I receive many questions each month from subscribers to Women's Health Letter. Since I can't reply to all of them in my newsletter, I've decided to answer them periodically in these health alerts. I hope that they'll provide you with some of the answers to your own questions.
This week, Ms. U.B. from Altamonte Springs, FL asks: "My frozen shoulder has not improved sufficiently after a year. What do you think about my going to a European spa to heal it?"
Many European spas have an aggressive program of heat, massage, and therapy that can be very effective. But I think there are a lot less expensive ways to treat a frozen shoulder. The treatment for this condition is long-term. And, unless you plan on moving to Europe, you can get the same results in this country.
A frozen shoulder is where the capsule around it has scarred, drastically reducing range of motion.
There are various types of frozen shoulders. And each type requires slightly different treatments. So you should have a doctor evaluate your shoulder. But not just any doctor. You should look for an osteopath (a medically trained doctor who specializes in manipulation) or an MD who is an orthopedist. Reason: You may need tests or treatment that only an osteopath or orthopedist can order.
These would include prescription drugs, such as an anti-inflammatory for pain, a physical therapist, or tests, such as an MRI. To find an osteopath, look in the Yellow Pages under Physicians (Osteopaths).
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Osteopaths, chiropractors, or physical therapists can manually increase the range of motion. Even if it's painful, breaking up scarred connective tissue helps the healing progress faster.
In addition to having your shoulder manipulated, you need to be on a strict exercise regime several times every day to correct this condition. In some cases, ice, heat, or ultrasound may be helpful. Heat helps relax muscles, but don't use it if there's any inflammation. Inflammation means there's already heat present.
Any inflammation (like tendonitis) is an indication that you need ice. You may also need either anti-inflammatory drugs or natural supplements (such as glucosamine, turmeric, or Padma Basic, a Tibetan herbal formula).
If all else fails, an osteopath who can also perform surgery may suggest having you put under anesthesia and taken to surgery
where your shoulder can be moved without you experiencing any pain. You would then follow this treatment with ice, medications, and physical therapy.
All of this being said, I can't imagine a more pleasant way of un-freezing a frozen shoulder than being pampered at a European spa with massage and heat treatments. If you'd like to take your own personal nutritionist along to make sure you're eating the best possible anti-inflammatory diet, by all means please let me know.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand