Looking for a Knee Pain Specialist in Hanford

If you’re currently dealing with knee pain, you may find yourself in a difficult predicament. Sometimes you need some guidance from a knee pain specialist in Hanford.  If so, this article and a visit with one of our physical therapists can help.

The best—and worst—types of physical activity for your knee pain

You probably want to continue doing the things you love, but when you do, your pain holds you back, and you might be concerned that you’re damaging it even more when you exercise. This situation is common, but as physical therapists, we can assure you that staying active is still very possible and strongly encouraged.

Knee pain is actually the second most common musculoskeletal condition in the general population behind back pain, and its prevalence is increasing as a result of the obesity epidemic and our aging population. Some cases of knee pain develop over time and are classified as overuse injuries, such as runner’s knee and iliotibial band syndrome. In others, though, knee pain results from traumatic injuries sustained in sports, usually as the result of a sudden change in direction or quick weight shift. This can lead to a tear of the meniscus, ACL or some other soft tissue within the knee.

But whatever the cause of the knee pain, it doesn’t have to put an end to your participation in physical activity. All it means is you’ll need to switch to exercises that have less of an impact on your knees while still working out the rest of your body. In turn, strengthening the muscles around the knee joints will protect you from injury by decreasing the stress and protecting them from normal wear and tear.

So if you’re trying to stay active while rehabilitating your painful knee, this list should serve as a great starting point for you:

  • Swimming: any type of water activity, including swimming, is ideal for the knees since it’s low impact; however, the butterfly stroke should be avoided
  • Brisk walking/biking/elliptical machine: the elliptical is a great alternative to jogging, while brisk walking and biking are always smart low-impact option
  • Yoga/Pilates/Tai Chi: if you’re able to get a personal class, tell your instructor about your knee pain, and they’ll be able to personalize your program for you
  • Stretching: the hamstring stretch, quadriceps stretch and iliotibial band stretch all target muscles in your thigh that help stabilize the knees
  • Wear a brace: you should also consider wearing a quality knee brace while performing these activities, which is designed to protect an injured knee and ensure the knee moves in a controlled manner without being constricted; consult with a doctor or physical therapist for help picking out a brace
  • Use insoles: cushioned insoles are also helpful in shoes to reduce stress on knees
  • Avoid: any high-impact exercise or any physical activity that involves sudden stops, starts, pivots or jumps and landings, including jogging, basketball, tennis, soccer, football and racquetball; these activities can make knee pain worse

Physical activity is just one part of the equation, and a comprehensive physical therapy program is also needed to properly rehabilitate most knee conditions. This is why we strongly recommend giving us a call to set up a consultation that will determine the best path forward for you based on your situation and personal goals.

For More Information You can Contact Our Hanford Office at (559) 582-1027

If the the Visalia Office is More Convenient, You can Call Us at (559) 733-2478

Physical Therapy After Knee Replacement in Visalia

Physical therapists play a vital role throughout both before and after knee replacement

Are you looking for physical therapy after knee replacement in Visalia?  If so, this information below might help.  We summarize why seeing a physical therapist pre and post knee replacement is a good idea.

Your knees take on a great deal of impact, especially if you’re actively involved in sports that consist of lots of running, jumping and/or cutting. As a result, the knee is one of the most commonly injured regions of the body, and the most commonly replaced joint. If you’re considering knee replacement surgery, it’s important to realize that physical therapy is a crucial part of the entire process.

Knee replacement surgery—or total knee arthroplasty—is a very popular procedure, but deciding to have it performed should only come after all other options have been unsuccessful. Almost all sources of knee pain should be treated conservatively (non-surgically) first with physical therapy and certain lifestyle modifications. If knee pain continues to be bothersome after attempting various types of conservative treatment, patients should evaluate the option of surgery with their physical therapist and an orthopedic surgeon.

