Shoulder Specialist in Visalia – What Rotator Cuff Patients Need to Know

If you are looking for a shoulder specialist in Visalia, because of a rotator cuff injury (a common cause of shoulder pain), seeing a physical therapist first can help you avoid unnecessary treatments like surgery.  This article provides common sense reasoning as to why we can help.

What’s the Rotator Cuff ?

You’ve probably at least heard of the rotator cuff—especially if you play or watch sports—but what you may not know is just how important of a structure it is. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons in the shoulder joint that allows the arm to lift and rotate.  In addition to permitting movement, it also stabilizes the shoulder and helps the joint maintain good alignment and posture during many daily activities.  So any time you experience one of the countless displays of flexibility in your shoulder, you have your rotator cuff to thank.

Because the rotator cuff serves such an important role and is used so frequently, it’s also a common site of injury.  Injuries to the rotator cuff most often occur in people who repeatedly perform overhead motions in their profession or recreational activities. Some examples of those affected by rotator cuff injuries include painters, carpenters and athletes involved in tennis, baseball—especially pitchers—and swimming.

Repeated Overhead Activity Leads to Injury Which Might Mean You Need to See a Rotator Cuff Rehab Specialist

When these activities are performed regularly for a long period of time—or through the aging process—the rotator cuff tendons eventually become inflamed from over-stretching or repetitive stress, which can lead to pain or injury.  The most common injuries seen are rotator cuff tendinitis (or shoulder impingement), shoulder bursitis and rotator cuff tears.  The primary symptoms of a rotator cuff injury is a dull ache deep in the shoulder that makes it difficult to reach behind the back or lift the arm.

To investigate just how many people in the general population have rotator cuff injuries, one study (click for the reference) examined the shoulders of 683 individuals, some of which had shoulder pain and others who did not. This is what they found:

  • Overall, 20.7% of participants had a rotator cuff tear
  • 36% of participants with shoulder symptoms had a rotator cuff tear
  • 16.9% of participants without shoulder symptoms had a rotator cuff tear
  • The risk factors for a rotator cuff tear were trauma to the arm and older age

This study shows that rotator cuff tears are very common, and in many cases, a tear may exist even if the individual does not have should pain or other symptoms. Unfortunately, if you have a rotator cuff injury and go to a doctor first for an evaluation, there’s a chance that you may be instructed to have unnecessary treatments like an injection or surgery if they find a tear. But as you can see, tears are present in many people who aren’t even in pain, and surgery is rarely needed to treat it. Surgery is also very risky and expensive.

Why Seeing a Physical Therapist First Makes Perfect Sense…

On the other hand, if you see a physical therapist for your rotator cuff injury first, in most cases they will treat you right away regardless of whether or not you have a tear. As a result, you can begin your path to recovery through various exercises, manual treatments and other interventions during your first session, while avoiding expensive and potentially dangerous treatments in the process.

So if your shoulder is bothering you and preventing you from functioning normally, make the smart choice of seeing a physical therapist first for the best possible outcome.

Click here to visit our Contact Page, then give us a call to learn more about how we can help.

Physical Therapy for Basketball Injuries

Why Physical Therapy Is Ideal For
Treating And Preventing Any Type Of Basketball Injury

Basketball season is now at full tilt on all levels of play, from youth and recreational leagues all the way up to the NBA. As one of the most popular sports in the country that’s continuing to attract players, more and more athletes are drawn to its fast-paced and competitive nature. The only downside of this increased participation is more basketball-related injuries, but physical therapists have you covered. These medical professionals are experts at treating and preventing all types of basketball injuries.

To play basketball competitively, players must perform with extreme displays of speed, agility and tenacity. Though every position requires a different set of skills, each player on the court needs to run, jump, make quick changes in direction, and accelerate and decelerate with and without the ball. Though these rapid movements are integral to the game, they are also what puts competitive players at risk for injury.

