Frozen Shoulder is a painful condition, and previously, the ways to treat it have been ineffective. However, a groundbreaking study by physician Håkan Borg in collaboration with Atlasbalans is about to change this.

What is a Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen Shoulder, or Adhesive Capsulitis, is a shoulder condition that causes stiffness and pain in the shoulder. The stiffness makes it difficult to raise and move the shoulder. The symptoms occur spontaneously. The connective tissue, or the fascia, encapsuling the shoulder joint becomes tighter and thicker, restricting movement.

The symptoms develop over several months, usually becoming worse as time passes. Eventually, the shoulder can heal itself, but can take a considerable amount of time. Usually the self-healing process takes anywhere from 2 to 3 years. However, it is not uncommon for some of the pain and stiffness to remain, but it rarely affects everyday life.

Currently, it is unclear what causes a Frozen Shoulder, but there are several indicators that make it more likely. These include diabetes, recovery from a surgery that prohibits movements in the shoulder area, and recovery from a medical condition such as a stroke. Frozen Shoulder is most common in people over 40 years of age, and it is more common in women. In Sweden, annually over 46000 people receive a Frozen Shoulder diagnosis. However, many cases remain undiagnosed.

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Current treatment methods

There are several methods that are currently used to treat the symptoms of a Frozen Shoulder:

  • Pain medication
  • Ice
  • Manual physical therapy
  • Exercise
  • Surgery

However, current treatment methods are not effective in curing the condition. They can help with the symptoms, but the condition still lingers for extended periods of time, causing the patients pain and discomfort.

Swedish Fascia Vibes for treating Frozen Shoulder

The Swedish Fascia Vibes treatment uses vibrating devices produced by Atlasbalans. The devices create vibrations varying between 400-1200 pulsations per minute, causing movement in the fascia tissue of the body, leading to a healing effect. The vibration  waves spread over large areas, both deep and wide, which increases relaxation, circulation and fluid flow.

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The study: Swedish Fascia for Vibes Frozen Shoulder treatment

A pilot study by Håkan Borg, Physician ENT-specialist, Hans Bohlin and Axel Bohlin, Atlasbalans AB. Approved by the Ethical Review Board of Stockholm, spring 2018.

AIM

Current FS treatment methods (cortisone, NSAID physiotherapy, and other manual treatments), have a limited positive effec. By using Swedish Fascia Vibes treatment, Atlasbalans has successfully improved the mobility and relaxation for around 50 patients with Frozen Shoulder.

In the spring of 2018, a pilot study by Physician Håkan Borg and Atlasbalans was initiated to investigate whether the Swedish Fascia Vibes treatment may have a positive effect for patients with observed Frozen Shoulder and whether the effect is long-term.

The secondary purpose of the study was to investigate whether thermography (thermal cameras) could be an instrument to determine whether inflammation in tissue and joint capsules associated with FS can be measured in temperature differences. Thermography also contributes to the anonymization of imagery. The study is approved by the Ethical Review Board of Stockholm.

METHOD

Five patients with observed Frozen Shoulder, all women, aged 41, 42, 51, 52 and 57, volunteered to participate in the pilot study. The mobility was documented before and after treatment in eight positions with thermographic photography using the FLIR T540 thermal camera.

A clear difference between movement in the left and right shoulder was noted on all patients. Notably, the thermographic images showed that the neck was much warmer than the other parts of the back in three out of five patients.

Swedish Fascia Vibes is a deep massage with a treatment machine using vibrations created by an electronic motor. Treatment of the neck, back and arm was performed with two machines for approximately 30 minutes in areas marked in Figure 3.

FINDINGS

Two patients received full mobility after the first treatment. All patients received increased mobility of 45 to 90 degrees. The concentration of heat in the neck area noted in three patients disappeared in all cases after treatment. The result indicates that there may be a correlation between inflammation in the tissue and pain, as demonstrated in previous studies (Gordh et al 2011, Mense et al., 2015, & Wilke et al. 2017).

The result of the pilot study indicates that massage with Swedish Fascia Vibes could be an effective treatment for patients with Frozen Shoulder. All patients reported that they experienced reduced pain, increased mobility and relaxation.

CONCLUSION

The result of this pilot study shows that Swedish Fascia Vibes may be an alternative treatment for patients with Frozen Shoulder. The study also shows that thermography could be a way to explore the connection between inflamed tissue and pain. Borg and Atlasbalans intends to carry out a continuation study with increased patient support for power calculation / statistical processing that can form the basis for a new conceivable healthcare process.

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Why is this so important?

As there have been no effective treatments for the Frozen Shoulder before, the new treatment method is a groundbreaking step towards the right direction. As described by Håkan Borg, Atlasbalans has succesfully treated over 50 patients with Frozen Shoulder, and as described in his study, the effects are consistent and fast.

This study has several important implications. Many different groups of people are affected directly and indirectly by Frozen Shoulder:

Patients

Patients suffering from a Frozen Shoulder can finally cure the condition quickly, without having to suffer from it for years.

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Manual therapists

Manual therapists can finally cure the condition which has been very difficult to cure before. Manual therapists have only been able to help with the symptoms before this treatment.

Doctors

Doctors who diagnose the Frozen Shoulder on a patient can send the patient to a therapist who can help with the condition, thus saving time, money, and helping the patient much faster than before.

Insurance companies

As with any condition, the Frozen Shoulder can be expensive for an insurance company, as they can be responsible for several different expenses related to doctor visits and rehabilitation.