Category Archives: Frozen Shoulder

It has been an adventure

I know it has been a long while since I have updated you all on how my Frozen Shoulder was doing….

Today marks the 1st day in almost 12 years that I am no longer a Certified or Licensed Massage Therapist.

I made the decision not to renew my license this year and here is a timeline of events that led me to this decision…

In March of 2020 Covid closed down my place of business, in June of that year I developed frozen shoulder in my left shoulder, sometime shortly after that I was able to return to work briefly only to discover that I cannot wear a mask for prolonged periods of time without increasing my migraines.

By January of the following year, I was seeing great improvement in my left shoulder but was starting to notice discomfort in the right, by April that shoulder had frozen up just as I had regained almost full range of motion in the left shoulder.

I had also noticed during the time I was being treated for the left shoulder that the joints in the fingers on my left hand were inflamed and no longer had full ROM, I had assumed it was simply due to the frozen shoulder but today it is still painful to close my fingers on that hand.

In the time that I have been recovering from frozen shoulder syndrome (times two) I began to question just how long a person can safely practice massage without taking a toll on the body.

I remember hearing when I first came to the field of massage that 4 years is the average for “burn out” but I was thrilled when those years came and went, and I was still going strong. Well, the recent events have given me time to ponder this.

I recall telling another therapist who had also been in the field that I could no longer open jars, she too had been in the field ten years and was also unable to open a jar, she said her “gripper is broken.”

There is no doubt that damage had already started, but then add in other factors such as age, genetic predisposition to psoriatic arthritis, and family history of joint disorders I really had to ask myself if I could continue this as a career for much longer.

I do want to say this has been an amazing learning and healing experience for me and I cherish the memories of the many healing miracles that happened on my massage table as well as the many unique and rare skeletal and autoimmune disorders I have seen and learned more about over the years.

This experience has opened my eyes to the amazing healing abilities of the human body as well as the hidden ailments that the people around us are dealing with on a daily basis.

In future posts I will focus on some of the things I learned as a massage therapist and some of the conditions that I have seen and what those clients taught me about life and living with chronic conditions.

Until then, take care,

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Kristeen Smart

ps, yes, I am still certified in Reiki and EFT though I am not sure if I will follow that path in my future journey just yet, the future is unwritten.

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Frozen Shoulder & Massage

I Feared massage therapy

As you all know I am a massage therapist, you might assume that I would seek massage therapy and even recommend massage therapy for Frozen Shoulder Syndrome.

Here is why I did not initially seek massage therapy and what I would like other massage therapists to know and understand about this condition, especially in the early stages:

  • In the beginning the pain was excruciating and rotation of the arm was unbearable both actively and passively.
  • The muscles surrounding my shoulder, biceps, deltoid, scalenes, and even triceps were  frequently in spasm and painfully fighting every movement.
  • But most of all that I feared someone would move the arm beyond my comfort level and my comfort level was very limited at the time.

What I want massage therapist to know

The pain that I was experiencing in the beginning was not something that could be pushed past and I know from past experiences with many massage therapists that some believe in telling the client “but you need this.” That is exactly the type of thinking that scared me away from seeking massage therapy for my frozen shoulder.

From my personal experience and looking back on it now if I were to have come to you seeking treatment what I would have needed and wanted from you was simply to work on the muscles that were in constant spasm at the time but not to attempt to move my arm or rotate it at all because rotation at the time was unbearable.

About three months into my condition I was beginning to make some progress and perhaps with some massage on the muscles that were fighting me through this process I could have improved faster, but the fear of hearing “but you need this” and the shooting pains kept me guarded. I fully understand any client with frozen shoulder being guarded and fearful now.

Having experienced this first hand

My course of treatment for someone with this condition would be completely different than it would have been in the past. Now I would first begin with only massaging the muscles that are in spasm but no range of motion on the arm and shoulder at all,

I would also focus on the hand, wrist and elbow as all of these things are affected when the shoulder is impinged and often pain and numbness can radiate down to the hand, especially in the night.

As the client begins to improve and the spasms begin to lessen I would carefully and minimally work on some medial and lateral rotation of the shoulder as well as carefully support the arm off the side of the table (supine position) and gently lower it slowly ONLY to the point of discomfort and upward ONLY to the point of discomfort.

Focus the massage on the deltoids, pecs, scalenes, biceps, triceps, and traps. Do not forget that the other arm and shoulder has been working double time and is also in need of some TLC as is the neck from all the stress, tension and sleepless nights.

Six Months Later

It has been about six months since my Frozen Shoulder presented itself to me and I have been seeing a chiropractor regularly. I am now at a point where I would allow someone to work on my shoulder, but only someone that I trust. You as a massage therapist will need to earn the trust of your Frozen Shoulder Client.

That trust begins with not pushing your client past their level of tolerance. Pay close attention to their body language and breathing, if they are guarding and pulling away then you need to change your approach, go gentle with them until they are able to tolerate more, they will let you know what they can and cannot tolerate,

Believe me your client wants to heal from this but they fear the pain that they have been experiencing more than you can imagine and will avoid you if you put them back in that place that they are trying so hard to get out of.   Be a part of their recovery with compassion and empathy.

