Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis is a common condition where the shoulder becomes painful to move for no apparent reason and can last years. Suddenly, simple things like brushing your hair, doing up your bra or other household chores become impossible.
Although the condition affects around two million - mostly women between the ages of 40 and 60 - doctors still know little about it and often don’t refer patients soon enough for treatment.
Two years ago, UK journalist Vivenne Parry wrote about her experience in the Daily Mirror. She described: "The slightest knock to my arm would set off an intense spasm in my shoulder that hurt so much it made me feel sick. I became sleep deprived, as the pain was much worse at night, and my shoulder just didn’t want to move as it should. It was incredibly stiff and getting my jacket on became increasingly difficult.
"Soon, I could hardly raise my arm at all. I couldn’t dress without help or even put a phone to my ear. Worst of all for me, I could no longer garden or swim."
Frozen shoulder occurs when the joint capsule becomes thickened and inflamed. This causes the space inside to shrink, restricting movement in the joint and causing pain. This capsule also contains lubricating fluid to enable bones in the joint to slide smoothly over each other. In frozen shoulder, the amount of lubricating fluid reduces by a third, which further restricts mobility and increases pain. The inflammation can cause thick bands of scar tissue to form within the joint, also hampering movement.
The initial trigger for this inflammation is still unknown. As more women are affected, and most have recently gone through the menopause, some experts say changing levels of hormones may be to blame. However, women who go through early menopause do not seem to develop it at an earlier age.
There is also a range of other conditions that make it more likely, including under and overactive thyroid, heart problems, diabetes and previous injury to the shoulder. Poor posture, particularly round-shouldered hunching, is also thought to increase the risk, and genetics may play a role.
Once you’ve had the condition in one shoulder, you almost never get it there again — but there is about a 10 per cent risk that you will get it in the other shoulder. Frozen shoulder can cause severe pain and loss of movement for up to 3 years. After this time, it often gets better of its own accord but as osteopaths, we say to get it treated as soon as possible. When your shoulder is stiff and painful, other parts of your body have to compensate and it can throw everything else out of whack.
Steroid and saline injections have been shown to be effective in the short term, but these must be delivered at specific points in the joint, and studies suggest if they are not done under X-ray guidance, 70 per cent will miss their target.
You can also do simple exercises at home, in conjunction with treatment, to speed up your recovery.
Dr Andrew Weil (above) is a pioneer of fusing western medical science with ancient traditions of mindfulness and meditation. In this video, he explains and demonstrates "The Relaxing Breath", which has its roots in pranayama, a type of breathing used by yoga practitioners.
The gist is this: Place your tongue against your top teeth and the roof of your mouth. Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts, hold for 7 and breath out through your mouth for 8, making a whooshing noise. This is 1 cycle, Don't do more than 4 breath cycles when you're trying this out for the first time as changing the way you breathe (by breathing more deeply) can make you dizzy. Dr Weil stresses that it is important to make it into a habit, so do 4 breath cycles twice a day for a month.
Holding your breath in this sequence allows oxygen to fill your lungs and then circulate throughout the body. It is this that produces a relaxing effect in the body and is “a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system,” according to Dr Weil.
And the possibilities are endless. If you do it religiously for 2 months. it will start lowering your heart rate and blood pressure even while you are not doing the breathing technique. Dr Weil says you can also use it in emotional situations or during cravings for food or nicotine. He said: "Once you finish 4 cycles, the craving will have passed."
Some internet users found this breathing technique helped them to falls asleep in under 60 seconds, while others found it has helped with dealing with anxiety.
After a few months, once you've got the hang of it, you can increase it to 8 breath cycles.
World-renowned scientist Stephen Hawking is known for providing us with complex yet invaluable insights into space, time, and the nitty-gritty of theoretical physics. However, in a recent talk, the iconic physicist gave a poignant message to people suffering from depression, making a poetic comparison between depression and a black hole.
Prof Hawking said: “The message of this lecture is that black holes ain't as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought.
“Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly to another universe. So if you feel you are in a black hole, don't give up – there's a way out.”
He gave the speech in front of a crowd of over 400 people on January 7 this year, as part of the Reith lecture at the Royal Institute in London. Prof Hawking, who turned 74 the day after the lecture, has lived with motor neuron disease for almost 53 years – despite being told he had just two years to live when diagnosed in 1963.
Speaking to the same audience, his daughter Lucy noted Hawking’s incredible mental fitness – both intellectually and emotionally. She said: “He has a very enviable wish to keep going and the ability to summon all his reserves, all his energy, all his mental focus and press them all into that goal of keeping going.
