Dr. Shaden Ghattas Health Tips

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“Is it my neck or my shoulder?” It is often hard to tell….

Shoulder Diagram

We recently had a patient seen here today, she is a 52 y/o female. she’s actually a teacher, she’s been super stressed out about going back to school. So stress levels are super high, anxiety is super high. She has also had some issues with parents getting sick.

So she came to me with what seemed like a general shoulder strain. She had been complaining of left sided neck pain along with some shoulder pain. She was saying that just recently it’s become hard to reach behind her back for the seatbelt. She actually has stopped getting her seatbelt from the left side and she actually had to use her right arm to pull the seat belt across. She lost some mobility, she has a ton of pain. She’s coming in to see us without seeing an orthopedist just to see what we think.

After a very thorough examination, I’ve determined that she had a very very stiff neck, stiff joint, muscles in spasm all along the neck and we discovered that the left shoulder has adhesive capsulitis. Her main concern is whether this will get better and how soon.

First I ensured her that this is something that we see all the time and that’s definitely going to get better and it’s actually an infliction of an overactive woman in her early fifties. She’s actually a very typical person who’ll get something like this. So we talked through the anatomy and physiology behind this problem. And how the shoulder is a ball and socket joint and that the joint is covered with what is called a capsule. The frozen shoulder in medical terms is called adhesive capsulitis, which means an inflammation and adhesion in the capsule of the shoulder. Which makes it very difficult to move. So that’s what she’s dealing with now.

She had her first treatment of physical therapy with a very thorough exam and we broke up all the adhesions in the neck, we worked on adhesions in her shoulder, did a lot of mobility hands-on treatment for the shoulder and now she is working on home exercise to regain her mobility as well.

After session one, I’m happy to report that she has less pain and even a little bit better mobility. She’s feeling encouraged and still a little bit nervous about how long this is going to take. And I have to say that a typical frozen shoulder could take about 6-12 months, sometimes even 18 months. But we are all feeling very encouraged and she is on her way to recovery.

We see people all the time who aren’t sure if their neck or their shoulder is the root cause of the problem in this patient’s case it was her shoulder (frozen shoulder) that was the main problem and her neck was reacting to all the pain with additional pain and spasm. If you have neck or shoulder pain, don’t wait too long to get help!

Physical Therapy that is done with hands on treatment is a great solution in this case and many other cases. At Universus Physical Therapy you are not just treated like a number, you are with a doctor of physical therapy for 45 minutes in a private treatment room, where you will receive hands on treatment- massage, stretches, guided and progressive exercises. You will receive the exactly the right exercises for you and your program will be re-assessed every 10th visit.

Be well and stay strong!!

Dr. Shaden Ghattas, PT

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