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Kristeen Anne Smart (formerly Kristeen Anne Kish)

CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist

 

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My Frozen Shoulder (Update)

Six months later…

So it has been about six months since my shoulder began to painfully freeze up on me and about three months since I wrote my last blog about my experience with Frozen Shoulder Syndrome. It is time to give you all an update on my personal journey with this condition.

I decided to go the route of Chiropractic

For me it was the most cost effective route and since I also suffer from migraines which seemed to worsen with the shoulder condition as my muscles were having a lot of spasms along the scalenes and shoulder.

I went twice a week and slowly, very slowly I started so see some tiny improvements such as being able to reach the second shelf of my cupboards. Eventually I could touch the rear view mirror of my car. The Chiropractor and I had agreed that if we were not seeing any improvements he would refer me out to a specialist.

If you research the cranial nerves you will discover that there is a cranial nerve that is associated with not only Frozen Shoulder but also Migraine Disorders and that was what we have been focusing on in our sessions, the Cervical Nerves 10 and 11 were and still are our main focus as my neck does not have full range of motion when turning to the left. I am currently still seeing the Chiropractor weekly.

What I can and Cannot Do

At this time, six months into this condition, I can now reach and adjust my rear view mirror, put my seatbelt on and take it off with that arm, lift the dumpster lid so that my good arm can put the trash in.

I can reach the third shelf of my cupboards, wash my hair and put it into a pony tail (with a bit of struggle,) and I can almost reach the higher shelves in the grocery stores.

I can turn on and off the lights when I leave the room without giving it a second thought, clean, do dishes, and vacuum. I can roll over in my sleep without pain, and I can sleep through the night!

I still cannot close my hatch back with that arm, or put my hand on my hip, I cant reach behind my back or wear a bra that hooks in the back.

My range of motion with the right arm is still very limited but I am pleased with the progress I have been making so far.

 

Yours in Health And Wellness,

Kristeen Anne Smart (Formerly Kristeen Anne Kish)

CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist

 

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My Frozen Shoulder Syndrome

Adhesive Capsulitis

That is the technical term for the condition and I have treated many people over the years who have come to me with this condition.

I even advised a friend of mine to seek professional treatment when he began complaining of shoulder pain one day and I observed his symptoms increasing to what I believed to be frozen shoulder, and I was correct in my assumption.

Fast forward to now and here I am a month and a half into my own frozen shoulder condition experiencing this first hand, and I would like to apologize to all of you for not fully comprehending exactly what you were experiencing.

While I do understand that this condition can range from mild to severe and that some people may or may not experience an extreme level of pain and discomfort for me this has caused many sleepless nights and times where I have bolted out of bed in excruciating pain and pressed my shoulder against a wall to make it stop.

I am pretty sure the neighbors have thought I was being beaten in the night with the sounds of me crying out in pain night after night.

Confusing Treatment Options

When you research Frozen Shoulder Syndrome you will discover that not only do they not know what causes it but they also do not agree on how best to treat the condition.

Some believe that you should begin physical therapy right away to avoid loss of range of motion, which has already been lost by the time you realize that you have the condition as I can no longer hook my bra or reach past the first shelf of my kitchen cabinets,

Others say that you should wait it out until the condition comes full circle and the shoulder will “thaw” on its own.

Apparently there is a third option where the doctor will put you under anesthesia and manually manipulate the joint capsule to free up any adhesion that may be causing the limited range of motion.

As for me…

Well, I had wanted to get treatment, but between insurance and prior authorizations things did not go as planned and I never got in for the MRI I tried to get, without it no one wanted to begin treatment so I have been slowly working on it myself as much as I can tolerate.

I have tried everything from self massage, self cupping, TENS units, topical analgesics, and anti-inflammatories to try and manage the pain and muscle spasms.

Currently I am at a point now where I am finally able to get a decent nights sleep and can do more activities of daily living with a bit less pain that I had been experiencing, such as putting on deodorant in the morning or washing and combing my hair.

It is funny how much we take our shoulders for granted until something like this happens, and once again I really want to apologize to my clients who have gone through this, I have gained a whole new level of understanding from this experience.

Those Cure Your Frozen Shoulder Videos…

Umm I watched a few of those, there is NO WAY that some of those people even had frozen shoulder syndrome to begin with, there is a difference between having frozen shoulder syndrome and having a pulled muscle or some other muscular issue that you could easily massage or stretch out and be all better in no time.

This condition is a process, it takes time to heal from this, unfortunately more time than I was hoping it would take. I will be honest, this is frustrating, and it has at times had in me tears feeling very sorry for myself and questioning my future as a massage therapist. It can make you feel like a total invalid when you cannot even pull your own pants up when you use the bathroom,

That being said I know that the body is amazing at healing itself when left to its own devices and when given the proper tools to do so. I have faith that if I don’t baby it, don’t over do it, get enough rest, and try to take care of myself things will work themselves out and I will be back to massaging soon.

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Kristeen Anne Smart (formerly Kristeen Anne Kish)

CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist

P.S. (is 2020 over yet?)

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