If you’ve been living with the pain and stiffness of a frozen shoulder, you’re not alone. The National Library of Medicine records show that two to five percent of the general population deal with a frozen shoulder, and you may be slightly more likely to experience the issue as an individual over the age of 55.
Individuals suffering from frozen shoulder pain are also not without options for help and relief. An experienced chiropractor can assist in the treatment of a frozen shoulder through the application of pressure, stretching key points to help reduce pain, and other treatment options unique to your body and its condition.
If you’re searching for relief in the evening before you can get to the chiropractor, don’t worry—we’ve got tips for you, too. In this post, the shoulder pain experts at Team Chiropractic and Sports Medicine, P.A. of the Triangle will lay out a basic routine for frozen shoulder pain relief at night and share how you can get some sleep with a frozen shoulder.
What is Frozen Shoulder?
The medical term for frozen shoulder is “adhesive capsulitis.” Adhesive capsulitis occurs when the shoulder joint has been immobilized for an extended period of time, causing stiffness and pain. It’s common for the symptoms of a frozen shoulder to occur after someone has had to keep their shoulder still for a while—for example, after surgery or an injury. The shoulder joint is encapsulated in connective tissue, which can sometimes thicken and tighten around the joint itself. A frozen shoulder is the product of the shoulder joint’s connective tissue capsule’s thickening and tightening, which can restrict the movement of the shoulder.
Surgery is rarely needed to treat a frozen shoulder, and comprehensive treatment can usually be accomplished through range of motion exercises and pain management techniques.
Common Frozen Shoulder Symptoms
There are three stages of symptoms that you’ll experience if you have adhesive capsulitis or a frozen shoulder. They are:
1. The Freezing Stage: The first stage of adhesive capsulitis is when you will start to notice pain with movement of your shoulder, limiting your ability to perform daily functions such as changing your clothes or lifting your arm to brush your teeth. This stage typically lasts anywhere from two to nine months.
2. The Frozen Stage: During the second stage of adhesive capsulitis, you may feel less pain in your shoulder, but the joint will become incredibly stiff, making movement even more difficult. This is referred to as the “frozen stage,” and it generally lasts between four months and one year.
3. The Thawing Stage: The final stage of adhesive capsulitis is the “thawing stage,” where individuals begin to feel relief from pain, and stiffness starts to subside. Pain relief over the thawing stage increases gradually, with pain and stiffness typically subsiding over the course of five months to up to two full years.
How to Sleep with a Frozen Shoulder
It’s extremely common for the pain associated with a frozen shoulder to worsen in the evenings before bed. Many patients report difficulty getting comfortable lying down, finding a good resting position, and sleeping through the night.
Following your provider’s advice throughout the day will also help you to get better sleep at night. And in the meantime, try these strategies for getting a good night’s rest with a frozen shoulder:
Sleeping Positions to Avoid with a Frozen Shoulder
- Make sure your head and neck are aligned with your spine. This can be accomplished through the use of a pillow that is the proper height for your body. Lifting your head and neck throughout the night via the use of the pillow ensures a straight line through your spine, reducing pressure on your muscles and bones, including those in and around your shoulder.
- Try side-sleeping with a pillow between your arms. Sleeping on the side of the unaffected shoulder may be your best bet for reducing pain throughout the night. A common pain-relief technique is to sleep with a pillow between the arms to help keep the shoulders in line with each other instead of slumping toward the middle of your body.
- Try back sleeping. Sleeping on your back with your arms by your side is a frozen shoulder pain-relief strategy that doesn’t require any extra pillows and ensures that your spine will stay in alignment during the night.
How to Get Rid of Frozen Shoulder
1. Be Proactive. As we’ve discussed, frozen shoulder is typically caused by immobilization of the shoulder after injury, surgery, a medical emergency such as a stroke, or a similar event. The worst thing you can do to increase your chances of developing frozen shoulder after such an event is to keep your shoulder completely still without specific medical instructions to do so. Even if you’re sitting at a desk all day during your extended recovery, you can still find simple exercises to incorporate to prevent the onset of adhesive capsulitis.
2. Seek Tailored Advice. Once symptoms have started, the first step in treating frozen shoulder pain is to see a medical care provider experienced in treating adhesive capsulitis (such as a chiropractor) who will be able to give you advice tailored to your body and circumstances. An experienced chiropractor will help you manage your pain and treat the symptoms of adhesive capsulitis safely and effectively. Don’t delay getting treatment, as it could be the difference between resolving your pain completely and pain lingering for months or even years.
A study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine showed that of 50 patients who underwent chiropractic treatment for a frozen shoulder, 16 patients saw a complete resolution of symptoms between 11 and 51 days, and 33 patients saw significant (50 percent or greater) improvement of symptoms in the same time period.
3. Manage your pain while you heal. Between provider visits, there are many pain-management techniques you can incorporate at home. Check out our Guide to Home Remedies for Shoulder Pain to learn more.
Team Chiro: Your Partner for Frozen Shoulder Relief in the Triangle
Treatment for your frozen shoulder can help reduce pain and stiffness, increase your mobility, and speed up your recovery. If you’re searching for relief from the symptoms of frozen shoulder, Team Chiropractic & Sports Medicine, P.A. has got you covered throughout the Triangle. Team Chiro is happy to serve Chapel Hill, Research Triangle Park, Carrboro, Durham, Raleigh, Garner, Clayton, Wendell, Wake Forest, and surrounding areas in North Carolina.
Contact us online today or give us a call at 919-788-8881 to schedule your initial appointment and x-ray at either of our convenient locations. We look forward to helping restore your health!