Last Updated on April 17, 2022
Update in 2022: It has been coming up to 5 years since I left my corporate job to become a full time caregiver. I do much more weight bearing movement, including lifting my mother during bed-wheelchair transfers single handedly. But strangely, the issue with painful neck and shoulder muscles that used to affect me during my corporate career are now almost non existent. Still, in the article below I would explore on the complimentary treatments you can take, as well as the mind body connection the the pain.
Frozen shoulder is a very painful condition. I’ve experienced it at one time, accompanied with neck pain and it literally placed daily activities….like carrying a shoulder/handbag, driving, bathing and working on a computer to be painful. At night, it is hard to sleep because of the pain.
If you have lower back pain, the pain can be relieved when you sit down or lie down. But with a frozen shoulder, there is literally no posture that can bring relief. Also, I could hardly exercise or stretch due to the sharp pain.
From my experience, alternative treatment works the best relieve frozen shoulder.
How I cured my frozen shoulders
At first, I went to clinic to consult with a doctor. The doctor gave me some muscle relaxant and pain killers. She also took the opportunity to get me to be screened for cholesterol as she said it could sometimes cause shoulder pain. My company did not cover the test so I had to pay for the test and the results came back that my cholesterol readings were normal.
There are 3 forms of treatment that can relief frozen shoulders:
- Chiropractic adjustments
- Wet acucupping/ bekam
- Bamboo stick beating (not by yourself but by someone who knows what he is doing)
Also take note of the mind-body connection – of what our frozen shoulder may be trying to tell us.
We shall go into each points as per below:
In the past, I do not really belief in chiropractor treatment. But when you have pain, you would be surprised at options you are willing to try to bring relief.
Desperate to relieve the pain to be able to function daily, while I wanted to look for a shoulder massage, I saw a Chiropractor clinic and went in. Seeing that there are many people visiting meant that the chiropractor must be effective so I registered and waited to be attended.
This particular chiropractor does not speak much. Each patient’s session with him take probably about 5 minutes- that is why I did not need to wait long. He asked me briefly what is wrong and proceeded with chiropractic manipulation. He pulled my neck- once to left and once to right, I heard a loud crack sound (and felt much more comfortable). Then followed by putting both my hands on my chest and he used his weight to press me down and I heard a click at my backbone. After that it was the spinal twist position where he also used his weight to press down on both left and right side.
After the treatment, my shoulder pain was reduced considerably. He asked me to come back in another 3 days. The pain became less and less. After about 4 treatments, the pain went off.
If I had see a normal doctor, what I get is painkillers and muscle relaxants. I had to pay for the cost of the chiropractor treatment from my own pocket as it was not covered under my company’s health benefits. But it was worth it as it got me pain free.
Wet Acucupping/ Bekam (Traditional Malay treatment)
About 6 months later, my shoulder and neck pain came back. By then, I have a Malay friend who told me about wet accucupping (bekam or hijama treatment) that had helped to relief the pain from an ankle injury which she had sustained years ago. I decided to give it a try and find it to be very effective.
You can read about my experience in seeking the treatment here.
There are 2 rounds of acucupping- the first is dry acucupping whereby the wind in the body are being sucked up. Then the person would make small little incisions with a special pen that contains fine needles before placing the acucups. Due to the vacuum created, the blood will ooze out.
This is something you should never try at home on your own without prior training. This is because if done incorrectly, it can cause to bleed. But if done correctly at specific points, it would cause toxins to be sucked out with the blood of course.
The lady who did the procedure for me told me that I had to watch my diet as I am having cholesterol. She could tell by the way the fluid build up in the cups. That time my blood test results were normal.
True enough, this year, my cholesterol reading is borderline and if I still do not watch my diet, I need to be on medication.
After the treatment, I felt lighter and my movement more nimble. She also told me I had a lot of ‘wind’ in my body.
Traditional Chinese treatment- beating with bamboo stick
Traditional Chinese treatment sometimes adopt drastic treatment to cure a condition. I have visited a practitioner in Singapore who always had a long list of client waiting at his apartment ….they wait to be beaten with a bamboo stick.
While waiting for your turn, you would squirm at your seat when you hear shouts of others who are undergoing treatment. I had a reader who went to seek out this man and it cured his frozen shoulders (you can read his story here). Previously he had spent a lot of money at many places without any relief.
However, this practitioner had already retired but there are still others who do similar treatments whereby they literally beat off the blockages with a cane or bamboo stick. Note: Do not try this at home because if done wrongly, it can lead to injury.
Mind body connection to frozen shoulders
From the book, Slow Medicine written by Michael Finkelstein, MD, he mentioned a part on frozen shoulder:
“But not amount of treatment targeted at your frozen shoulder will properly heal you if you don’t unfreeze those other aspects of your life situation that might lie behind that specific body part’s immobility. Are you feeling stuck at work? Are you trying unsuccessfully to move away from a relationship? Are your feelings about a given painful situation at a standstill?
Slow Medicine- Chapter on Connecting with Nature pg 92
His way of writing can be straightforward but I find the book insightful.
A person who has to carry a lot of burden or have many people under his/her care may suffer from frozen shoulders. Previously in my job, I had to ‘shoulder’ a lot of responsibilities. A lot of people rely in input and communication from me in order to be able to do their work. I was stuck and it was hard to find anyone else who were willing to help or do the work that I do. Sometimes it gets hard to bear – at that point that was nothing I could do about it accept to toughen up and keep going.
Even though I had suspected the pain was somehow related to the responsibilities that I had to carry, it was still a choice I had made. I could have chosen to be a buck passer of trying to pass the buck around but I felt sorry for the many people who needed help and were trying to do their job. I had been in their shoes and know how they feel- also, when I was in their shoes I did make a promise to myself that one day if I am in a position to help, I will not forsake others. Becareful of what you wish for because it may just come true 😉
My painful shoulders which got relieved after the first chiropractor treatment came back after a few months. However, it was not so painful as the first time as by then I had made peace with myself and saw my work as a cause and not merely for the money.
Still, my recurring shoulders issue and neck pain went off after I left my job in May.
Therefore, if the frozen shoulder/shoulder pain and even neck pain seems to be recurring for you…. you may want look into areas of your life ….on the responsibilities and ‘burdens’ that you are ‘shouldering’ with ‘pain’ and see if there are things that requires rectification. Probably only but resolving the issue that is troubling you, that you would be able to find a permanent relief from that painful shoulders.
Even if you could not remove the weight that you need to carry, you can also consider changing the perspective of how you view the issue. Sometimes it is a burden because we viewed it as such but it need not be.