Scar Tissue in Your Shoulder Limiting Your Movement? Try Manipulation Under Anesthesia

Scar Tissue in Your Shoulder Limiting Your Movement? Try Manipulation Under Anesthesia

It’s easy to overlook how flexible our shoulders are until there’s a problem, like being unable to scratch your back or brush your hair. 

For many people, these issues arise because soft tissue in the shoulder capsule thickens and tightens, and scar tissue forms within the joint. The shoulder capsule is a group of ligaments that connect to the shoulder socket and upper arm bone, encapsulating the shoulder joint and providing stability.

Several things can lead to scar tissue formation in the joint, including a bone fracture or soft tissue injury from overuse. Regardless of the cause, the resulting scar tissue can immobilize the shoulder and cause significant pain. Unfortunately, when this occurs, most people try to avoid moving the shoulder to keep the discomfort at bay, which leads to even more constriction.

Our team at Valley Pain Centers specializes in therapies designed to treat your pain at the source, including scar tissue in the shoulder. If you have limited shoulder movement, manipulation under anesthesia could help.

How manipulation under anesthesia works

One of the best methods for restoring shoulder movement when you have scar tissue involves stretching. However, this can be incredibly painful and take a significant amount of time, depending on the severity of scar tissue present. This is where manipulation under anesthesia comes in.

When you have manipulation under anesthesia (MUA), we administer a sedative and then perform deep tissue pressure, traction and muscle stripping, and a combination of stretches and physical manipulations. These hands-on treatments allow us to break up internal scar tissue and fibrous adhesions that are restricting your range of motion and causing pain.

What sets MUA apart from other physical treatments is the mild sedation used. It allows us to perform treatments on a much deeper level than if you were awake, which can offer dramatic results after a single treatment. 

What to expect from manipulation under anesthesia

Before recommending MUA, we perform a comprehensive consultation and examination to diagnose your condition and determine if you’re a good candidate.

During your treatment, our experienced anesthesiologist administers sedation to put you in a relaxed “twilight” state. At that point,our trained providers begin treating your shoulder using controlled manipulations and mobilizations to free up scar tissue and restore mobility. In most cases, this takes about 15 - 20 minutes.

After breaking up the fibrous adhesions and scar tissue, you receive an anti-inflammatory injection, and the anesthesiologist wakes you up. Because you receive sedation, you won’t feel a thing during your MUA session. However, you may have some discomfort after treatment, similar to how you might feel after a vigorous workout.

While MUA can provide dramatic results on its own, we require our patients to combine it with a rehabilitation program lasting 2-4 weeks. This added step can help ensure that the scar tissue and adhesions don’t reform.

At Valley Pain Centers, with two convenient Arizona locations in Phoenix and Peoria, you are never a number. Your consultation, examination, and treatment are always administered by a highly qualified physician. When it comes to shoulder pain and scar tissue, we have experienced physicians who can help you, including Patricia Henthorn, DC, DAAMUAP, and Norvan Vartevan, DO. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone today.

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