If you’re found to be a good candidate for knee replacement surgery, your surgeon will explain the procedure itself, as well as the preparation and recovery process that will come with it. Physical therapy is integral at all stages, and your physical therapist can help ensure that the surgery is successful by providing evaluation and treatment before and after the procedure.

Before Surgery

  • Your physical therapist will teach you a number of exercises and show you how to walk with an assistive device (e.g. cane or crutches) after the procedure
  • They will also discuss important precautions and adaptations to make at home

Immediately After Surgery

  • Most patients will stay in the hospital for 2-3 days following surgery, and rehab typically begins almost immediately after waking up: your physical therapist will attempt to have you standing up and walking around within 24 hours
  • Your physical therapist will help you with the process of walking with an assistive device again and begin some range of motion exercises

After Being Discharged From Hospital

  • This is when the bulk of your rehabilitation will begin with a program that includes range of motion and strengthening exercises, and body awareness and balance training
  • As you gradually regain your physical capacity and motion, you will start an active recovery process that includes exercises that help will help improve activities of daily living

The benefits of physical therapy after total knee replacement surgery are frequently identified in related research, and in one recent study, it was found to reduce the amount of time patients spent in the hospital after their procedure. The conclusion states:

After total knee replacement, there is low-level evidence that accelerated physical therapy regimens can reduce acute hospital length of stay.

Making the decision to have surgery for your knee pain is a difficult one, and with it, you’ll probably want to do everything you can to ensure a positive outcome and quick return to the things you love. Physical therapy before and after this procedure is one of the best ways to increase the chances of a successful recovery, and this is why we strongly encourage you to contact us for a consultation if you’re considering knee replacement surgery.

If you have any questions about physical therapy after knee replacement in Visalia or Hanford, we can help.

Click here for the phone and address information for each of our clinics.

Shoulder Impingement Treatment in Visalia – Surgery Is Not Your Only Option

If you have pain in your shoulder, there’s a strong chance shoulder impingement syndrome is responsible

If you look at an x-ray or an MRI of your shoulder, and the doctor tells you that your rotator cuff and bursa are being pinched, you may think that the only shoulder impingement treatment in Visalia is a knife.  Let me share another natural option.

The shoulder is a complex joint consisting of numerous tendons, ligaments and muscles that allow the arm to move in several different directions. These structures help keep the shoulder stable and are crucial for its flexibility, but they also make it vulnerable to a number of injuries. This is one of the main reasons shoulder pain is so common, especially in individuals who perform lots of overhead movements. In most cases, this pain is due to a condition called shoulder impingement syndrome, but the good news is that physical therapy can help, regardless of its cause.

The shoulder is made up of three bones: the upper arm bone (humerus), the shoulder blade (scapula) and the collarbone (clavicle). The humerus and scapula are surrounded and connected by the rotator cuff, which is a group of muscles and tendons that keeps the shoulder stable and allows for the ball-and-socket movements of the joint. There is also a fluid-filled sac called the bursa between the rotator cuff and a bony prominence on the top of the scapula (acromion), and its function is to provide a cushion during movement.

In shoulder impingement syndrome (SIS), the tendons of the rotator cuff become compressed—or “impinged”—as they pass through the narrow space beneath the acromion. Over time, this causes the tendons to become irritated and inflamed, and will lead to bothersome symptoms like swelling and tenderness, loss of strength, restricted shoulder movement and shoulder pain at rest, when moving the shoulder overhead and/or when sleeping.

SIS is most common in individuals that regularly perform lots of overhead activities like golfers, swimmers, and baseball and tennis players, as well as painters and construction workers. If the condition develops, it’s strongly advised to receive physical therapy as soon as possible in order to prevent it from progressing further. Physical therapy for SIS typically consists of the following components:

  • Activity modification/functional training
  • Stretching exercises
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Hands-on (manual) therapy
  • Posture education

A recently published study investigated the effectiveness of eccentric strengthening exercises—a treatment commonly used in physical therapy programs—for patients with SIS, and the results were very encouraging. The conclusion states:

An eccentric program targeting the external rotators was superior to a general exercise program for strength, pain, and function after six months. The findings suggest eccentric training may be efficacious to improve self-report function and strength for those with subacromial pain syndrome (another term for SIS).

