By Michaela Gibson Morris
Evelyn Laney of Nettleton struggled with pain from frozen shoulder syndrome for a decade.
“It would wake me up at night like a tooth ache,” said Laney, who is 71 years old.
Retired electrician Tom Osborne of Baldwyn gave up fishing and golfing after developing frozen shoulder in the aftermath of dislocating his shoulder six years ago.
“They told me nothing short of surgery would work,” Osborne said. The shoulder surgery would relieve the pain, but permanently limit the 65-year-old’s range of motion.
Both Laney and Osborne have regained range of motion and strength in their shoulders with a non-surgical Trigenics technique offered by Tupelo chiropractic neurologist Dr. Andy Barlow.
“I wouldn’t have been able to get back to canning and putting up vegetables,” Laney said.
Osborne, who had thrown away his golf clubs, has been back out on the links.
“I’m 10 or 12 years older (since he last played seriously) and I’ve only lost 25 yards on my golf ball,” Osborne said.
Frozen shoulder syndrome can cover a broad range of problems with the shoulder.
“It basically means ‘I can’t use my arm,’” Barlow said.
The Trigenics technique, developed by Canadian chiropractor and osteopathic physician Dr. Oolo Austin, involves manipulating the affected shoulder to break up scar tissue and reset the peripheral nervous system connection.
“You’re reconnecting the muscle spindles with the brain,” Barlow said.
Frozen shoulder is commonly associated with injuries or surgery, where the shoulder is immobilized during the healing process. It’s not clear why some people develop frozen shoulder and others don’t. It also can be connected to diabetes.
“Usually there’s some kind of trauma,” Barlow said. “People are going to move away from pain.”
The brain loses contact with the muscle from the disuse, Barlow said.
Standard treatment usually involves anti-inflammatory medications – both over-the-counter and prescription — steroid injections and physical therapy.
The condition affects about 2 percent of the population, typically more women than men. In most cases the condition runs its course over 12 to 18 months, with the shoulder slowly thawing.
But in some people, like Laney and Osborne, the condition doesn’t improve. Those folks have traditionally been treated with surgery.
To determine if shoulder patients would benefit from the Trigenics treatment, Barlow does a physical exam and X-rays as well as a 25-point exam to check muscle response.
The initial treatment is painful, but not so much that it requires sedation or pain medication. Barlow uses a cold laser to reduce inflammation before the procedure.
Barlow said his patients have seen great gains in range of motion after the first treatment. The normal course of treatment runs about 12 weeks. The first four weeks are focused on regaining range of motion in the shoulder. The remaining treatment focuses on regaining strength and function in the muscles.
Although people with severe adhesive capsulitis – where connective tissue and scar tissue have encapsulated the shoulder limiting movement – can be treated with the Trigencis procedure, Barlow can’t treat them in his clinic because they require numbing injections, which are outside his scope of practice as a chiropractor.
Tracking studies find that Trigenics patients retain the gains they’ve made during three months of treatment and generally don’t need to return for further treatment, Barlow said.
The procedure has been successful with patients with long-standing frozen shoulder problems, but patients don’t have to wait for years to be candidates for the treatment.
Ann Harlow, 66, of Amory became more active after getting chiropractic treatment for back issues. She injured her shoulder trying to get from a boat to a pontoon so she could keep fishing last September.
“I chipped the bone and damaged the rotator cuff,” Harlow said.
After the shoulder healed and she didn’t have full movement, she asked Barlow about the shoulder treatment. The treatments have returned her range of motion, eliminated the pain and let her get back to fishing, although Barlow has counseled her against overtaxing the shoulder.
“I was amazed,” Harlow said.