“But not just to keep going for the purposes of survival but to transcend this by producing extraordinary work – writing books, giving lectures, inspiring other people with neurodegenerative and other disabilities.”
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last 5 years, you've probably seen, heard or eaten chia seed. Chia seed is an ancient Mayan and Aztec superfood and is enjoying a renaissance in food circles right now.
Its benefits include
this should have formed a gel or thick goo which you can drink first thing in the morning to gently "scrub" your gut. Alternatively, soak chia seeds together with oats and apple juice to make a bircher muesli base. You can add in fresh fruit or nuts/seeds when serving.
If you eat chia seeds that haven't been pre-soaked, be sure to have an extra glass of water. Otherwise, the chia will absorb the water in your intestine and give you bloating or constipation instead!
If you still need convincing, how about this recipe - dreamy chocolate chia pudding?
Author: Minimalist Baker
Recipe type: Dessert, Breakfast
Cuisine: Gluten-free, vegan friendly
Katy was planning a natural delivery but when an ultrasound suggested her baby could weigh up to 5.2kg, her doctors advised her to have a cesarean section. At the birth of her son Sam, everyone was surprised, he clocked just 3.2kg on the scales, Her doctors were so surprised that they weighed him twice to make sure it was no mistake.
Katy, now 37, told The New York Times she now sees the surgery as unnecessary and claims it caused Sam to have breathing troubles at birth, a complication more common in c-section babies. Katy is not alone. Research has shown that only 1 in 5 US women who were told that their babies might be getting quite large actually delivered infants weighing more than 4kg (the medical definition of a large baby).
However, mothers who believed they were having a large baby were 5 times more likely to ask for a cesarean. They were also twice as likely to have other interventions like a medical induction.
Telling mothers their baby will be large "has a profound effect, and contributes to undermining women's confidence they can deliver the baby," said Dr Eugene Declercq, one of the authors of the paper, published in Maternal and Child Health Journal last month. In both the US and Australia, nearly 1 in 3 babies are born by c-section.
The 2014 guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists urge caution in the use of ultrasounds to estimate fetal weight, as scans can be imprecise during the 3rd trimester. Dr Aaron Caughey, who helped develop the guidelines, said he has seen many doctors offer a c-section even when the estimated birth weight is under 4 kg.
While it is important for doctors to share information with their patients, Dr Caughey says the mere act of offering a c-section influences women's decisions. "If you are offering something that isn't normally provided, you are somehow saying that this is a pretty good option," he said.
There are real dangers in natural or vaginal births if the baby is large. There is a risk of the head emerging but the shoulders getting stuck, and this can result in nerve damage to the baby's arms. However, c-sections are also associated with increased risks, longer recovery time for the mother and can limit her future childbirth options.
If you want to find out more, childbirth connection has a wide range of topics concerning birth, or you can speak to a doula or go to some really awesome birth classes (online or in person).
Warning: This post contains illustrations of breast-feeding.
Most new parents have no idea what tongue-tie is. Known as ankyloglossia, it is where the tongue has an extra bit of skin and is unable to touch the roof of the mouth during rest or swallowing. It occurs in 5 % of the population, is more common in males than females, and can run in families.
There are degrees of severity, so some babies are able to attach to the breast and suck well despite a tongue-tie . However, many will have breastfeeding problems (sometimes from birth, sometimes from 2 or 3 weeks) due to poor latch. Here are some of the signs:
In a baby with tongue-tie (right), the tongue is anchored down by the extra skin and can't form a tight seal against the nipple. It also can't perform the smooth, circular action to extract breast milk.
It may contribute to an abnormal tongue-resting posture (low and forward), and an abnormal swallowing pattern (tongue thrust). The entire body will then begin to accommodate to this incorrect tongue-resting posture, contributing to changes in the growth of the face, forward head posture, mouth breathing and sleep apnoea.
If untreated as a baby, it can go on to alter speech. Affected adults and children will often try to speak with a small mouth opening, slowly or softly so that they can pronounce specific consonants.
According to the Australian Breastfeeding Association, your baby may have a tongue-tie if:
As osteopaths, we can identify any neck or facial asymmetry in babies, treat any symptoms of colic or gastrointestinal discomfort and recommend a referral to a lactation consultant if we suspect a tongue-tie.
Once diagnosed, the tongue-tie is snipped without anaesthetic in a quick procedure. Breastfeeding may improve immediately or it may take 2 weeks for the baby to relearn feeding technique.