Shoulder symptoms from SIS can severely impair your abilities to perform your job or just get through the day without pain, but it doesn’t have to be this way. If your shoulder is bothering you, contact your local physical therapist first and fast, and begin on your path to a pain-free future.

Chronic Neck Pain Treatment in Visalia

For long-term neck pain that just won’t go away, a comprehensive physical therapy program is the fastest path to improvement

Cervical spine pain is a common diagnosis and for many it can last more than three months (then you are labeled as a chronic pain patient).  Physical therapy is a definitely something to consider if you are looking for chronic neck pain treatment in Visalia.

Neck pain is one of the most common health problems throughout the world, and it’s second only to back pain when it comes to painful disorders affecting the muscles or bones. Statistics vary on just how prevalent neck pain is, but some figures estimate that up to 80% of Americans experience at least one episode of neck pain each year. Dealing with neck pain can prove to be a major obstacle in living and functioning normally, and can even lead to some individuals being unable to work.

The majority of people who get neck pain improve on their own within a few days or possibly longer, but for some, it spirals into a long-term and bothersome problem. Between 50-85% of patients who develop neck pain will not experience a complete improvement in their symptoms, and almost half of these individuals will go on to have chronic neck pain. The term chronic neck pain is used to describe pain that lasts for more than three months, and it can lead to additional issues like stress, anxiety, reduced quality of life and a tendency to avoid certain behaviors that might aggravate the pain.

This shows why it’s important to develop strategies for treating patients with neck pain early in order to help them avoid any long-term complications from their problem. There are many treatments available to address neck pain, but one of the most reliable approaches is physical therapy.

The primary benefit of physical therapy is that it takes into account each patient’s symptoms, goals and abilities, and each treatment program is tailored around these individual factors to produce the best possible outcomes. Programs vary from patient to patient, but usually include a variety of treatments, such as massage, patient education, exercise therapy, stretches and/or manual therapy, which consists of mobilizations and manipulations applied to the neck region by the hands of a physical therapist.

A recent study evaluated the effectiveness of cervical mobilization—a type of manual therapy—as a component of a physical therapy program for patients with neck pain, and the conclusion shows why this intervention is used so frequently:

The results suggest that a combination of cervical mobilization with routine physical therapy is more effective for reducing pain and disability and improving neck muscle endurance and neck range of motion in patients with chronic mechanical neck pain compared to routine physical therapy alone.

Just because neck pain is common doesn’t mean it’s something that should hold you back in your daily endeavors. Address your neck pain early by seeing a physical therapist if you notice lingering symptoms, and you’ll be reducing your chances of experiencing bothersome long-term problems associated with chronic neck pain.

Runner’s Knee Treatment in Visalia and Hanford

 

We hear it all of the time.  I didn’t know that PT is an excellent option for runner’s knee treatment in Visalia and Hanford.  It’s true…yes, active individuals are at a higher risk for runner’s knee, but also true that physical therapy can address symptoms before they get worse.

If you run or participate in other sports that involve lots of running on a regular basis, you’re putting yourself in a good position health-wise to maintain adequate fitness.  Unfortunately, you’re also placing yourself at an increased for a number of running-related injuries, and a condition called patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is high on that list.  PFPS can truly dampen your ability to keep staying active, but help is on the way in the form of physical therapy.

The knee consists of two major joints: the tibiofemoral joint, which connects the shinbone (tibia) to the thighbone (femur), and the patellofemoral joint, which connects the kneecap (patella) to the femur.  PFPS—also known as runner’s knee—is essentially an umbrella term used to describe any type of pain that arises from this patellofemoral joint or the area directly surrounding it.  Another way of explaining it is pain at the front of the knee, in and around the patella.

