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Help I have a Frozen Shoulder!

Help I have a Frozen Shoulder!

What is a Frozen Shoulder?

The shoulder ‘capsule’ is the name given to the connective tissue which holds the ball and socket of the shoulder together. Frozen shoulder (or ‘adhesive capsulitis’) is the term used to describe a tightening of the connective tissue which limits the flexibility of the shoulder and can cause a great deal of pain.

How do you get a frozen shoulder?

Researcher still don’t fully understand what causes frozen shoulder. What we do know is that at times it is precipitated by trauma – such as a fall or after an operation, but on many occasions, it appears without an obvious reason.

What are the symptoms of a Frozen Shoulder?

There are three main stages of frozen shoulder. Symptoms vary depending on which phase the shoulder is in.

1.The first phase is the freezing stage. During this phase, the shoulder typically becomes painful with movement and can even ache when at rest. Often the pain is felt most at night when in bed. Shoulder flexibility begins to decrease in this phase, and actions such as fastening a bra strap or reaching into your back pocket for a wallet are often very painful, if not impossible to perform.
2.The next phase is the frozen stage. Shoulder stiffness becomes very limited and all directions of movement are limited, especially external rotation, or rotating your arm away from your body. The pain may remain in this stage, or it may actually decrease.
3.The final phase is the thawing phase. As the name implies, the stiffness melts away slowly in this phase, and shoulder movement is regained. Despite the return of a great deal of flexibility in this stage, the shoulder is often very weak as the muscles controlling shoulder movement have had an extended holiday due to the stiffness that prevented their having to work for several months.

What treatments do I need ?

The only redeeming quality of frozen shoulder is that, unlike many orthopaedic diagnoses, in the vast majority of cases frozen shoulder is self-limiting. Most individuals who have frozen shoulder and do nothing to treat it will regain most of their flexibility within 18-24 months. However, this fact is little consolation during the freezing and frozen stages for patients who struggle to perform their normal activities and suffer from shoulder pain.

Physiotherapy treatment is appropriate for pain control with frozen shoulder

During the thawing stages, physiotherapy assists in restoring flexibility and strength. Patients are also given a home exercise programme focused on to ensure that they make the best recovery possible, so they can return to all of their usual activities including sport.
In situations where the pain and immobility become too great for the patient to tolerate, or where the loss of movement hinders an individual’s ability to perform manual work for example, an injection of corticosteroid or a manipulation under anaesthesia (where the surgeon stretches the shoulder forcefully when the patient is under anaesthesia) can be used. However, the majority of people with frozen shoulder do not require these interventions.

1Comment
  • Fiona Davies
    Posted at 10:48h, 20 May Reply

    Acupuncture proved really helpful on my frozen shoulder. I was surprised as I would have said I was cynical about ‘alternative therapies’ but there was an immediate, measurable increase in my range of movement which continued on each treatment, and my recovery was much faster than I expected.

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