As with other sports, basketball injuries are usually categorized as either traumatic or overuse. Traumatic injuries occur suddenly as the result of a single incident, and include ankle sprains and ACL tears. Ankle sprains are most common and account for 25% of all basketball injuries, making them a major concern for all players. Overuse injuries, on the other hand, take place over time due to excessive stress on a body part without enough time to recover. Some of the most common overuse injuries include patellar tendinitis—or jumper's knee—Osgood-Schlatter disease, Sever’s disease and Achilles tendinitis.

Though each of these injuries results in a different set of symptoms, they all share one thing in common: the power to sideline players for an extended period of time. The good news is that physical therapy can treat any injury experienced on the court and also help players avoid injury in the first place with targeted training. Most physical therapy programs for basketball players will include the following components:

  • Stretching exercises for inflexible areas of the body
  • Strengthening exercises for weak muscles or muscle imbalances
  • Prevention exercises specifically designed to reduce the risk for ankle sprains
  • Manual (hands-on) therapy to address any sore or painful areas
  • Basketball-specific training that mimics the action on the court

Many basketball teams on various levels of play now use injury-prevention programs on a regular basis, often with successful outcomes and fewer injuries. The potential benefits of these programs is highlighted here in the findings of one high-quality study:

Results indicate that prophylactic (protective) programs significantly reduced the incidence of general lower extremity injuries and ankle sprains, yet not ACL ruptures, in basketball athletes

So if you play or coach basketball and are interested in reducing the risk for injury on the hardwood, physical therapy is a smart choice. Contact your local physical therapy clinic for more information or to make an appointment today.

Physical Therapy for Balance Issues

If You’re Dealing With Balance Issues,
Seeing A Physical Therapist Is Your Best Path Forward

As our bodies age, they go through a number of physical and mental changes that usually tend to make life more difficult. One of the more common issues that comes with older age is impaired balance, which can turn otherwise-normal everyday tasks like walking up the stairs into a major challenge. Fortunately for you, physical therapists are experts at identifying and treating any balance disorders that you might have.

A balance disorder or problem exists when an individual has difficulty keeping a stable and upright position when standing, walking or sitting. Older adults are at a much higher risk for having balance disorders than any other age group, as approximately 75% of Americans 70 years and older have “abnormal balance.” This means that one or more aspects of the person’s balance that is in some way misaligned and can cause issues.

Some of the most common factors that influence balance are muscle weakness, joint stiffness, inner ear problems, side effects of certain medications, keeping a sedentary lifestyle (staying seated frequently), or certain medical complications like stroke, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, arthritis and cognitive diseases. In order for a balance problem to occur, there must be a problem with the person’s vision, the inner ear, the muscular system or proprioception (knowing the position of one’s body), or some combination of these systems.

When balance issues occur, it feels as if the world around these patients is moving when it’s really not. As you can expect, problems with balance can prevent individuals from getting around and performing daily activities, which can lead additional health-related problems in the future. This is where physical therapists come in, as they can address any balance impairments through what’s called vestibular therapy using these strategies:

  • Mobility exercises
  • Gaze-stabilization exercises
  • Balance retraining exercises
  • Strength training
  • Flexibility exercises
  • Fall-prevention education

The benefits of vestibular therapy for various conditions have been identified in several studies, and the results of one recent paper showed how it can help improve balance in patients who have suffered a stroke:

This study indicated that vestibular therapy might improve post-stroke patients’ vestibulo-ocular reflex (a measure of balance). Moreover, patients might show improved gait performance at least up to 3 weeks after the vestibular intervention by the sensory reweight to coordinate vestibular input

A balance issue may be a bothersome nuisance to your everyday life, but help is on the way, and it comes in the form of vestibular therapy from a physical therapist. Contact your local physical therapy clinic to learn more or schedule an appointment.

