resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
Professional Credentialing and Board Certification: An Ethical Faux Pas
Because of the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are coordinating care through accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to reduce the cost of care and improve quality of care.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
ACA or ICA: Which Best Represents You?
Last June, I was honored to represent Texas ICA members as their representative assemblyman at the ICA Annual Meeting in Kansas City.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
May, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 05
Adhesive Capsulitis: Freezing, Frozen, Thawing Shoulders
By Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President
My last column on reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSDS) seemed to hit a chord. It seems many of us work with clients who live with chronic pain - clients who feel they have limited options in the mainstream medical community.While massage is unlikely to be a curative for this frustrating and potentially debilitating disorder, it is clear we have some benefits to offer. The following is an excerpt from a letter I received from Cynthia van der Smissen, RMT, who achieved some success in treating a client with this condition:
As the title promised, this month's column is about another painful and frustrating condition, but one that has a much brighter outlook than RSDS: adhesive capsulitis, sometimes called "frozen shoulder."
Adhesive Capsulitis: What Is It?
Adhesive capsulitis is the currently accepted term for one of several disorders grouped under the umbrella heading "frozen shoulder." This group includes any combination of shoulder conditions that contribute to reduced range of motion (ROM) at the glenohumeral joint, including arthritis; bone spurs; bursitis; rotator-cuff tears; and impingement syndrome. These problems occasionally lead to secondary adhesive capsulitis, but require different types of intervention for complete resolution.
Adhesive capsulitis is an idiopathic (of unknown cause or origin) problem with a peculiar and unique presentation. It typically has a long, slow, painful onset ("freezing"), followed by a period during which pain is reduced, but function is severely restricted ("frozen"), and finally, a period during which all pain subsides and function is fully or nearly fully restored ("thawing"). The entire process can take anywhere from a few months to well over a year.
Adhesive capsulitis can afflict anyone at any age, but it is seen most frequently among women in their 50s. Some researchers suggest that it affects as much as 2 percent to 3 percent of the population at some point, and somewhere between 10 percent and 15 percent of those patients may have it bilaterally.
Etiology, Signs and Symptoms
Because the shoulder joint has less supporting connective tissue than most joints in the body, it has unparalleled mobility and a huge normal range of motion. Even the capsular ligament that links the humeral head to the glenoid fossa is looser than most joint capsules. This increases mobility, but it leaves the shoulder vulnerable to a number of injuries other joints typically don't face, because they're better protected.
Stage I: Freezing
When the process of adhesive capsulitis starts, the joint capsule begins to adhere to the humeral head. Sometimes, this process is secondary to another injury that limits shoulder use, but it also can occur without any discernable trauma or trigger. This time frame, during which the adhesions between the humerus and the capsular ligament progress and worsen, is the first of three stages, sometimes referred to as the "freezing" stage. The first stage of frozen shoulder can last for two to four months, and is acutely painful in both active and passive movements of the shoulder. Typically, range of motion is lost in medial rotation first, but may progress to all directions.
Stage II: Frozen
The second or "frozen" stage of adhesive capsulitis lasts anywhere from four months to a year. During this time, the joint capsule thickens and essentially glues itself to the humeral head - particularly the anterior portion. Although range of motion is severely limited during this time, much of the pain usually subsides.
Stage III: Thawing
Perhaps the most mysterious thing about adhesive capsulitis is that after many months of severely limited movement in the shoulder, and progressive formation of connective tissue adhesions between the joint capsule and humeral head, the condition begins to resolve spontaneously. The joint capsule becomes free, pain is eradicated and movement is restored. This process may take a long time; a year or more is not unusual. If completely untreated, it is likely that range of motion at the shoulder joint may not be fully re-established, but the percentage of lost function (again, this is usually in internal rotation) is often not significant enough to warrant further interference. The goal of many treatment options is to ensure that when the adhesions begin to melt, the fullest possible range of motion is recovered.
At this time, no single factor has been identified as a direct cause of adhesive capsulitis. Certain statistical relationships have been traced, however, that raise interesting questions. People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing this problem than the general population. The same is true for people with chronic fatigue syndrome; people recovering from heart attacks or strokes; and people with hypo- or hyperthyroidism. Adhesive capsulitis has been investigated as an autoimmune disorder; however, while some immune cell abnormalities occasionally have been observed, this does not seem to be a universal situation. If there is a single reliable causative factor for adhesive capsulitis, it has yet to be identified.
Generally, adhesive capsulitis is diagnosed based on patient history and clinical tests. The end-feel of the joint is firm, but not as hard as joints with a bony end-feel. Its pattern of progression is predictable enough that it can be identified without a specific blood marker or diagnostic test. X-rays and MRIs may be conducted to rule out other possible scenarios (bone spurs, osteoarthritis, tumors, tuberculosis, etc.), but they are not diagnostic for frozen shoulder. Arthrograms (tests in which a contrast medium is injected into the joint space), give useful information; not only do they show where adhesions may have developed, they also reveal how much fluid the affected joint can accommodate. A healthy shoulder will accept 20-30 mL of dye for an arthrogram; a shoulder with adhesive capsulitis will only be able to take in 5-10mL.
The results of various treatment options for adhesive capsulitis are not exactly cause for celebration. Studies of various interventions show that while they may be successful at restoring full, or nearly full, range of motion, they may not shorten the process. Indeed, overly aggressive physical therapy and exercise, while being painful, also increase inflammation and prolong the freezing or frozen stages. Interventions for adhesive capsulitis typically start with NSAIDs or other anti-inflammatories, then progress to home exercises, physical therapy and perhaps surgery. Cortisone injections may be prescribed to limit inflammation, and allow for the possibility of manipulation under anesthesia to detach adhesive material. This treatment can improve range of motion if successful, but the possible complications are serious: fracture of the humerus; rupture of the joint capsule or subscapularis muscle; and neurovascular or cartilage injury. Surgery to mechanically separate adhesions also can improve ROM, but carries the risks associated with surgery, and significant postsurgical pain.
Can Massage Help?
As always, this is where things get interesting. Nothing in the literature suggests massage can directly affect any of the tissues in which pathological changes are taking place. After all, we can't friction the inside of a joint capsule to reduce adhesions. Furthermore, passive stretching, while important to reduce the risk of permanent loss of ROM, is painful and may exacerbate symptoms if overdone.
So, if you have a client in any stage of adhesive capsulitis, what are your options? A few readers sent me some interesting suggestions. All of them deal with the secondary restrictive effects of adhesive capsulitis, but that makes sense, since muscular restriction reinforces joint restriction, leading to the vicious "use it or lose it" cycle of immobilization.
Kathleen Beruman of Bar Harbor, Maine, wrote the following about working with a client diagnosed with adhesive capsulitis and chronic fatigue syndrome:
Terry Solomon of Los Angeles, Calif. contributed these suggestions:
While neither of these stories can function as a fully performed research project, they do point out the fact that just because the "common wisdom" about frozen shoulder predicts pain and limitation for one year or more, doesn't necessarily mean that's what a client has to endure. Thoughtful, educated, sensitive, imaginative massage therapists are finding ways to "break the rules" with intractable disorders all the time. If you're one of them, I hope you'll share your story with the rest of us.
The topic for my next column is again your choice. Would you like to read about severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) - the "new flu" that is spreading rapidly in Asia and somewhat more slowly in the U.S.; various types of depression; or something entirely different? Let me know what's on your table, so we can share it with everyone.
Until then, blessings,
Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB
Click here for previous articles by Ruth Werner, LMP, NCTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation President.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.