Frozen Shoulder & Menopause: The not-so Dynamic Duo!

Are you currently in a living nightmare where a stiff and painful shoulder appeared out of nowhere and is now haunting your every move?  Where throwing a bag on your shoulder is not the carefree action it once was, undoing your bra means you hoiking it around to the front, and where putting on your jacket feels like you’re having to dress a child?

Then you are most likely in the throws of frozen shoulder, a common (and hellish) condition that often appears out of nowhere and can hang around for anything up to 4 years. Frustratingly, while it’s known the pain and stiffness comes from inflammation around the shoulder joint, it’s not known what causes it, or why women over 40 are more at risk than men from frozen shoulder. Is there a connection to menopause, you ask? Well, it really depends on which came first. The chicken or the egg...

  • Hormones:Oestrogen drops during the menopause, & one of its roles is in muscle mass & tendon & ligament flexibility, so menopause could be a factor in stiffness & inflammation.But age is factor in joint & muscular aches & pains. How do we know which comes first?
  • A vicious pain / sleep cycle: Menopause can disrupt sleep, and lack of sleep can increase inflammation & heighten pain sensitivity. But pain also causes lack of sleep, which means you can’t heal & repair & the pain continues. So where does the cycle start with frozen shoulder?

The jury is definitely still out. While women suffer from frozen shoulder more than men, this only suggests it might be hormonally driven, and so sadly there’s no firm evidence to say menopause is the cause.

Just as sadly, no definitive cause means no definitive cure. But there are things you can do that might help with the pain & inflammation:

  • Ask to see your GP to confirm a frozen shoulder and to discuss pain management options.
  • Because food intolerances and sugar can trigger / worsen inflammation in the body you could explore your diet with a professional (I found cutting out sugar really helped me).
  • See a physio for gentle exercises to keep your shoulder moving.
  • Holistic therapies that use supported stretches & guided joint mobilisation might help to keep your shoulder moving (I've been using Bowen and Thai Stretch Massage).
  • Holistic therapies can also provide you with the time to rest, relax and repair, and may even help improve your sleep, improve your mood and your general sense of health and wellbeing.
  • And while I know it’s no consolation, if non of this works the NHS suggests you might just need to give it time.  Because the simple truth is the pain and stiffness of a frozen shoulder should go away - eventually.

Let me know if you need help finding a physio or someone to help you with food intolerances / diet, or if you'd like some suggestions about holistic therapies you could try.

Always here, Sarah

©2021 Sarah Woodhouse

Hurry Up Harry Ltd. Trading as Sarah Woodhouse Therapy. Registered in England.  Company No: 08796136.  Registered Office: Eldo House, Kempson Way, Bury St Edmunds, IP32 7AR

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