My right shoulder started to hurt after some mild exercise in the fall of 2006 without a specific injury. It got progressively worse over the next few days as I started to lose my range of motion. As a musculoskeletal radiologist who also practices holistic medicine I knew right away what was happening. I was in the early stages of developing a frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, an inflammatory process of the synovial lining of the joint.
It typically progresses from initial pain to eventual complete loss of motion as the inflammation turns to rigid fibrosis which may last several years. Orthopedic surgeons consider it idiopathic as they don’t understand the cause; rheumatologists may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications with limited success; and physical therapists often have little to offer as their usual exercises just cause more pain.
Fortunately, one of my acupuncture mentors, Dr. Michael Greenwood, had previously taught me that a frozen shoulder may be initiated by a traumatic event leading to repressed anger, most commonly seen in middle-aged women who are furious with their husbands. Surgery is a last resort for dealing with this enigmatic condition, and during the operation the synovium is usually found to be angry red in appearance, a metaphor for the underlying emotion trapped in the shoulder.
I knew I didn’t want to have surgery or to spend the next couple years waiting for my shoulder to heal, so I started searching for the source of my anger. I didn’t need to look far, as I had become a political activist for the first time in my life during the 2004 presidential campaign. My frustration with the election results had been building throughout Bush’s second term, and I felt powerless to do anything about it.
After a therapeutic massage yielded no positive results, I knew it was time to start tapping on the anger as described in my EFT for Physical Illnesses blog. A few years earlier I had used Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) with a patient of mine in the Duke University sports medicine clinic who had a frozen shoulder. She had rapid recovery of her shoulder function once she realized it was related to anger about her closest friend moving away unexpectedly without even saying goodbye.
Tapping emphatically, which means while screaming or crying, assisted me in releasing my anger and freeing up my shoulder in only a couple months rather than a couple years. What I was dealing with has been described as a symbolic somatic metaphor by my newest mentor, University of Auckland rheumatologist/immunologist/psychiatrist Brian Broom, in his pioneering work with whole person healthcare.
If you find these symbolic concepts intriguing I will be exploring them further in 2017 with medical intuitive Winter Robinson in an April Monroe Institute workshop on Medical Intuition and Symbolic Diseases, and with physical therapist Terry Lynch in a May Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology workshop on Messages from the Body: Accessing Somatic Consciousness for Healing.
Originally published at medium.com