Neck Pain Treatment in Hanford

Neck pain can ruin your concentration, your work, and negatively impact personal relationships.  If you live in nearby and are looking for neck pain treatment in Hanford, here’s some information about how a physical therapist can effectively address your neck pain.

Painful symptoms can strike any region of the spine, and although the most common area affected is the lower back, pain in the upper spine within the neck is also quite common.  This type of pain may not get as much attention as lower back pain, but it can be equally disabling and frustrating.  Fortunately, neck pain can also be successfully treated with a course of physical therapy.

Neck pain is the third most common cause of chronic pain—after back pain and headaches—and its overall prevalence in today’s working population is approximately 45%.  This is about half the prevalence of back pain, which means that for every two people that have back pain, about one will have neck pain.

Most cases of neck pain cases are due to a muscle strain or sprain of tendons or ligaments in the neck or areas that support it.  Some of the more typical causes of neck pain include sleeping on your neck wrong, sitting or standing for prolonged periods with bad posture and carrying a heavy backpack, purse or briefcase.  Neck pain can also develop from conditions like osteoarthritis, a herniated disc or spinal stenosis, or from sudden injuries that may cause whiplash or other neck problems.

Its main symptoms include pain that is often worsened by holding or lifting your head in place for long periods, muscle tightness and spasms, decreased ability to move your head and headaches.  For some people, neck pain is also accompanied by upper back or shoulder pain, and pain in the shoulder may actually be referred from the neck.

Physical Therapy is Well Established as a Great First-Line Therapy Option

For individuals with neck pain, regardless of its cause, physical therapy is one of the most proven effective methods to address it.  A typical treatment program for a patient with neck pain will consist of the following components:

  • Stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Posture training
  • Pain-relieving modalities like ice and heat
  • Functional training
  • Manual (hands-on) therapy

To illustrate how these types of interventions can benefit patients with neck pain, take a look at the findings of a recent study, which compared physical therapy in general to manual therapy, one type of physical therapy treatment commonly used for neck pain:

Patients with neck pain improved in both groups without statistical significantly or clinically relevant differences between the manual therapy and physical therapy groups during one-year follow-up.
Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28465824

These results show that regardless of whether patients received general physical therapy or manual therapy, they experienced similar improvements in their symptoms.  This is just one of countless studies that points out how physical therapy can help neck pain patients, and should serve as encouragement for you to see your local physical therapist if you are currently dealing with any type of neck pain.  Doing so is likely to be your best option for a overcoming your pain and getting back to a pain-free lifestyle.

Call Us Today & Start Feeling Better Tomorrow  –  Contact Our Hanford Office For More Information

Sciatica Treatment in Hanford

Low back pain, on its own, can be a major nuisance to everyday life.  But for some individuals, pain in the lower back may also be accompanied by pain and other symptoms that radiate out through the leg and possibly down to the toes.  This is called sciatica, which is one of the most bothersome conditions that can affect this region.  If you are looking for sciatica treatment in Hanford, please continue reading.  We hope this will help.

The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in our bodies.  It starts in the lower spine and runs through the buttocks and into the thigh, all the way down to the foot.  This nerve serves an important role in communicating messages from the spinal cord to the legs and feet, and when it becomes damaged, sciatica results.

The term sciatica is not exactly a medical diagnosis itself, but instead, it’s used to describe a set of symptoms related to lower back issues.  Common problems affecting the lower back that can cause sciatica include a lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis and spinal stenosis.  When any of these conditions occur, the sciatic nerve may become either compressed or irritated, and this will eventually lead to the development of symptoms.

