Frozen Shoulder


Understanding Frozen Shoulder

The shoulder is a complex, highly mobile joint designed to provide the highest amount of motion of any joint in the body. It is a ball and socket joint surrounded by a variety of ligaments, tendons, and muscles that are responsible for moving the arm. Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a condition in which the capsule of the shoulder joint becomes more rigid and inflamed. This causes severe limits in the range of motion and pain when trying to move the shoulder joint.

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Frozen shoulder usually develops slowly and in three stages, each lasting for several weeks to months if untreated.

  1. Freezing stage: Any movement of the shoulder causes pain and the range of motion starts to become limited
  2. Frozen stage: Pain starts to go away, but the shoulder becomes much stiffer and using it is more difficult
  3. Thawing stage: The pain is gone and range of motion slowly improves

When to Seek Treatment

If you’re noticing symptoms associated with Frozen Shoulder and suspect an issue, it’s crucial to consider consulting a board-certified specialist in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis and timely treatment. Early intervention can significantly improve your overall well-being and provide a broader range of treatment options, which may decrease as symptoms persist. The key to a successful and speedy recovery lies in addressing the root of the pain with your specialist as soon as symptoms arise.

While many people experience day-to-day pain, dismissing it as soreness, this may not be the case for everyone. If your pain persists for more than 10 days, it should be taken more seriously. Evaluate such prolonged pain with a specialist to identify the root issue and determine the appropriate treatment. Additionally, be attentive to other signs related to pain that should not be ignored, including pain accompanied by fever, pain associated with loss of bladder control, and weakness/tingling/numbness in your arms or legs.

It’s important to note that these are general guidelines based on our expertise over the past three decades, recognizing that each patient’s symptoms may be unique.

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Common Causes

We are not entirely sure why Frozen Shoulder happens to certain people, but something triggers the connective tissue and capsule around the shoulder joint to thicken and get inflamed, tightening the shoulder joint.

Risk Factors

  • Age > 40 and the female sex are at increased risk
  • Immobility of a shoulder for a variety of reasons such as a separate injury to the shoulder, having a stroke, or recovering from a surgical procedure
  • Certain systemic diseases like diabetes, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, or cardiovascular disease
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Diagnosing Frozen Shoulder

A comprehensive history and physical examination is the most important piece to determine if the rotator cuff is involved in your shoulder pain. X-ray, MRI, and/or ultrasound are imaging modalities that allow us to see the rotator cuff and surround tissues.

Treatment Options

Try and have a work-out routine that incorporates maintaining shoulder range of motion

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