Frozen Shoulder 101

by / Tuesday, 25 June 2019 / Published in Blog

If you are suffering from a frozen shoulder, a.k.a. adhesive capsulitis, you may be feeling pain and stiffness in your shoulder. As the condition progresses, you may lose several degrees of motion. Frozen shoulder affects more women than men, between the ages of 40 and 60.

Stages of Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder consists of 3 clinical stages:

  • Freezing or pain – Diffused shoulder pain that gradually increases. This may last 6 weeks to 9 months.
  • Frozen or stiff – During this stage, it may become extremely difficult to move your shoulder. This may last 4-6 months.
  • Thawing – Full motion gradually returns. Complete return to normal strength and motion may take up to 24 months.

Successful treatment for a frozen shoulder includes measures to relieve pain and inflammation, in addition to a physical therapy regimen.

Causes of Frozen Shoulder

A frozen shoulder is more common in patients with diabetes, hypothyroidism, or those that have suffered a traumatic injury to the shoulder. Most cases of adhesive capsulitis have uncertain causes.

Frozen Shoulder Treatment

Adhesive capsulitis may take over 24 months to resolve. Fortunately, there are several treatment options to accelerate recovery.

  • NSAIDs – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen and Naprosyn reduce pain and inflammation and allow the patient to undergo physical therapy.
  • Steroid injections into the glenohumeral joint can relieve pain and inflammation.
  • Brisement – The shoulder capsule can be mechanically stretched by introducing a large volume of sterile fluid into the joint.
  • Physical therapy – Physical therapy and exercises can restore normal motion.
  • Surgery – A few patients who fail to improve with the above treatments, may have to undergo surgery. Surgery includes –
    • Manipulation under anesthesia to stretch the shoulder while the patient is sedated.
    • Shoulder arthroscopy to relieve the tight capsule of its contracture.
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