Sciatica Symptoms Vary Which Makes Treatment Difficult

Sciatica symptoms may differ from person to person, but some of the most common include:

  • Burning or stinging pain in the leg
  • Pain on one side of the buttock or leg pain that gets worse with sitting
  • Decreased muscle strength
  • Pain radiating down the leg that may also go into the foot
  • Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg, foot or toes
  • Difficulty standing or walking due to symptoms

When compared with patients who have low back pain only, individuals with sciatica will generally have more persistent and severe pain, a worse prognosis and are disabled and absent from work for a longer period of time.  This highlights the need to effectively treat sciatica symptoms in addition to low back pain.  In the majority of cases, surgery is not necessary, and a comprehensive course of physical therapy is all that is needed to bring about significant benefits for patients.  These benefits of therapy can be seen in one study that applied a popular technique used by physical therapists called mobilization.  Here’s the conclusion of the study that demonstrated the value of physical therapist directed mobilizations:

Application of mobilization techniques for the sciatic nerves may promote healing of the soft tissues by stimulating the functions of the nervous system to improve nervous system adaptability and decrease sensitivity, helping to alleviate the symptoms.
Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4755972/

So if low back and leg pain are holding you back from enjoying your life, it may be time to try physical therapy.  Contact our Visalia office or our Hanford office and set up a consultation with one of our expert physical therapists to find out more and start a program that will alleviate your pain and improve your function, so you can resume all the activities you’ve been missing out on.

Hands-on for Shoulder Pain Treatment in Hanford

A 2016 clinical trial confirms what we here at Bacci & Glinn Physical Therapy have been doing for years. If you are in need of shoulder pain treatment in Hanford, then this research may be pertinent to you.  In a study of office workers that suffered with shoulder pain, physical rehabilitation involving hands-on treatment was found to be an important part of a conservative treatment program.

Long-term computer use can lead to muscle dysfunction and disorder

Approximately 90% of white-collar workers use computers for more than four hours per day.  Over time, sitting and working at a computer can lead to a dysfunction of muscle stability and other disorders of the region, which may result in shoulder and neck pain, as well as a decreased threshold for pain.  One of the main reasons for shoulder pain is hyperactivity of an upper back muscle called the upper trapezius, which results in decreased control of two other muscles and instability.  To treat this muscle instability, several physical therapy interventions may be used, including manual therapy.  In manual therapy, the physical therapist performs various manipulations and mobilizations on the painful area in order to bring about tissue changes that will lead to less pain.  Manual therapy may therefore be helpful for office workers with shoulder pain, and to evaluate this possibility, a study was conducted.

Middle-aged office workers with pain serve as the study group

Individuals between the ages of 30-40 who had shoulder pain and worked on a computer for more than eight hours a day were invited to participate in the study and screened to determine if they were eligible.  This process led to 38 individuals who were accepted, and then randomly assigned to either the manual therapy group or the shoulder stabilization exercise group.  Both groups underwent treatment during two 40-minute sessions per week for six weeks.  In the manual therapy group, the therapist applied manipulations and mobilizations to various muscles in the back, chest and neck for three minutes each.  In the shoulder stabilization group, patients were instructed to perform a series of stretching and strengthening exercises for muscles in the same area.  All patients were assessed before and after undergoing treatment for pressure pain threshold (PPT) of certain muscles, which measures the minimum force applied that causes pain.

Manual therapy leads to greater improvements

After completing treatment, participants in both groups experienced significant improvements with an increased PPT of several muscles of the upper back; however, the manual therapy group showed greater PPT improvements in these muscles than the shoulder stabilization group.  This is likely due to the pain-relieving properties of manual therapy, as it increases blood flow and decreases the activity of muscles in such a way that it changes the length of tissues and results in less pain.

Here’s an excerpt from the abstract published on Pubmed.org:

The manual therapy group showed greater improvements than did the shoulder stabilization exercise group in the splenius capitis on both sides, left upper trapezius, middle trapezius on both sides, and right lower trapezius. [Conclusion] The results of this study suggest that manual therapy for shoulder pain is feasible and suitable for office workers and may be useful in clinical rehabilitation.
Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27799661

These results show that while both shoulder strengthening exercises and manual therapy appear to be effective for office workers with shoulder pain, manual therapy is even more beneficial for improving their threshold for pain.  Individuals currently dealing with this type of pain should therefore seek out the services of a physical therapist for appropriate treatment.