The truth is, we’re not very good listeners; we don’t know (and are not taught) how to listen to each other, at least not in a manner that truly nourishes us on a deep and spiritual level, and makes us feel heard, understood, or loved, says Nancy Colier, at website Psychology Today. This is a summary of her post:
If there is one ingredient that determines whether or not a relationship will be successful, that ingredient is listening—the degree to which each partner feels listened to and truly known. Couples that can listen to each other in a satisfying way usually succeed, while those that can’t usually fail. Ultimately, we can only feel loved to the degree that we feel listened to.
I recently had a session with "Jon" and "Joan" (not their real names). Joan began by saying that she felt her experience could never be “just heard” by Jon—listened to and absorbed, without any interpretation, solution, judgment, defense or attack. She described how Jon was unable to hold a space for or really be with what she was living—without doing something with it or to it. Jon responded that holding a space for her feelings was not something that should be expected of him. Her request was unreasonable in his eyes, because a husband should not have to sit by silently and listen to what his wife is not receiving in the relationship—not without speaking up for himself, expressing his opinion, and providing some explanation.
He then told his wife that what she really wanted (whether she knew it or not) was to control the relationship and him, as she "always did." Joan, without responding to his interpretation, repeated the same yearning—to be listened to with simple openness and non-judgment. Jon responded to this second attempt by telling Joan that her experience was false, that he did in fact listen to and hear her, even if she couldn’t feel it, and that she should examine why she couldn’t feel his kindness and interest. Joan then repeated her longing one more time, almost verbatim. This time Jon’s response was to express how totally alone he feels in the relationship, and how Joan has no interest in hearing what is truly important to him.
What happened between Joan and Jon is not gender specific nor is it specific to romantic relationships. What this couple demonstrated is a human problem: We constantly reject each other’s experience. It’s what we are taught to do. Listening to Joan that day, I felt as if I were watching an airplane desperately trying to find a place to land. Rejected by all control towers, her experience was to be left floating, unheard, unloved, with nowhere to touch down, nowhere to be welcomed home, no place to just be.
The problem, really, is that what we are asking for is not what we actually want, but rather what we have been conditioned to believe we are allowed to ask for. We don’t really long for anything to be done with or about our experience. We have probably already been inundated with countless well-intentioned and wise suggestions, from others and ourselves, on what we should do about our experience, and why we are having it. Really, we just want our experience to be heard, listened to, understood, and cared about. We want someone to know how it is for us in this moment, in this life, and to keep us company in our experience—exactly as it is.
The hardest thing in the world (or one of them anyway) is to listen to someone we care about (and even someone we don’t) talk about an experience that sounds painful—and not step in to help, offer suggestions, or try to fix it. The second-hardest (not necessarily in this order) is to listen to someone describe a problem that they (or we) believe we are responsible for—and not defend ourselves. And rounding out this trio is to listen to someone describe a problem for which we believe they are to blame and have created, and not try to convince them of their responsibility.
By seemingly doing nothing (but truly listening), we are allowing the other to discover what they need to discover, creating and holding the space in which their problem can uncover its own solution (which is rarely anything we could have come up with). By being willing and courageous enough to do nothing with and to another’s experience, we are actually doing the most profound thing of all.
In addition, while it can be very difficult to refrain from defending ourselves when we feel we are being blamed (or are to blame). By simply holding a space for another’s unhappiness, we establish ourselves as one who authentically cares, who wants to and is brave enough to know the other’s experience (even if it is about us). Making the other feel loved, through our deep and present listening, is the only way to create a safe enough place from which the other can assume the responsibility we want them to assume.
The next time you are listening to someone, see what it feels like to commit to being present, to just listening, without offering any interpretation about what the other person is living, or suggesting any way to fix it. See if you can simply be with their experience as it is. The next time you are sharing an experience—particularly if you are being bombarded with ideas for what to do or why it is the way it is—kindly ask the other person if they can listen to you without suggestions, and just hold a space for what you are describing.
It may feel like an awkward request, but if the other person can truly offer you this, it will be well worth the discomfort of asking. Notice how it feels for you to be heard and absorbed in this way. We need to relearn what helping really means, and what we actually need and want from each other, and for ourselves—the presence that we truly crave. Simultaneously, we need to be able to recognise and voice our real longing—to be known deeply, really listened to, and not fixed.
This experience, at its core, is love.
All entries complied by osteopath Dr Wei Chua unless otherwise stated.