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Bowen and... frozen shoulders

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

Frozen shoulder (sometimes called adhesive capsulitis) is a condition where a shoulder becomes painful and stiff. Shoulder movements become reduced, sometimes completely 'frozen'. As you’ll know if you’ve read my earlier blog about shoulders, they’re a very important joint so being unable to move one of them is inconvenient and not only bad news for your arms, but for the rest of your body.

The cause of a frozen shoulder is not clear. It’s thought that some scar tissue forms in the shoulder capsule, which is a thin tissue that covers and protects the shoulder joint. The scar tissue may cause the capsule to thicken, contract and limit the movement of the shoulder. The reason why the scar tissue forms isn’t known either. Most cases occur for no apparent reason. The pain comes on gradually, and is usually worse at night before developing to be excruciating all the time.

Without treatment, symptoms usually go away by themselves but this may take up to 3 years. In the meantime your shoulder will be very painful and may be completely immobile; this will, naturally, be not only very unpleasant but also extremely inconvenient. It’s likely you will be unable to work, and in fact may be unable to do very much at all. The standard NHS treatment for a frozen shoulder is physiotherapy; however this will consist of being given a series of exercises and waiting for them to take effect. You may be given a steroid injection into the joint (which is as painful as it sounds!) which ‘can bring good relief for several weeks’ but will not cure it. Otherwise, you’re on paracetamol, ibruprofen or cocodamol – or gritted teeth - until it gets better. But don’t worry, the majority of people recover within two years – so that’s all right then.

Your natural inclination during this time of extreme pain is to keep your arm as still as possible, but that’s actually the worst thing you can do as it will only increase the stiffness. Equally you may be unable to move your arm very much (remember it is called frozen shoulder) so you will just get worse and worse.

Bowen therapy can un-freeze your shoulder in as little as one treatment. I gave a taster treatment to a lady who had been unable to lift her arm past 90 degrees for over a year. I did some remedial work on her shoulder which took about 15 minutes and asked her how it was. Without thinking she lifted it straight up to her ear – full range of movement had been restored and she had no pain. I wish I’d taken a picture of the look on her face when she realised what she’d done.

Of course there’s no guarantee that will happen for you, but if you have got a frozen shoulder I’m willing to bet you’re prepared to give it a try.

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