Understanding Frozen Shoulder: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

August 10, 2023

Have you ever experienced a sudden limitation in your shoulder’s range of motion, making simple tasks like reaching for something on a high shelf or even putting on a jacket a painful ordeal? If so, you might have encountered a condition known as frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis. In this blog, we’ll delve into the details of frozen shoulder, including its causes, symptoms, and potential treatment options.

Frozen shoulder typically develops when the connective tissues surrounding the shoulder joint, called the capsule, become thickened and tight. This can result in a significant decrease in the joint’s ability to move freely. While the exact cause of frozen shoulder remains unclear, certain factors can increase the risk of its development. These include age (it’s more common in individuals aged 40-60), gender (women are more susceptible), diabetes, previous shoulder injuries or surgeries, and certain medical conditions like thyroid disorders and cardiovascular disease.

The hallmark symptom of frozen shoulder is pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. The condition usually progresses through three phases:

  1. Freezing Phase: Gradual onset of pain and increasing stiffness. Simple movements become uncomfortable.
  2. Frozen Phase: Pain may lessen, but stiffness becomes more pronounced. Daily activities become significantly challenging.
  3. Thawing Phase: Range of motion gradually improves, and pain subsides over time.

 

Managing frozen shoulder often requires a combination of approaches tailored to each individual’s needs. These may include:

  • Physical Therapy: Gentle exercises aimed at maintaining your physical function, often guided by a physical therapist.
  • Pain Relief: Over-the-counter pain relievers, corticosteroid injections, and in some cases, prescribed medications to manage pain and inflammation.
  • Heat and Ice: Applying heat or ice packs can help alleviate pain.
  • Injections: Guided by a Sports Physician, injections may be used to help with pain management and improving your function.
  • Surgical Intervention: In severe cases where other treatments have not provided relief, a surgeon may recommend procedures like manipulation under anesthesia or arthroscopic release.

 

Frozen shoulder can be a frustrating and painful condition, but with the right treatment and care, recovery is possible. If you suspect you have a frozen shoulder, it’s essential to consult a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. Remember that early intervention can often lead to a quicker and smoother recovery, helping you regain the full use of your shoulder and get back to your daily activities without unnecessary discomfort.