Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a shoulder condition that limits the range of motion in the shoulder. This takes place when tissues in the shoulder joint get essentially tighter as well as thicker. Furthermore, the condition gets worse when there is development of scar tissue over time. This results in the shoulder joint not having sufficient space for rotating properly. The usual symptoms include stiffness, swelling, and pain. The condition is most commonly seen in individuals from ages 40 to 60.
Frozen shoulder usually develops slowly and steadily, increasingly in three stages. Each stage has the power to last over several months. Following are the stages.
- Freezing stage – The first stage is generally referred to as the ‘freezing stage’. At this stage, the shoulder usually starts aching while become extremely painful while you reach out. The pain then turn worse during night time while you lie down on the side that is affected. This stage can go about for about two to nine months. Any kind of movement in the shoulder results in pain while the shoulder’s motion becomes limited.
- Frozen stage – This is the second stage, where the shoulder becomes increasingly stiff. However, the pain does not get worse. In fact, it can even get decrease. The shoulder muscles could potential begin to slow wither as they are not in use. This process is known as atrophy. The stage lasts for about 4-12 months. However, the shoulder further gets stiffer while using it becomes all the more difficult.
- Thawing stage – The third stage is known as the ‘thawing’ stage. At this time period, you generally tend to regain movement in the shoulder. The pain here begins to fade, though it can also come back at times with the stiffness easing out. The range of motion of the shoulder then begins to get improved. Individuals here regain entire movement of the shoulder and you are able to carrying out several tasks that you couldn’t before. Stage three further lasts for a duration of about six months and can extend up to several years.
Frozen Shoulder Symptoms
For some individuals, pain usually worsens during night time. As a result, sleep gets disrupted at times.
Pain, along with continuous stiffness, are considered the main symptoms that this condition has. This usually results in extreme pain, limiting the range of motion in the shoulder. Individuals undergoing the pain might find it extremely difficult for performing everyday tasks which include the following,
- Sleeping comfortably
The symptoms usually vary and sweep from mild to being extremely severe. In mild situations, it might get difficult to handle daily activities while in severe conditions; you might not be able to move the shoulder.
Who is at risk of developing this condition?
The condition affects 3% of adults during some stage of their lives. This commonly occurs among individuals who are aged 40-65 years. This condition is increasingly common among women. This mostly takes place among individuals who have been seen having diabetes while also in other conditions; including thyroid disease of the overactive kind.
Either of the shoulders can get affected. However, most commonly, it usually is the shoulder which is the non-dominant one. Thus, for most individuals, it is the left-shoulder one for a person who is right-handed.
The cause of this issue is usually not clear. It is generally considered as a result of the formation of scar tissues which takes place in shoulder capsule. This capsule is extremely thin while covering and protecting the joint at shoulder. Scar tissue further causes the capsule thickening. It can also contract, while limiting the shoulder’s movement. The reason of the formation of the scar tissues is unknown. The condition at times might follow a shoulder injury.
Is there any need for tests?
The diagnosis is usually made by an examination conducted by the doctor. You can also get an X-ray done of the shoulder joint along with an MRI scan. These tests are usually conducted when the diagnosis is not clear in order to exclude other causes of the symptoms. So, as a result, many people usually do not needs the tests.
The main aim of the treatment is to ease the pain, along with the stiffness. It is also important to keep the shoulder’s range of motion proper while you wait or the condition to get cleared. Following are the treatment options required for this state.
- Ordinary painkillers
Paracetamol is usually advised at first in order to ease out the pain. Codeine is an extremely strong painkiller, which can also be used as being an alternative. Due to codeine, some individuals might face constipation. Ordinary painkillers might be taken along with other treatments.
- Anti-inflammatory painkillers
Examples of some painkillers include of diclofenac, ibuprofen and naproxen. These medicines work and helps to ease the pain while reduces the inflammation in the shoulder. Side-effects at times occur as a result of anti-inflammatory painkillers. It is very essential to read the leaflet which comes along with the packet of medicine in order to go through the complete cautions list along with possible side-effects.
If ordinary treatment and therapy isn’t working, a frozen shoulder can be treated with surgery. The doctor can perform manipulation on the paitent under anesthesia. This kind of surgery does not require incisions, but instead the doctor only moves the arm around to break up the adhesions caused by the frozen shoulder. Aside from manipulation, the doctor can also perform arthroscopic capsular release. This procedure requires the insertion of an arthroscope between the joints to cut adhesions. This procedure is used only in extreme cases wherein the frozen shoulder does not react to therapy. Before deciding to have surgery, paitents have several options that they can choose from to best treat their frozen shoulder.
It is recommended to take some therapy sessions with a licensed therapist, because the therapy will definitely be more efficient comparing to your own. If you want to do it yourself, we recommend you get some literature first. You can find many books regarding this topic, but only a few can be recommended. Always use Google to check out the author of the book you are interested in, to find a little bit more about his or hers professional life, which might give you a better idea of how good that particular book author really is. Some books come in box sets, which include a DVD inside. This makes it easier to exercise on the go, as you can simply pop the DVD into your DVD player and start exercising, while listening to instructions as you do.
A wide array of shoulder exercises is usually advised. The main aim lies in helping the shoulder loosen up. It is also essential to conduct the exercises in a regular manner, as being instructed by the doctor.
Many people usually refer to a physiotherapist who renders expert advice on the exercises that could be done. You can also try other techniques which relieve pain. This includes cold or warm temperature packs.
- Steroid injection
The steroid injection usually brings relief for varied number of weeks. It helps in reducing inflammation. While it might not be a cure, many individuals report significant relief from the pain.
- Pendulum stretch
By relaxing the shoulders, you need to stand while lean slightly. This allows the affected arm to hanging down. You need to swing your arm in small circle. With the symptoms improving, it increases the swing’s diameter. You can increase the stretch while hold light weights.
Start by holding one end of the towel behind your back, while grabbing the opposite end using the right hand. By holding the towel along the horizontal position, you can use the good arm for pulling the arm in upward direction. These exercises should be done to get rid of the affected arm.
Read more on frozen shoulder exercises.
If you are thinking you might have frozen shoulder syndrome, and you think that you are experiencing some of the symptoms listed above, then you should consult a doctor immediately. They can help you get started on your road to recover.