Frozen Shoulders...Can Aggressive Mobilizations be actually be making it Worse?

Reference:Diercks RL, Stevens M. Gentle thawing of the frozen shoulder: a prospective study of supervised neglect versus intensive physical therapy in seventy-seven patients with frozen shoulder syndrome followed up for two years. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2004 Sep-Oct;13(5):499-502.

Seventy-seven patients with idiopathic frozen shoulder syndrome were included in a prospective study to compare the effect of intensive passive stretching and manual mobilization versus supportive therapy and exercises within the pain limits.

There were no significant differences in age, sex, time elapsed since onset, and disease severity at inclusion. All patients were followed up for 24 months after the start of treatment.

In the patients treated with supervised neglect, 89% had normal or near-normal painless shoulder function at the end of 2 years. This end result was reached by 64% within 12 months.

In contrast, of the group receiving intensive physical therapy treatment, only 63% normal or near-normal painless shoulder function at the end of 2 years. This study strongly supports my personal hypothesis that re-assurance about the condition, encouragement to functionally use the arm and prescribing exercises within pain tolerance yields better outcomes than intensive passive stretching in patients with frozen shoulder.

In summary: Pushing and shoving on a frozen shoulder is not only always painful, it may in fact be DELAYING recovery!

Posted on: October 11, 2005

Categories: Shoulder

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