Treatment for Frozen Shoulder

What Is Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder. It usually results in restricted shoulder joint movement over time. The condition is also known as adhesive capsulitis of shoulder. Every shoulder is made up of three bones that come together where a ball-and-socket joint is formed. These bones include your scapula (shoulder blade), humerus (upper arm), and clavicle (collarbone). The tissue that holds the joint together is known as the shoulder capsule, and the shoulder is lubricated by the synovial fluid.

When the shoulder loses lubrication and scar tissue begins to form, the joint capsule becomes tight and thick. This results in limited movement. The symptoms of the condition gradually worsen over time, and typically take up to three years to resolve. Frozen shoulder can be treated mainly through physical therapy, but other treatment options are available.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder?

The main signs and symptoms of frozen shoulder are stiffness and pain, making it difficult to move the affected shoulder.

You will go through three different stages when developing a frozen shoulder. These are:

1. The freezing stage

This stage can last from 6 to 9 months. You will feel pain in your shoulder whenever you move it. The pain will worsen over time and will become more prevalent at night. Your shoulder movement will also begin to get more limited.

2. The Frozen stage

This stage normally lasts anywhere from 4 to 12 months. The pain in the shoulder might lessen but stiffness will worsen. It will also become nearly impossible to move the shoulder.

3. The Thawing stage

At this stage, your shoulder will begin to heal and you’ll begin to regain your normal range of motion. It can take 6 months to 3 years to reach full recovery.

How Is Frozen Shoulder Diagnosed?

Your doctor will make a diagnosis by carrying out a physical exam. To check your active range of motion, you will be asked to move your shoulder in certain directions on your own. Your doctor will also move your arm for you to check your passive range of motion.

An anaesthetic might be injected into your shoulder to numb your pain while your doctor evaluates your passive and active range of motion.
In most cases, a physical exam is enough to make a diagnosis, but your doctor may order further tests. These include imaging tests such as ultrasound, X-rays, and MRI scans to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms, such as a torn rotator cuff or arthritis.

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