Frozen Shoulder: What Is It, What Causes It, and What Are the Treatment Options

Adhesive capsulitis, the medical term for the frozen shoulder, is a physical affliction that leads to stiffness tenderness in the shoulder. If left untreated, this condition can result in reduced mobility in the affected shoulder and the entire arm. Eventually, it becomes very hard to move the shoulder. It is not a highly common condition, only affecting approximately 2% of the general population, the majority of which are women between the ages of 40 and 60.

Symptoms of a Frozen Shoulder

A frozen shoulder typically develops slowly and in three stages:

  1. The freezing stage, during which movement of the shoulder can cause pain, and range of motion decreases.
  2. The frozen stage, during which the pain subsides, but the shoulder is stiffer and it is even less mobile.
  3. The thawing stage, which is marked by a return of mobility, though pain and tenderness are still present.

The three different stages of a frozen shoulder can last for several months at a time.

What Causes a Frozen Shoulder?

This condition typically develops when a person experiences pain in their shoulder, which causes them to stop using the joint as she normally would. It can also be the result of an injury to the shoulder joint, or a side effect of a chronic health condition, such as diabetes or arthritis.

pilates-2259761_1280

Those who are at an increased risk of developing a frozen shoulder include:

  • Those who are 40 to 60 years of age
  • After sustaining an injury to the shoulder joint
  • After undergoing surgery in the area
  • Postmenopausal women
  • Those who suffer from chronic health conditions

How is a Frozen Shoulder Diagnosed?

To diagnose a frozen shoulder, a medical care professional will take the patient’s full medical history and perform a physical examination. During the examination, the following typically occurs:

  • Active range of motion is assessed. The patient is asked to move his or her arm in different motions and place it in different positions. This will allow the doctor to evaluate mobility of the shoulder and to assess any pain.
  • Passive range of motion will also be assessed. A doctor will examine the arm as the patient relaxes it.
  • Both passive and active range of motion will be evaluated by injecting an anesthetic into the affected area.

wellness-285587_640

A frozen shoulder is often diagnosed from the signs and symptoms a patient presents; however, additional testing may be ordered, such as an MRI, to rule out other issues with the shoulder and to make a proper diagnosis.

Treatment Options for a Frozen Shoulder

Both surgical and non-surgical procedures can be used to treat a frozen shoulder.

Typically, non-surgical treatment methods are first employed, and can include:

  • Medication, such as anti-inflammatory, non-steroidal drugs that can help to reduce swelling and ease pain
  • Injections of steroids, which also help to minimize swelling and pain
  • Treatment of any underlying conditions that may have lead to the condition
  • Physical therapy, which can help to ease pain and restore mobility

When non-surgical treatment options fail to work, or in severe cases, surgery may be recommended . During surgery, tight tissues that surround the shoulder will be loosened, which will help to improve mobility, and thus will improve the pain and stiffness that is associated with a frozen shoulder.

What Does Recovery from Surgery Involve?

After surgery, Ronkonkoma physical therapy is necessary. A physical therapist will work with the patient, teaching him or her exercises that will help strengthen the muscles in the shoulder, which will decrease pain and improve mobility. The recovery time after surgery varies for each person; however, following a Bay Shore physical therapy routine and the recommendations made by the doctor will ensure that the shoulder properly heals.

If you have been recently diagnosed with a frozen shoulder, or have undergone surgery to treat this condition, and are in need of Roslyn physical therapy, contact our office today. Our therapists will create a treatment plan that is custom tailored to your specific needs, helping to reduce pain and restore the use of your shoulder.