Massage for frozen shoulder: part two

By Paola Bassanese

Continuing treatment with client with frozen shoulder, with the realisation that it is near impossible to categorise people into neat boxes.

If you look at youtube videos from specialists on frozen shoulder, the manipulation they demonstrate may work for some cases and for others they won’t. Having said that, I have full respect for all my colleagues in the massage, osteopathy, physiotherapy and chiropractic sector so they all know how and when to apply specific techniques and manipulations.

As a massage therapist, and having had training in working with frozen shoulder, I have found that the best thing to do is to work with the client’s pain tolerance and preferences.

In my current case, sleep patterns are still irregular due to the pain (client is taking painkillers which only work for 3 hours). I wish I could say that the massages are helping my client sleep better or have less discomfort but I can’t.

The only way I believe I am adding some value is by simply being there and being supportive. My client is seeing a specialist and NHS physiotherapist so the thought of having a support team is reassuring in these tough times.

My current treatment methodology includes very simple kneading and soft tissue release particularly in the rotator cuff, deltoids, pectoralis, scalenes. Abduction is too painful so accessing the infraspinatus and serratus anterior is an issue.

The main goal my client and I are trying to achieve is general relaxation so we always conclude the treatment with a comforting foot massage.

Cases like this are truly humbling and they remind you, as a massage therapist, never to make any claims about “healing” or “fixing” people. As long as I can be there for my clients, I am doing a good job.

See also part one.

ADDENDUM. Cortisone injections are usually prescribed for frozen shoulder. A new technique called Hydrodilatation was recently introduced both as an alternative to or to complement cortisone injections. Hydrodilatation or arthrographic distension is the injection of fluid (can be a combination of saline and steroid) to break down scar tissue and ease movement.