Diagnoses we’ve successfully treated – Check our medical library

There are a number of shoulder conditions that we regularly treat.  Here’s a link to our medical library where you can learn more about physical therapy for shoulder pain that we provide here in Hanford (and Visalia as well).

If you have questions about your shoulder pain, just give us a call.  Chances are we can help.   Click here to visit our contact page for more information.

-As reported in the September ’16 issue of  The Journal of Physical Therapy Science

 

Looking for Lower Back Pain Treatment in Hanford?

 

If you are looking for lower back pain treatment in Hanford, this recent research study may be of interest to you.  The authors reported that several physical therapy treatments reduce pain and disability in patients with a common lower back condition.  They reported that a joints at base of the spine, the sacroiliac joints, are frequently responsible for pain.

Lower back pain (LBP) continues to be one of the biggest health problems in the world, as 70-85% of the population will experience it at some point in their lives.  About 90% of all patients with LBP will have a good prognosis, regardless of the treatment they receive, but the other 10% will go on to experience chronic, or long-term pain and disability.  This often leads to individuals missing work due to their condition, and for many of them, the cause of the pain can be attributed to one or both sacroiliac joints.

The Sacroiliac Joints Can Be a Source of Pain for Some

The sacroiliac joint connects the sacrum bone at the base of the spine with the ilium, the uppermost part of the hip bone.  Sacroiliac joint dysfunction (SIJD) is a condition in which this joint does not move properly, and it is a common cause of back pain that occurs in up to 30% of LBP patients.  There are several treatments available for SIJD, such as physical therapy, which can include a variety of interventions.

Although physical therapy is often used to treat SIJD, research is lacking and it’s not completely clear just how effective it is for the condition.  For this reason, a powerful study called a systematic review was conducted to evaluate the possible benefits of physical therapy for SIJD.

Six medical databases searched for appropriate studies

To conduct the review, researchers performed a search of six major medical databases for relevant studies.  In particular, they were looking for studies that assessed the effectiveness of various physical therapy interventions for patients with SIJD for more than three months who did not have spinal surgery.  This search led to 1,114 studies being identified, but only nine of these fit the necessary criteria.

Four studies used manipulation as the main physical therapy intervention, three of them used exercise and another three used kinesiology tape.  Manipulation is a form of hands-on intervention in which the therapist manipulates joints and other structures to relieve pain, while kinesiology tape is applied to the painful area in order to bring about similar changes.

Here is the Conclusion that the Authors Published

The results showed that physiotherapy interventions are effective in reducing pain and disability associated with SIJD, with manipulation being the most effective approach and most commonly used within physical therapy clinics. [Conclusion] Manipulation, exercise and kinesio tape are effective in the treatment of pain, disability and pelvic asymmetry in SIJD.
Reference-  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28932014

Manipulation found to be the most effective of all treatments

Results showed that all three physical therapy interventions of manipulation, exercise and kinesiology tape were beneficial for reducing pain and disability, and for restoring normal symmetry of the pelvis in patients with SIJD.  When the interventions were compared to one another, it was found that manipulation was the most effective of all three at reducing pain and improving functional abilities.

These findings strongly suggest that physical therapy is indeed supported as an effective treatment for SIJD patients.  Researchers behind this review therefore recommend that anyone affected by LBP that may be due to SIJD should consider seeing a physical therapist for a comprehensive treatment program that includes manipulation to address their pain and disability.

We Treat Lower Back Pain and Sacroiliac Dysfunction in Hanford on a Daily Basis

If you would like to learn more about our all-natural, hands-on approach, contact us for an initial evaluation.  Most insurance plans cover physical therapy.

Click here to visit our contact page.

