When you hear the words “frozen shoulder”, it’s tempting to think of a shoulder that doesn’t move at all. But the more usual picture is a shoulder with restricted range of motion associated with pain and stiffness. This condition is extremely disabling. In most cases, it is difficult to reach the hand to the head, lift the arm above the shoulder or reach behind the back. Imagine the frustration in trying to perform all the common activities of daily living that require these movements.
Typically, frozen shoulder syndrome occurs in individuals over the age of 40 years. Women are affected more frequently than men. The exact mechanism is not known, and it isn’t clear why some people get this problem and others don’t. The risk is much higher in individuals experiencing prolonged immobility of the shoulder.
For instance, immobility may occur due to a broken arm that requires the person to keep their arm in a sling for several months. Or it can happen in an individual that physically cannot move the arm due to stroke or other systemic causes. Or it can happen without obvious etiology and is called idiopathic frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis.
Adhesive capsulitis is often associated with postural imbalances and poor shoulder function. Individuals with kyphosis in the thoracic spine are at risk. Rounding in the shoulders and upper back make it difficult for the arm to move efficiently in the shoulder joint and predisposes to injury. Individuals with a long history of impingement syndromes (rotator cuff or glenohumeral soft tissue injuries) are also at risk. Chronic pain from repeated impingement injury can result over time in diminished range of motion and strength.
The incidence of frozen shoulder is much higher in individuals with diabetes suggesting a possible autoimmune component. It is estimated that 10-20% of individuals with diabetes will experience frozen shoulder sometime during their life and recovery may be slower than expected. Other associated risk factors include thyroid problems, cardiovascular disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Pain is almost always part of the inciting presentation. Pain is often worse at night and in cold weather. Sleep is frequently interrupted. Accidentally banging or bumping a frozen shoulder can cause sharp shooting pains that last several minutes.
Because of the pain, the shoulder is not used as frequently which in turn leads to restricted movement and, ultimately, moderate to severe limitations in range of motion. Not all movements are equally compromised. External rotation and abduction tend to be hit the worst, and flexion and medial rotation are relatively spared. Although frozen shoulder usually resolves without treatment, it may take 2-3 years to do so.
Pilates can help you speed up recovery and get back to the things you enjoy doing. Always get permission from your physician before starting a Pilates program. Your Instructor will design a program that focuses on
1. Gentle range of motion exercises to improve flexibility and mobility
2. Strength training as permitted to improve shoulder function
3. Overall Core strengthening to improve posture and balance
Prevention of frozen shoulder is ideal. If you are at risk, Pilates will help you restore posture, strengthen the rotator cuff muscles and keep your shoulders moving smoothly through full range of motion.
Pilates has been a wonderful experience both physically and mentally – it relieves stress and gets your body in a “can do” spirit to stretch and feel good. The instructors are the best and the people I’ve met in class are fun to be with. Friendships develop. I will do this forever!
I have taken yoga and Pilates classes from Stephanie for many years, and I can say that she is terrific. Her background in physical medicine and rehab makes her uniquely qualified to instruct and coach with a focus in balanced strengthening, proper alignment, and prevention of injury. I enjoy the low key environment at the studio, and have made many friends in her classes.
I love the classes and instructors at SDK Pilates! Stephanie, the owner, has been a tremendous help to me with understanding challenges I face with a bad hip. Her expertise and medical background have helped me select exercises that are appropriate for me and I have learned there are still plenty of things that I can do to strengthen my body! At other places, I sometimes overdid my workouts (and hurt myself) – SDK’s instructors have helped me increase my flexibility and strengthen my body in a s…
I have been a client of Stephanie’s for several years. What I think makes her stand out from other studios is that she was a doctor & understands each individual clients bodies. The new studio is airy spacious & calming
My experience with SDK Pilates has been outstanding. All of the instructors have been knowledgeable and welcoming. All levels of fitness and capabilities are embraced, addressed and challenged. Individual needs are seamlessly met with in the class. Every class is different and I always walk out feeling better than when I walked in. I take Pilates twice a week and wish I could take it every day!
SDK Pilates is wonderful! I have been taking classes from Stephanie for a number of years and thoroughly enjoy both her Pilates and therapeutic yoga sessions. Her training as a doctor enables her to work around physical limitations and injuries and strengthen weaknesses. She has helped me immensely with chronic shoulder issues. The fun nature of the classes, the camaraderie of the attendees and the great workout make SDK classes my favorite way to exercise!
SDK Pilates is great! So far I’ve taken Pilates classes with Steph and Nancy, and I’m looking forward to Yoga with Mark. Currently working on core strengthening, shoulder mechanics, overall conditioning, and my golf game.