.
I would appreciate any comments about this condition.

Hello Anne,
I can understand your frustration and it's true that untreated a frozen shoulder can go on for a four years; enough to make anyone depressed. And the cost of treatment is indeed not insignificant, especially if it's not helping.

However, I do have some good news. Whilst so called 'straight' chiropractors who adjust only the spine won't get these kind of results, I have treated many hundreds of frozen shoulders and as a general rule the pain is reduced within a month by at least 50%. Full range of motion may never return but honestly if you lose 10% of flexion, you'll hardly notice it, if you have no pain. You can expect the ROM to largely return within a year.

Go to and see the side effects of advil, also known as ibuprofen; taken for a short period the risks are probably minimal but swallowed month after month, with no improvement makes no sense considering the dangers.

With you having had this before in the other shoulder one should also consider whether this isn't systemic. This is the time to get onto an anti inflammatory diet; there are many aspects of this but perhaps most important is to strictly reduce omega-6 oils and increase omega-3. A change to extra virgin olive oil, and either fatty fish or freshly ground flax seed would go a long way to helping.

There is often a deposit of 'toothpaste' in the shoulder joint itself; foods rich in magnesium like spinach on a daily basis would also be important.

Then there are the exercises; just do them very faithfully several times every day; the rule is you will feel it, but they mustn't cause pain.

The underlying cause of frozen shoulder, apart from diet, is often in the AC joint, a first rib or lower cervical fixation; without those being addressed you can expect it to go on for the full four years.

Contact your local chiropractic association and ask for the name of a DC with a FICS qualification; sports chiropractic.

Good luck, I hope this contributes; let us know in six weeks how you are getting on.

Dr B

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti-inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He is doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost pain-free. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily stroll has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift; he has a short leg.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. X-rays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65-year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88-year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done. 

10. Mr X is a 71-year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a few months ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he could not sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71-year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

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