Frozen Shoulder Syndrome

by Garreth Myers


Many people, over the age of 40, need to consult their doctors, for frozen shoulder treatment. Although this condition is quite common, there are several people who do not know what exactly frozen shoulder syndrome is or what its causes are.

What is a frozen shoulder?

A frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is quite a common condition, which is marked by stiffness and severe pain in the shoulder joint. When people suffer from this disorder, their shoulder capsule, which is the connective tissue that surrounds the glenohumeral joint, gets stiff due to an inflammation. This in turn leads to extreme stiffness and chronic pain. Some health experts also refer to a frozen shoulder as a shoulder injury with four stages, which include pain, pain and stiffness, stiffness and resolution. At the beginning, the symptoms of a frozen shoulder may not be severe, but they tend to worsen over a period of time. After a while, the pain also gets resolved on its own. The entire process usually takes place over a two-year period. A frozen shoulder is more likely to occur in those people who have experienced prolonged shoulder immobility for any reason. At times, people suffering from other preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease, thyroid disorders, tuberculosis or cardiovascular diseases could also be more prone to a frozen shoulder. Women are more likely to suffer from a frozen shoulder, than men are; of all the people that suffer from a frozen shoulder, 70% are women.

Causes

The exact causes of a frozen shoulder are still unknown, but studies indicate that this condition is generally seen in people who have suffered from prolonged immobilization of the shoulder in the recent past. Hence, people who have recently had a surgery or a fracture near the shoulder are vulnerable to a frozen shoulder, due to a long period of immobility. There are different tendons, bones and ligaments that make up the shoulder joint. All these are encased in a capsule, made of connective tissue. There could be many factors that cause this capsule to thicken and tighten around the shoulder joint. When this happens, the movement in the shoulder tends to get restricted.

Symptoms

It has been seen that the pain and stiffness experienced due to a frozen shoulder usually get worse during the night. This could thereby disrupt normal sleeping patterns in a person causing them lots of discomfort. It takes quite a while for the symptoms of a frozen shoulder to develop; there are three different stages of this condition and each stage can last for several months. The first stage is the most painful, where a person experiences intense pain in the shoulder with the slightest movement of the area. During this stage, a person's range of motion begins to get restricted. Gradually, the second stage begins, where the person also begins to experience stiffness in the shoulder, along with the pain. During the third stage, the pain begins to diminish a bit, but the stiffness still lasts, or probably gets worse, restricting movement even further. After the three stages of the symptoms, people with the frozen shoulder syndrome enter the fourth stage, also known as the thawing stage, where the pain and stiffness both reduce increasing the range of motion.

Treatment

There are many people who do not go through any form of frozen shoulder treatment, mainly because this condition is known to get resolved on its own. However, it could take up to two years for a person to experience relief from this condition, without any medication. Most doctors advise people to practice certain exercises for frozen shoulder in order to ease the condition. However, it is important to first visit a doctor, so that the condition can be diagnosed accurately. Most doctors diagnose the problem just by observing the signs and symptoms. However, at times, the doctor may advise a patient to go through certain imaging tests, like an MRI or an X ray, just to rule out the possibilities of other structural problems. Once the condition is diagnosed, the doctor may recommend the use of medication as well as physical therapy for frozen shoulder. The main purpose of frozen shoulder treatment is to preserve the range of movement in the shoulder. Given below are the different methods, used to treat frozen shoulder syndrome:

  • Medication, which include corticosteroids and non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
  • Physical therapy, which mainly involves exercises for frozen shoulder pain, without putting too much stress on the shoulder
  • Distention, where sterile water is injected into the joint capsule, so that the tissue can stretch and it becomes easier to move the joint
  • Frozen shoulder manipulation, where general anesthesia is given so that the doctor can move the shoulder around, thereby loosening the tightened tissue, without causing much pain
  • Surgery, to loosen the joint tissue, as the lost resort, of medication, therapy or other procedures do not work

Apart from traditional medication, frozen shoulder treatment exercises and surgical procedures, there other methods that people can adopt, in order to get relief from the pain and stiffness. The most commonly used alternative form of frozen shoulder treatment is acupuncture, which is an ancient Chinese practice for relieving pain caused by different conditions. In this procedure fine needles are inserted at specific points of the body. These needles are supposed to remain in place for around 15 to 30 minutes, as the treatment goes on. There are also other home remedies that can help relieve the pain caused by this condition to a great extent. This includes frozen shoulder treatment massage, heat therapy or the application of ice, to the shoulder.

Since the most common cause of a frozen shoulder is immobility, it is possible for people to prevent this condition. People who are suffering from a shoulder injury or have just had surgery should consult a doctor for exercises that can help them stretch the shoulder joint capsule, even when the arm is immobile. Although there is a lot of information on frozen shoulder causes and treatment that is easily available, it is strongly recommended that people consult a doctor, in case they suspect that they are suffering from this condition.


Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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