How I Treated My Frozen Shoulder

Why We Get Shoulder Pain 

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney 

Happy New Year

celebrationI love the holidays!  It’s wonderful to see family and friends, and there’s always such good food and fun, but I’m also happy when the New Year begins.  Of course, every day is a “new year”, but January 1st is like starting a whole new book of life, with unlimited possibilities.

This year, I’m not only writing goals, I am also doing something that was suggested by Pegine Echevarria.  I’m looking back on this past year and writing down as many of my successes as I can remember.  Goals are the roadmap for the future, but remembering past successes lifts our confidence that we’ll be able to achieve the goals we have set.

In fact, this year I’m going to look at each day and write down a success that I’ve had that day. How wonderful it will be on New Year’s Eve to look back and read 365 successes for 2020!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and that you’re also eager about starting 2020.  Here’s to a year of adventure, joy, health, prosperity, and fulfillment of all your dreams!

Why We Get Shoulder Pain

For some reason I’ve had a LOT of clients come in with shoulder issues this month, more than normal, so it made me decide that this month’s topic should be about the shoulder.

The shoulder has more muscle attachments than any other joint in the body, which Is the reason we have such a wide assortment of movements we can make with our shoulder and arm.

There are 16 different muscles that impact your shoulder and cause movement and stability to the joint.  Each muscle is pulling in a different direction, and that’s a blessing, and a potential problem.

For example, when one muscle is trying to pull your arm forward, and the muscle that pulls your arm back is in spasm, you will have pain every time you try to move your arm to drive a car, type at your computer, or lift anything up.  And the pain can get severe if it’s not treated properly and quickly.

How I Treated My Frozen Shoulder

In 1993 I had the worst case of frozen shoulder I’ve ever seen in anyone before or since.

Every one of the 16 muscles had gone into a sudden spasm, pulling in 16 different directions.  It locked my elbow to my waistline and even the slightest movement in any direction caused excruciating shoulder joint pain.  Nobody could figure out what to do and I ended up tying my arm to my body to stop the stabbing hot knife pains I felt with even the slightest movement.  It was horrible! I knew what I would do to help you, but I couldn’t find anyone who could do those same treatments for me.  What to do?!

You know that voice that’s forever running in your head?  I was frantic and said out loud, ”What the heck am I going to do?” And a voice in my head said to me “treat yourself!”  Really, now how was I going to self-treat all these muscles when I had absolutely no movement in my left arm?  The voice said: “figure it out!”  So, I did!

It wasn’t easy, and it was definitely painful, but step-by-step I worked out how to treat each muscle using a ball, and my fingertips.  It took me five months to get back to 100% mobility, but I did it.  Next thing I knew every client who came to my office was suffering from shoulder pain. Nobody was as severe as I had been, but their situation was still very painful and limiting them in many ways.

I realized that I wouldn’t have gotten full range-of-motion back if I hadn’t been self-treating several times a day, so I started to teach my clients how to help themselves.  I didn’t have any pictures yet so I could only show them one or two techniques each time they came in, but it made a huge difference.  People started getting better, and I moved on to a new aspect of my therapy practice -– teaching people how to self-treat for permanent pain relief.pain free living book

Eventually I took pictures of each self-treatment, and I hand wrote a description of what the picture was demonstrating.  I didn’t have a computer yet, but that’s another long story about how it all became my first book (the title was so long, even I don’t remember it!).  I learned to have short titles for each book, and now every treatment I teach is in either Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living, The Pain-Free Athlete, or The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution. 

If you have been to see me for therapy, you know that I teach you what to do at home.  That’s definitely something most massage therapists don’t do, but my feeling is I’m only successful if you are out of pain and you stay that way.

One Important Shoulder Self-Treatment You Can Use First

We’ll demonstrate on the left arm:


Put a ball in your right hand and then bring your hand under your left armpit or you can place the ball as shown in the picture.




Lean onto a wall, moving until you find the “hot spot.”

Stay there for about a minute, either staying still or moving very slightly.

Take the pressure off the ball to let blood get into the area and repeat several times.


Move about, bringing the ball up further into your shoulder blade, and down toward your armpit (treating the latissimus dorsi muscle).

There Is So Much More

As I mentioned, there are 16 muscles involved in moving our shoulder and arm, and this is only one technique to ease pain and stiffness.  In my opinion, this is the #1 treatment I always teach because it helps so much, but the others are important too.

You can get every self-treatment in Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living and The Pain-Free Athlete. 

I’m also opening a weekly Zoom gathering that comes with 24/7/365 access to all the tools you need to find and release aches and pains from your head to your feet.  You can get information about it by going to

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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