As reported in the September ’17 issue of  The Journal of Physical Therapy Science

Osteoarthritis Treatment in Visalia – Who Should You Call

Wear-and-tear arthritis can be a burden on your daily life, but physical therapy can help.  The evidence is clear.  If you have osteoarthritis and are looking a conservative care, look no more.  For osteoarthritis treatment in Visalia, Bacci & Glinn Physical Therapy is an outstanding choice.  Here’s why.

Many natural changes occur to our bodies as we age, and in most cases, there is not much we can do to stop this process.  Unfortunately, some of these changes make getting around in our everyday lives more of a challenge than we’re used to, and a condition called osteoarthritis (OA) is one prime example that can result from these changes.

OA, also known as wear-and-tear arthritis, is a progressive disease that can affect any joint in the body.  Joints are the area where two bones come together, and the end of each joint is surrounded by a protective layer called articular cartilage, which cushions your bones and protects them from rubbing against one another.

Arthritic Wear & Tear of Your Cartilage is Part of the Aging Process – But There is Hope

During the natural aging process, this shock-absorbing cartilage gradually begins to break down over the course of time.  With less protection, bones come closer and closer together, until eventually they are so close that the joint starts to swell and symptoms begin to develop.  Although OA can occur in any joint in the body, it is by far most common in the knees and hips, since both of these joints bear a great deal of our body weight.  Other factors that are involved in the development of OA are being overweight or obese, bone structure, genetics, strength and physical activity level.

OA affects every part of the joint, including the bone, cartilage, ligament and muscle.  Symptoms vary from patient to patient, but usually consist of the following: pain, stiffness, tenderness and/or swelling, a popping, cracking or crunching feeling, and difficulty getting out of bed, standing up or performing many daily activities

Osteoarthritis is Common in Older Individuals and Here’s How to Overcome It

OA of the hip and knee is quite common in older individuals, but that doesn’t mean you should just live through the pain and allow your life to be affected.  Instead, pursue a course of physical therapy that will target your arthritic joint and teach you how to make changes in your life that will help you overcome your OA.  A typical physical therapy treatment program will include:

  • Stretching exercises
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Manual, or hands-on therapy
  • Pain-relieving modalities like ice, heat and ultrasound
  • Activity recommendations and modifications

To illustrate just how effective physical therapy can be for OA, consider the results from this recent study, which evaluated the use of resistance exercise, an intervention commonly used by physical therapists:

Data from 17 randomized clinical trials including 1705 patients were integrated. The main source of methodological bias in the selected studies was lack of double blinding. The meta-analysis results suggested that resistance exercise training relieved pain (standard mean difference, alleviated stiffness, and improved physical function .

This study restates the same conclusion of many others about of the benefits you can expect when you see a physical therapist for any type of OA.  So if your joints are ailing you and it may be OA, contact one of our physical therapists here in Visalia for an appointment as soon as possible.

Knee Pain Treatment In Visalia

Physical therapy is an ideal approach for any condition that’s causing your knee pain.  Below is a summary of why you might consider our experienced clinicians if you are looking for knee pain treatment in Visalia.  Please read more to find out.

There are Many Options for Knee Pain Treatment in Visalia – Here We Make the Case to See One of Our PTs First

There are certain areas of the body that are just more prone to pain than others, and the knees are one of them.  Ranking behind back pain, knee pain is actually the second most common musculoskeletal condition, and it’s the single greatest cause for disability in people aged 65 and older.  This bothersome pain can interfere with your daily life, make it difficult to complete certain activities and negatively affect your mood.  But just because knee pain is common doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it.

Knee pain can arise from several conditions and may be the result of an overuse injury over time or a single injury.  Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative condition in which the protective cartilage surrounding the ends of bones in the knee gradually wears away, causing bones to rub against one another.  Runner’s knee is another overuse injury that’s common in runners, while jumper’s knee tends to affect athletes involved in sports with lots of jumping.  Other examples of overuse injuries that develop over time include iliotibial band syndrome, quadriceps tendinitis and bursitis.