Runner’s knee is regarded as an overuse injury, which means it usually develops due to excessive or repetitive movements that require the use of the knee.  This is why the condition is most common in individuals who are physically active with running or other sports, especially when someone suddenly increases the amount or type of training in their routine.  Other contributing factors include weakness, tightness or stiffness in the muscles around the knee, or an abnormality in the way the lower leg lines up with the hip, knee or foot.

Together, these conditions can interfere with the ability of the patella to glide smoothly on the femur during movement, and this increased friction is what is responsible for the pain and other symptoms associated with runner’s knee.  Patients with runner’s knee typically report feeling pain in or around the patella when walking up or down stairs/hills, after long periods of activity or sitting, or when spending time on uneven surfaces.

These symptoms can certainly make it difficult to keep active or even get through the day without issue, and many patients with runner’s knee have to take time away from their routine as a result.  But physical therapy can actually address these symptoms as soon as they begin and help patients recover before their condition gets any worse.  A typical physical therapy program will include the following:

  • Strengthening exercises
  • Stretching exercises
  • Sport-specific training
  • Taping or bracing if necessary
  • Cross-training guidance to avoid too much time in one sport

Results from a recent review of several studies illustrate just how effective a physical therapy program can be for patients with PFPS:

The studies indicated that manual therapy combined with physical therapy has some effect on reducing pain and improving function in PFPS, especially when applied on the full kinetic chain and when strengthening hip and knee muscles.

So if you’re an active individual and you’ve recently noticed some pain developing around your patella, it could be runner’s knee, and the best way to prevent it from getting any worse is to see a physical therapist right away.

 

Physical Therapy for Chronic Ankle Sprains – Why You Should Consider It

 

The lower the location of a joint in the body, the more weight it’s responsible for supporting.  The ankles, then, have the tall task of supporting the entire body, and this is one of the main reasons they are injured so frequently.  Ankle sprains are the most common injury seen in the athletic population, and they have the power to throw a wrench in the spokes of any active person’s training.  They can also lead to a long-term cycle of re-injury, but all this can be avoided with a physical therapy program.

If you play sports, there’s a fairly strong chance you will sprain your ankle at some point.  Ankle sprains account for up to 45% of all sports injuries, and approximately 25,000 people sprain their ankle every day in the U.S.  The sport you play will also affect your odds, as the majority of sprains (41%) occur in basketball, followed by football and then soccer.  This mainly has to do with the movements that are common in each sport, and lots of jumping and cutting significantly increases the risk for ankle sprains.

Ankle sprains involve the ligaments of the ankle joint, which are flexible bands of tissue that connect one bone to another.  Ligaments are elastic and can be stretched to a certain length and then return to their original position, but they have a limit.  When any of the ligaments in the ankle is stretched beyond its maximum range of motion, damage will occur and result in an ankle sprain.  Symptoms will vary depending on the severity of the sprain, but usually include some—or all—of the following:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Stiffness
  • Instability

If you do experience an ankle sprain, the prognosis is usually quite good, and most people can get back to sports or training within about 4-6 weeks; however, the risk of a condition called chronic ankle instability (CAI) increases significantly after the first sprain.  This is why proper treatment from a physical therapist is necessary for a full recovery and to reduce your chances of experiencing another ankle sprain in the future.  Treatment programs are always individualized, but typically consist of RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation), stretching and strengthening exercises, and balance and functional training.

Physical therapy is recommended for both initial ankle sprains and for patients that continue to sprain their ankles repeatedly, and research has shown that it’s effective in both cases.  The effectiveness of physical therapy and exercises was supported in a recent review of studies that concluded as follows:

For the treatment of acute ankle sprain, there is strong evidence for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and early mobilization, with moderate evidence supporting exercise and manual therapy techniques, for pain, swelling and function. Exercise therapy and bracing are supported in the prevention of CAI.

