Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)

Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis) is a loss of motion or stiffness in the shoulder, usually accompanied by joint pain. Frozen shoulder is most common in people between the ages of 40 and 60 but can afflict anyone regardless of gender, arm preference, or occupation.

What You Need To Know About Frozen Shoulder

What is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is a debilitating condition described as stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. This condition typically occurs when the connective tissues surrounding the shoulder joint become thickened and inflamed.

As the patient continues to use their impaired shoulder less and less, the shoulder's ligaments and tendons will become thicker and tighter, immobilizing the shoulder. Symptoms worsen over time, usually within a one to three year period.

If a physician does not treat the condition correctly, the patient may be unable to move their arm without severe pain and effort.

Start getting relief from your symptoms. Schedule an appointment with the shoulder experts at Resurgens Orthopaedics now.

What Causes Frozen Shoulder?

Physicians do not fully understand the exact causes of frozen shoulder. However, the root cause of a frozen shoulder is developing a thickened membrane around the shoulder's joint capsule. As the condition progresses, bands of tissues develop and inflame the shoulder joint.

Several factors make it more likely to develop a frozen shoulder, including:

  • Diabetes. Patients who have diabetes tend to have more intensive swelling and stiffness in joints.

  • Pre-existing conditions, including hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Parkinson's disease, and cardiac disease

  • Prolonged immobilization of the shoulder. Frozen shoulder may develop in patients who recently underwent a surgical procedure or injury that did not allow them to move their shoulder freely.

What are the Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder?

A dull, aching pain characterizes a frozen shoulder. The condition gradually worsens and progresses in three stages:

  • Stage 1: Patients in the first stage cannot move their shoulder without pain, and their range of motion is limited.

  • Stage 2: Painful symptoms may diminish during the second stage but stiffness increases. The frozen stage usually lasts between four and six months and severely impairs shoulder mobility.

  • Stage 3: After seeking treatment, movement becomes more comfortable during the third (thawing) stage. But a complete range of motion and strength takes between six months to two years.

How is Frozen Shoulder Diagnosed?

During a physical examination, a physician will inspect the mobility and pain levels of the impaired shoulder. Patients should disclose their family history and any previous injuries.

The physician will test the range of motion through passive and active exercises. They will move the patient's arm during passive activities and ask them to move their shoulder alone. Frozen shoulder typically makes it a challenge to maneuver through active and passive exercises.

A physician may use diagnostic imaging like X-rays, MRIs, or ultrasounds to rule out other conditions that may result in a frozen shoulder, such as arthritis or rotator cuff tears.

Frozen Shoulder Treatment

Frozen shoulders usually pass with time; however, patients should consider possible non-surgical or surgical treatments if the condition progresses for more than three years. The goal of treatment is to restore functioning mobility and relieve painful symptoms. Your doctor will advise you on the best course of action for your lifestyle and goals.

Non-Surgical Treatment

Typically non-surgical treatment involves a combination of medication and physical therapy. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, may reduce shoulder pain and inflammation. Doctors may prescribe more potent medicines if needed. Be careful as these medications can become habit-forming.

Patients should also stick to a regimented physical therapy routine to improve shoulder mobility and function. Patients should continue exercises at home and apply gentle heat to the compromised shoulder to help loosen it up.

Surgical Treatment

Patients should seek surgical remedies if non-surgical approaches fail. Doctors can inject medicines into the shoulder joint to decrease pain and improve mobility. They may also recommend procedures such as arthroscopic capsular release. In other cases, a doctor may recommend a diagnostic arthroscopy. This procedure can help the doctor identify your needs.

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