In other cases, knee pain is due to a traumatic, one-time injury.  Athletes involved in sports that require cutting movements like basketball, football and soccer are particularly vulnerable to these types of injuries because they often push the knee to its limits.  Sprains and strains are the most common types of traumatic knee injuries that cause pain, and in extreme circumstances, tears are also possible and require more intense treatment.

The good news is that whatever its cause, most cases of knee pain can be treated non-surgically with a comprehensive physical therapy treatment program.  These programs are designed to reduce pain, restore strength, regain function and make mobility easier, and usually consist of the following:

  • Strengthening exercises to build back the strength of weakened muscles
  • Stretching exercises to increase flexibility of the knee and surrounding structures
  • Ice and/or heat therapy, which will help reduce pain
  • Manual therapy, in which the physical therapist uses their hands to perform a series of techniques to improve the mobility of the knee
  • A home-exercise program to help you retain your improvements

There is a great deal of research that supports the benefits of physical therapy for a range of conditions that cause knee pain.  In one recent study, non-aerobic exercise was used to treat patients with knee OA, and researchers concluded with the following:

 The results showed that the patients with knee OA (osteoarthritis) in exercise group had significant improvement in pain, disability, walking, stair climbing, and sit up speed after treatment at first and second follow-up when compared with their initial status and when compared with non-exercise group.
Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4431424/

Instead of letting your knee pain interfere with your daily life, why not do something about it?  Contact one of our physical therapy clinics for an appointment and you’ll be taking the first important step on your way to a successful recovery.

 

Frozen Shoulder Treatment in Visalia

Recovering from frozen shoulder often takes a while, but if you are looking for frozen shoulder treatment in Visalia, our physical therapy treatment can help every step of the way.

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint, with the upper arm bone (humerus) serving as the “ball” and fitting into the “socket” of the shoulder blade (scapula).  The bones and other structures of the shoulder are surrounded by a structure called the shoulder capsule, which is made up of strong connective tissue that keeps the shoulder stable.  Adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder, occurs when scar tissue forms within the shoulder.  This causes the shoulder capsule to thicken and tighten around the shoulder joint, which means there is less room to move the shoulder normally.

Frozen shoulder affects up to 5% of the population, but it’s not clear why it develops.  In general, it’s believed that one of the leading factors is not moving the shoulder normally for a long period of time.  People between the ages of 40-60, women and those with arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other health conditions are also more likely to develop it.

Frozen shoulder usually develops slowly and gets progressively worse with more pain and loss of motion over time.  This is typically broken down into the following stages:

  • Stage 1 (pre-freezing): symptoms start and gradually get worse over 1-3 months
  • Stage 2 (freezing): generally occurs 3-9 months after the start of symptoms; any movement of the shoulder causes pain, which is even worse at night
  • Stage 3 (frozen): occurs within 9-14 months; the shoulder becomes more stiff, making it more difficult to move and rotate it
  • Stage 4 (thawing): occurs within 12-15 months; pain decreases significantly, especially at night, range of motion begins to improve, making it easier to move

This shows that frozen shoulder follows a long course of development and eventual recovery, but following a physical therapy treatment program can expedite this process.

The goal of physical therapy is to control pain and increase strength and flexibility, and physical therapists have specific treatments that are designed to help patients improve at each stage of frozen shoulder.  In general, treatment consists of stretching exercises, manual (hands-on therapy), strengthening exercises and returning to daily activities.

The following findings from a 2007 study clearly identify the value of physical therapy for treating patients with frozen shoulder:

With supervised treatment, most patients with adhesive capsulitis will experience resolution with nonoperative measures in a relatively short period. Only a small percentage of patients eventually require operative treatment.

Dealing with frozen shoulder can be a long, drawn-out and frustrating process, but in seeing a physical therapist, you will be certain to increase your chances of easing the burden of your condition and having a successful, faster recovery.
For more information about our practice locations, click here for details about our Visalia & Hanford offices.