While it might sound like a single ankle sprain means a long-term series of problems, this is more likely to be the case if the injury is not managed properly from the start.  This is why you should see a physical therapist first and fast after your first ankle sprain to reduce your chances of future injury.

 

Laser Therapy & Fibromyalgia Treatment in Visalia

Fibromyalgia treatment in Visalia can be more effective with the addition of laser therapy

Although it may sound futuristic, lasers are being used in the medical field right now for a wide range of purposes, and their popularity is growing rapidly. You may have heard of medical professionals like surgeons, dentists and opthamologists utilizing them, but it may surprise you to hear laser therapy can be paired with physical therapy, too. In fact, it might be part of your individualized treatment program if your condition calls for it.

A laser is a device that emits light through a process called optical amplification, and the term “laser” is actually an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. Lasers do not occur in nature, but are created artificially, and they produce a monochromatic (one color) light of a single wavelength in a very tight, narrow beam.

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is a non-invasive treatment that makes use of these beams of light for the purpose of reducing pain related an injury or condition. LLLT utilizes red—or close to red—infrared light and directs it to areas that are damaged from injury. When this laser is targeted upon a painful region of the body, particular changes take place within the cells in a process called photobiomodulation. When used properly and appropriately, the expected result of this process is less pain.

In contrast to surgical lasers, the lasers used in LLLT gently pass through the body without breaking the skin or causing any discomfort. For this reason, the risk for side effects after treatment is considered very low.

LLLT is now being incorporated into physical therapy treatment practices with the goal of producing even better outcomes for patients. When applied correctly, LLLT can:

  • Reduce the amount of treatment time needed to recover
  • Safely alleviate pain
  • Reduce swelling from bruising and inflammation
  • Increase circulation to damaged cells

As the popularity of LLLT has been growing, studies are emerging that suggest it can be effective for treating a variety of conditions commonly seen in physical therapy clinics, such as sprains, strains, back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, frozen shoulder and fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia affects between 4-6 million Americans with chronic pain and a wide array of other symptoms, often leading to missed days of work or disability. But one study conducted in 2013 evaluated the use of laser therapy on a group of women with fibromyalgia, and had some promising results. Its conclusion states:

This study provides evidence that laser therapy may be a beneficial modality for women with fibromyalgia in order to improve pain and upper body range of motion, ultimately reducing the impact of fibromyalgia.

So if you’re dealing with any type of pain that doesn’t seem to respond to other treatments, it may be time to give laser therapy a try. Contact us for more information on laser therapy and to find out if it’s right for your condition.

Identifying Low Back Pain Causes…an Exercise in Futility for Most

Identifying the cause of your low back pain is usually difficult, but physical therapy is a universal solution to address most cases

When it comes to low back pain, there is an abundance of alarming statistics available that can help put the massive size of the problem in perspective. Here are a few key examples:

  • Low back pain is currently the number one cause of disability in the world
  • Every year, about 37% of the world’s population will experience low back pain
  • At any given point in time, about 540 million people are affected by low back pain globally
  • The amount of years of disability caused by low back pain since 1990 has increased by 54%

No One is Really Immune to Lower Back Pain

Research has also suggested that very few people are completely immune to the impact of low back pain. The number of individuals affected by it is actually highest in high-income countries, but rates are rapidly increasing in low- and middle-income countries throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East as well. And although low back pain is more common in women and older individuals than in other groups, it can affect just about anyone of any age. In fact, one study showed that 40% of 9-18-year olds throughout the world report having had low back pain.

But despite the incredibly high number of people with low back pain and all that’s known about it, this next fact may surprise you more than anything else: in the vast majority of patients, the actual cause of the pain cannot be identified. In some patients, problems like spine fractures, inflammation disorders, infection and cancer may be responsible, but for everyone else, the cause is not known, and they are classified as having “nonspecific low back pain.”

