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  • What would YOU DO with a Frozen Shoulder?

    In October, 2015 I taught an SMRT course in Chapel Hill, NC. There were two students who had taken our classes the year before, friends who came to class together, who began to talk to me during a break. Laurie said, “what would you do for frozen shoulder?” It was the third time she had asked me this question. Both of the other times I was moving to help someone in class and had given a brief answer. I said, “I would assess where the actual issue was in the glenohumeral joint and work with it.” She said, “yeah, but what would you DO for frozen shoulder?” I wasn’t understanding her question. I repeated my answer, adding “a diagnosis of frozen shoulder does not tell us where the actual issue is, it just means the shoulder has limited range of motion.”

    She said, “ok, but what would YOU DO…” she moved her head toward her friend, Alix, “….for frozen shoulder?” She moved her head toward Alix again. Finally I got it. “Oh, you’re having frozen shoulder?” I said to Alix. We were all laughing now. Alix explained that she had reached into her clothes dryer several months before, had felt a pain in her left shoulder, and it had hardly moved since. She could not lift it more than inch into abduction. Her arm also would only move three inches into flexion and about the same distance into extension.

    I assessed her shoulder for 10 seconds, reached down and took her upper arm in my hand, moved into a SMRT position designed for her shoulder, and held the position. While I was doing this I was describing to both Laurie and Alix what I felt in Alix’s shoulder and how Laurie could work with it in the future. When I released, I reassessed, and did one more SMRT move. Alix then moved her arm in all directions, stating that the frozen shoulder felt 80% alleviated.

    This past weekend I was in Raleigh, NC teaching and they were both in class. Apparently, Alix’s shoulder regained complete range of motion after those two SMRT moves, Laurie never had to work on it, and a year later it was still “perfectly fine.” Alix had not had an issue with it since. All of the basic SMRT positions taught in SMRT: Shoulder, Axilla, Ribcage, & Upper Back are effective in relieving frozen shoulder.