Frequently Asked Questions About Frozen Shoulder

  • Posted on: Aug 4 2023
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The ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder makes it possible for you to lift, lower, and rotate your arm easily and painlessly. Unfortunately, certain conditions can prevent the shoulder tissues from moving properly. One such condition, frozen shoulder, can leave you with a stiff shoulder joint and nagging shoulder pain.

Fortunately, you don’t have to let a case of frozen shoulder debilitate you. A basic understanding of frozen shoulder’s causes, symptoms, and potential treatment methods can help you seek the proper care and regain full use of the affected joint. Let these frequently asked questions serve as your guide.

Who Gets Frozen Shoulder and Why?

Frozen shoulder, more properly known by the medical term adhesive capsulitis, involves a progressive stiffening of the connective tissues that make up the shoulder capsule. These ligaments hold the shoulder joint together by connecting the upper arm bone to the other shoulder bones. Their stiffening prevents comfortable joint motion.

While anyone can get frozen shoulder, the condition tends to occur more often in women. People who have experienced strokes, struggle from diabetes, or have thyroid conditions may also face an elevated risk. The condition may follow a shoulder injury or surgery, especially if a sling immobilizes the shoulder for an extended period.

What Symptoms Does Frozen Shoulder Cause?

Shoulder stiffness and pain are the hallmark symptoms of frozen shoulder. The pain may strike your upper arm and/or the outer part of the shoulder. However, these symptoms can vary over time as the condition progresses over three recognized stages. Each stage may take months to complete.

The first stage of frozen shoulder, known as the freezing stage, may prove the most painful, with the pain feeling more intense at night. In the second or frozen stage, the pain recedes while the stiffness remains. The shoulder gradually regains range of motion during the final or thawing stage.

A variety of diagnostic tests can determine whether your symptoms indicate frozen shoulder or another condition such as rotator cuff strain or referred pain from the neck. These tests can include evaluations of your current range of shoulder motion, x-rays, ultrasound imaging, and magnetic resonance imaging.

How Can Physical Therapy Treatment Relieve Frozen Shoulder?

Thankfully, only the most stubborn or severe cases of frozen shoulder require surgical intervention. Physical therapy treatment may help you regain some of your lost motion and experience less pain. Orthopedic clinics often utilize various physical therapy techniques to treat frozen shoulder. For instance, a type of electrical stimulation called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or TENS can ease pain during the first stage of the condition while also strengthening shoulder muscles. Physical therapy can play another crucial role in restoring shoulder strength and flexibility. Your physical therapist may start by teaching you some range-of-motion exercises to do at home during the initial stage of the condition, followed by stretching and strengthening exercises throughout the later stages.

If your shoulder has frozen up and you suspect adhesive capsulitis as the cause, consult the joint care experts at Maximum Orthopedics. We can confirm the diagnosis and create a personalized treatment plan to ease your discomfort and restore your range of shoulder motion.  Contact our office  to schedule an appointment.

Posted in: Blog, Orthopedics, Work Injuries, Workers Compensation Benefits

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