Additional Factors that Impact the Perception of Back Pain

For these individuals, there are several factors that might play a part in the development of their low back pain. These include:

  • Psychological factors like depression and anxiety,
  • Social factors like income and education levels, and
  • Inherited genetic factors.

People with chronic conditions like:

  • Asthma,
  • Headaches,
  • Diabetes,
  • Smokers, and
  • Individuals with Previous Episodes of Back Pain…

…are also more likely to experience low back pain than those who are in good health.

This may sound overwhelming and perhaps even dampen your spirits if you’re currently dealing with low back pain, but as physical therapists, we’d like you to know that the cause of your pain is not as important as you may think. Many people get hung up on the specific diagnosis of their pain and go on to have tests to determine the source of their problem. But as you can see, getting an accurate diagnosis is rare, and these tests may lead to unnecessary treatments like surgery for some.

Don’t Focus on the Cause of Lower Back Pain When It Can Rarely be Determined

Rather than focusing too much time on the diagnosis, physical therapy concentrates on addressing the problem starting with your very first session. Throughout movement-based therapies and exercises individualized according to your abilities and goals, we will work with you on a one-on-one basis and target your pain from many angles. We believe that movement is a key ingredient for reducing low back pain, and this is why we promote a more active lifestyle along with your treatment program from the get-go.

Current research is continuing to support physical therapy as an effective means to alleviate back pain, no matter the cause. In one recent study that reviewed current guidelines on the best treatments for low back pain, researchers recommended the following:

For many patients with nonspecific low back pain, simple first line care (advice, reassurance and self-management) and a review at 1-2 weeks is all that is required. If patients need second line care, non-pharmacological treatments like physical therapy should be tried before pharmacological therapies.

So if you’re dealing with low back pain, don’t waste your time worrying about what might be causing it. Instead, take action and see your physical therapist now for an evaluation and treatment plan that will address your issues and get you back to moving pain-free once again.

Take-home Messages:

  1. The cause of lower back pain can rarely be determined.
  2. 99% of lower back pain does NOT require surgery.
  3. YOUR BACK IS STRONG, RESILIENT, FLEXIBLE, AND STABLE
  4. The faster you start physical therapy, the better your outcome in almost all cases.

What are you waiting for?  The clinical research is clear and our expert clinicians here in Visalia and Hanford are ready to help.

Contact us today.

Fall Prevention Program in Visalia

Lifestyle modifications and physical therapy can reduce your risk of falling later in life

If you happen to be over the age of 65 or have a loved one in that age group, you are probably aware of the risk of falls and the damage that can be done if one occurs. Awareness is essential for preventing falls, but all the information out there can be overwhelming and lead to a greater fear of falling, which can actually have a negative effect. With that in mind, we’d like to explain some basic steps that can reduce not only your risk, but your fear of falling as well. Falls are the leading cause of injury for older Americans, and approximately one-third of adults aged 65 and over falls each year. When one falls, there’s a good chance bones will be broken. The femur (the thigh bone that meets with the socket in the pelvis) is often fractured as a result of these falls.  Other common fractures include the spine, forearm, leg and ankle. Falls can occur for any number of reasons, but they are usually due to a combination of internal and external factors. Poor vision and/or balance in an environment with bad lighting, bad footing or slippery surfaces can all be a recipe for a fall. If a fall does occur, many individuals go on to develop an even greater fear of falling, even if they don’t get injured. This can cause them to limit their activities, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness. Worst of all, this process can become a vicious cycle that actually increases the risk for falling.

