Diabetes and Frozen Shoulder

Ann Bartlett Health Guide
  • A year ago, I was walking my two dogs at the beach when one lurched in one direction and other decided to swing around behind me to catch up to the other.  The result was one heck of a sore shoulder!  For nearly 2 weeks I had trouble moving my shoulder without pain and I had many people telling me I had torn the rotator cuff and I was doomed for surgery. 


    Unlike myself, I let it sit and I took time off and then went back to doing yoga and activities that I normally do and just favored it, when it would speak to me. A year later, I found myself suffering elbow pain when I would massage my clients and physical weakening to the point I gave up many poses in yoga due to no strength and continued limited range of motion.  Finally, a month ago I was looking at my shoulders in a mirror and I could see a structural change to my left shoulder, which is my dominant arm.  Movement had become so impinged that I was compensating in ways that were not healthy long term for my body and shoulder.  I showed my business partner and Rolfer, Cosper Scafidi, my upper body and he jump with alarm at the condition my shoulder.  I was showing classic signs of adhesion encapsulated shoulder or frozen shoulder.

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    Frozen shoulder is the result of an injury in the joint where the head of the humerus, or upper arm, fits into the socket of the shoulder.  The ligaments that support the capsule become inflamed and cause pain, stiffness and limited motion.  Frozen shoulder seems more common in women and people living with diabetes and generally more cases appear in ages 40 and older. 


    I quickly got a prescription for PT and booked an appointment.  I booked a Rolfing session with Cosper, and added one appointment a week for deep tissue massage, acupuncture and chiropractic. No wasting time, I want to be active and need my shoulder to do it!


    The first week was torture!  The physical therapist immediately started to work at stretching out the ligaments that were now glued to the socket and forcibly open the range of motion. Next day I saw Cosper for Rolfing.  Rolfing is a different type of bodywork.  Rolfing is often referred to a "structural integration". It works to realign the connective tissue, or the fascia, of the body.


    Cosper has been Rolfing for 28 years and I love to watch him work on the intricacy of the body and it's sticky wrapping called fascia. Rolfers start by looking at the pull of the skin.  In other words, if you have a frozen shoulder, the skin on my back, arm and chest pulls upward toward the injury and therefore throws the body's structure, the bones and ligaments, out of proper alignment.  From the back, my left shoulder blade was higher than my right.  My left shoulder joint also tipped forward, looking like I was slouching. My hour of Rolfing was not quiet!!  I winced in pain and sweated as he drove his fingers through scar tissue to get the capsule, or joint to move. 


    Two days later, I had my appointment with Njemile for acupuncture and Dr. Henderson to follow for ART and chiropractic.  Njemile used Chinese soupspoons to scrap the skin.  This technique is called Gwa Sha or Gua Sha, and is used for pain and stiffness among other things, and then needled the meridians affected by the injury down the length of my arm.


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    For the first time in months, I was sleeping without radiating pain!  But by the time I got to my massage therapy appointment I looked like I had been in one heck of fight!  I had bruising from the gua sha, clear finger grooves from Rolfing, but the shoulder had begun to awkwardly move, cracking and grinding the adhesions and breaking them up as worked at moving the joint!  Heidi asked what she could do for me and I told her "knock me out", I was so sore! She got in and worked in the arm pit to help stretch the healthy tissues that were affected by all the pulling and up into the occipitals of the head to help with the tension of the muscles. 


    After just two weeks, I have 95% range of motion in 2 directions  and have begun suing hand weights to rebuild strength in the joint. I have 2 more directions to work on, which I feel are going be the hardest as this is where the injury occurred. 


    What I did was wrong.  I let unqualified people influence my usual proactive approach to healing my body and it snow balled into a much bigger problem.  Now I'm paying for it with much discomfort!! The good news is I am committed to work through this no matter how painful.  I will also try Bowen Therapy and as a last result anesthesia and let them rip the capsule loose... not my preference!  Below are a few links to sites that may be of interest should you fall into the trap of procrastination.  I highly recommend getting out of it and living life like it matters:















Published On: July 21, 2008