A Therapist's Testimonial for treating Frozen Shoulder
To begin I should explain that I am a treatment orientated soft tissue therapist, meaning that 99 percent of work in my clinic is directed at the assessment and treatment of various musculoskeletal dysfunction via soft tissue therapy. I pride myself on knowing my scope of practice; I often refer my clients and athletes to other allied health specialists, such as physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors and sports doctors.
I’m driven by results on and off the table. My background comes from the sports medicine framework in treating musculoskeletal dysfunction, so when working in this arena I align myself with therapy that consistently provides positive outcomes. In my 25 years of professional practice, I’ve been exposed to a range of techniques and concepts, so I can say that I’m quite sceptical when it comes to the “next big thing”.
I have been lucky enough to pick up gems (tricks of the trade so to speak) from other practitioners and educators and the rest from my own trial and error. However, this time was different.
The experience I’m sharing with you in this article is unique as it was a client that exposed me to a new direction of treatment.
A 45-year-old female came to me for assessment and treatment for an ongoing shoulder condition she had been suffering with for 2 months. It had started insidiously, with no obvious inciting injury or trauma. After visiting several other practitioners and trying many treatments – often with either little change and aggravation of the symptoms – one of my existing clients referred her to me.
This is not uncommon; many people come to see me for help with their pain and dysfunction. I offer direction and advice based on my experience and knowledge. I help them if I can, or refer them to other practitioners better suited to their individual needs.
After assessing her signs and symptoms and after conducting Rom testing I determined that this woman was suffering classic frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis), Phase 2. The symptoms included classic night pain, global restriction in all AROM of the GH joint, PROM also confirmed with restriction.
At that stage of my career, my understanding and treatment protocols for treating Frozen Shoulder was limited. I must admit I dreaded the Frozen Shoulder (FS) walking through the clinic doors due to the frustrating inability to treat the condition with any therapeutic benefit. In fact, in some cases, I would simply aggravate it. I had explained the nature of the condition to the client and expressed reservations in my ability to provide a significant change to her condition.
My options were undertaking the 3-treatment rule, with change assessed by a reduction in frequency, duration, and intensity of the pain and an increase in ROM. If no change resulted I would refer her to a doctor for possible hydrodilation.
After the first treatment, she returned to me excited and enthusiastic with some information about a hands-on technique specifically designed to treat the FS condition THAT SHE HAD FOUND FROM SEARCHING ON THE INTERNET. This was my introduction to the Niel Asher Technique (NAT) for Frozen Shoulder.
I spent the next week conversing with the people from Niel Asher, www.frozenshoulder.com and enrolled myself in the technique, learning and reading as much as I could about the technique. At that time, I was still a sceptic as to its benefits, but that’s me; I have to live and breathe it and have my own epiphany. I thought that, at best, it could provide me with a better option hands-on wise than I had currently been using.
I applied the technique in a textbook fashion: I assessed her as a lateral Frozen Shoulder condition according to the NAT guidelines and treated the specific trigger points over a series of consultations. Low and behold, she began to improve.
The first change was a dramatic change in the ongoing pain levels, especially night pain. She came in after four sessions and said that the night pain had completely subsided. To hear such results was amazing; I was as euphoric as she was!
Next came increases in the AROM, and the following treatments saw continued improvements, it was like the shoulder was literally defrosting. I couldn’t believe it, each treatment better than the next. I must admit we were both were thrilled with the outcomes.
The NAT gave me exactly what I needed: I got my first epiphany and became convinced it could provide a significant treatment protocol for Frozen Shoulder.
I have been using the technique since 2008 and I now welcome new Frozen Shoulder clients. It’s provided consistent and highly effective changes for the vast majority of my clients.
I also didn’t realise the dramatic benefits to my business the NAT would provide. Word of mouth spread and I became inundated with Frozen Shoulder clients, as this became a niche market. In many cases, I would be treating the Frozen Shoulder clients for at least ten treatments per condition and could be treating up to ten Frozen Shoulder clients a week or more. Clearly, there were many other practitioners out there like me who dreaded treating Frozen Shoulder!
My journey with this technique does not end here – it has inspired me to develop a hip treatment rationale based on the NAT, on the basis of reciprocal inhibition and treatment of chronic altered movement patterns. It’s also a big part of why I do what I do: so that I can share my experience and knowledge with other practitioners.
It’s a simple goal and one that’s at the heart of everything I do: to help you be awesome at what you do!