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Frozen Shoulder

Submitted by on August 14, 2009 – 10:30 pmOne Comment




Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis) is the most prevalent debilitating form of shoulder pain usually affecting elderly individuals in the age bracket of 40-60years, with higher cases in women observed in comparison to men. The inception of a Frozen Shoulder could also be related to genetic tendency, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, obesity or a past case of cervical disk problem, an invasive heart surgery done earlier or an earlier inflammation in the rotator cuff ligaments or bursa. Its incapacitating ability makes doing daily chores an ordeal of sorts and is further exacerbated by the lengthy recuperation times to resume complete range and mobility.

Frozen Shoulder Causes: The capsule is a shielding membrane that protects the rotator cuff joint in the shoulder. Due to varying reasons including strain or repetitive motion, the capsule gets scarred leading to the formation of adhesions that thicken the capsule membrane by reducing the in-between space thus encumbering free movement.

Frozen Shoulder Symptoms:  Frozen Shoulder progresses in three stages:

  • The shoulder pain slowly sets in and leads to a steady loss in shoulder movements. This is the freezing phase that lasts for close to three months with the pain heightening at night time, though movement is still doable.
  • Then follows the Frozen Phase wherein the pain is lesser though shoulder movement is considerably hampered leading to involuntary stiffness and lasts for close to a year.
  • Ultimately, the thawing phase enduring up to a year wherein the movement is very slowly re-established with greater range of shoulder movement.

Exams & Tests: The diagnosis is done principally by a physical examination and taking into account the patient’s past medical conditions. Generally, there is shoulder pain accounted in the past that is followed by impeding stiffness that may be extremely agonizing. If the sufferer has a past condition of risk factors related with the frozen shoulder, these would also necessitate treatment.

Imaging techniques like X-ray are routinely followed to ensure the absence of other hitches like arthritis MRI scans help in finding spreading inflammation.

Frozen Shoulder Treatment: Usually an administration of non- steroid based anti-inflammatory (NSAID) or prescription medicine and physiotherapy helps alleviate pain, though recovery period might be close to 18 months. Applying hot or cold packs help soften the adhesions. Ultrasound is a widely used option. One can make use of therapeutic putty that helps in maintaining grip strength and agility. For heat and support, using a shoulder support is a good option.

Physiotherapy is an intensive treatment that necessitates the patient concerned to religiously follow it to reap the optimal results. If results are not as desirable or the patient is incapable enduring the therapy, a shoulder manipulation surgery is the final effectual resort. In this surgery, under the effect of general anaesthesia, the surgeon with utter precision removes the adhesions by cogently moving the arm through a range of motion. In arthroscopy, the sticky scar tissue is removed from the joint followed by the administration of regular pain obstructers subsequent to surgery to help the patient to partake in physical therapy without any pain.

There are many professionally worked out set of stretching exercises, the most common ones like the ant walk wherein one stands in front of a wall at half arm length, eventually crawling up using one’s fingers,  relaxing and then doing it further more. Practising yoga has also been found to be beneficial.

Possible Complications: Many patients complain of existent pain and rigidity in spite of therapy. If forceful manoeuvring of the shoulder is done during surgery, the arm could break.

Prevention: The ideal method for prevention is quick and prompt follow-up with as healthcare expert when persistent debilitating shoulder pain occurs. This will help avert stiffness if diagnosed early. Diabetics should rigidly monitor their blood glucose levels, however, in spite that they are still prone to develop stiffness of the shoulder.

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One Comment »

  • Ruth says:

    Thanks for this post. As per my knowledge there are various ways to get rid..exercise with various techniques to loosen your shoulder joint.. it may sound complicated but pretty simple to do at home.Surgery can also allow you to get rid of frozen shoulder.

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