Question:

Dear TAI Experts:

My mother has suffered from frozen shoulder for 8 months. She recently started experiencing pain and stiffness in her neck. She is visiting Seattle for 6 weeks and needs advice and what she should do.

Answer:

I am sorry to hear of your mother’s shoulder. Without performing an examination I am unable to comment specifically on your mother’s condition. Generally speaking, frozen shoulder is a condition of the capsule, which is a tissue that surrounds the joint. The joint capsule provides stability and contains the joint fluid. In frozen shoulder the capsule becomes inflamed and limits bone movement and range of motion. Sometimes range of motion can be preserved and improved with manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, and modalities guided by a physical therapist, but in other cases the “thawing out” process of the frozen shoulder may take 18-24 months.

In conjunction with restricted shoulder motion, some patients may experience increased neck and back discomfort as a result of attempting to make compensations for limited arm use. I would recommend that your mother see an orthopedic physical therapist prior to her departure or while she is visiting Seattle so that she and the therapist may develop a specific treatment plan to maximize her current function by addressing impairments and to prevent soreness at other joints.

Leslie Girard PT, DPT