Overcome the Fear of Falling & Improve Your Physical Fitness

What’s most important to realize is that falling should not be seen as an inevitable part of aging. By being aware of your risk and making lifestyle adjustments both in and out of your home, you can significantly reduce your risk of falling. Below are some fall-prevention tips to help you stay on your feet and injury-free:
  • Stay physically active, since good fitness can help prevent falls
  • Wear shoes with nonskid soles, and consider getting Velcro or spyrolaces
  • Conduct a walkthrough of your home (with someone else if you’re uncertain) to identify possible problems that may lead to a fall, then make necessary changes
  • Install handrails on both sides of stairways, avoid clutter and items on the floor
  • Get your eyes checked once a year, and get adequate calcium and vitamin D
  • If you’re taking numerous medications, learn the side effects and if there are any interactions that can increase your risk of falling
  • Take your time, be patient and ask others for help with difficult, risky tasks

Beyond Eduction & Lifestyle Modifications, Our Balance Program Can Really Help

Aside from making these important lifestyle adjustments, physical therapy is another positive means to reduce your risk for falls. A physical therapy program will help to improve your strength, flexibility, balance and overall fitness, all of which will make you more capable of navigating your daily life with a lower fall risk. To highlight how physical therapy can help prevent falls in older adults, a recent study compared resistance (strengthening) exercises to aerobic exercises, both of which are commonly prescribed by physical therapists. Researchers concluded with the following:
Adding resistance exercise to aerobic exercise improves factors associated with an increased risk of falls. However, both exercise regimes, combined or aerobic alone, are more effective than no exercise in the reduction of fall risk factors. Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27353246
So if you’re concerned with your risk for falling later in life, contact us for a consultation and find out how we can help you keep your fall risk at a minimum. NOTE: We have more information about our Balance Program if you click here.

Shoulder Specialist Visalia – About Frozen Shoulder Treatment

Looking for a shoulder specialist in Visalia? We can guide you through every stage of treatment if you adhesive capsulitis

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 helps hold the humerus to the scapula. Adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder, occurs when scar tissue forms within the shoulder capsule. Inflammation of the capsule causes severe pain, inflammation, scarring and a tightening of the shoulder joint, which means there is less room to move the shoulder normally.

Although frozen shoulder affects up to 5% of the population, it’s not entirely clear why it develops. In general, it’s believed that not moving the shoulder joint normally for a long period of time is one of the leading factors, as most people who get frozen shoulder have kept their shoulder immobilized due to a recent injury, surgery, pain or some other condition. People between ages 40-60, women and those with arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other health conditions are also more likely to develop it.

The Stages of Adhesive Capsulitis Development and Resolution

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

  • stage 1 consisting of the onset of symptoms, which gradually get worse over 1-3 months.
  • Stage 2 is the “freezing” stage, which generally occurs 3-9 months after symptoms start and is very painful.
  • Stage 3 is the “frozen” stage in which the shoulder becomes even more stiff and difficult to move.
  • Finally, the “thawing” of stage 4 occurs within 12-15 months, in which pain decreases significantly and range of motion begins to improve.

Conservative Care is the Best First Choice

There are a number of treatment options available for frozen shoulder, but physical therapy is one of the best options because it’s effective for addressing symptoms at every stage. The goal of physical therapy is to control pain and improve strength and flexibility to help patients move their shoulder more easily, and treatment will consist of:

  • Heat and/or ice
  • Stretching exercises
  • Manual therapy
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Specific activity training

The benefits of physical therapy for frozen shoulder can be seen in the findings of a recent study, which evaluated if several commonly used physical therapy interventions were effective for patients with this condition. Here are the results:

Adding a structured rotator cuff strengthening program to TENS and joint mobilization in the treatment of frozen shoulder resulted in improvements in pain, range of motion and function. Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27884497

If You Need a Shoulder Expert Here in Visalia, We Provide All Natural Care – No Drugs, Injections, or Surgery

Frozen shoulder is clearly a serious condition that requires a great deal of time to fully recover from, but physical therapy can significantly speed up this process. If you have symptoms of frozen shoulder, contact us for a consultation right away and we can get you started on a treatment program that will safely help you regain your shoulder function.