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Frozen Shoulder

Frozen Shoulder aka Adhesive Capsulitis is an extremely painful condition that affects most commonly people from the age of 40-60 and women more often than men. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint that is surrounded by strong connective tissue called a capsule. The capsule serves to protect and support the shoulder joint and to house the structures that provide the lubrication of the joint. In frozen shoulder, the capsule thickens and becomes tight. In many cases lubrication of the shoulder also lessens. The most common symptoms with frozen shoulder is the inability to move the shoulder on your own or even with the help of someone else. Frozen shoulder usually occurs in 3 stages, freezing, frozen, and thawing. Freezing is the 1st stage- typically pain slowly starts increasing slowly and you begin to lose range of motion. The 2nd stage, frozen, during this stage pain may actually decrease but the range of motion and stiffness does not improve, during this stage it is quite difficult to perform daily tasks because of the range of motion restrictions of the shoulder. The final stage, thawing, is when motion slowly starts to return and pain begins to lessen. The entire process can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years!

Some common causes of frozen shoulder include diseases like diabetes and certain thyroid disorders and immobilization following a surgery or shoulder injury. Research has found a strong correlation between thyroid disorders and diabetes and an increased chance of suffering from frozen shoulder. People with diabetes are 5x more likely to suffer from frozen shoulder than the average population. Another common cause is immobilization following an injury or a surgery. It is important to restore range of motion following an injury or surgery through home exercises and physical therapy to prevent frozen shoulder.

Some tips for treating frozen shoulder. Prevention will always be the best form of treatment. If you have had increased shoulder pain and feel that you have started to lose mobility of your shoulder, contact your physician or local physical therapist immediately. They will be able to assess your shoulder through a series of movements of the shoulder that they perform vs. movements that you are able to perform on your own. Through a thorough evaluation, they will be better able to diagnose frozen shoulder and provide you with the correct form of treatment. Common treatments include steroid-injection shots to decrease pain and inflammation, physical therapy, and lastly surgical intervention. Physical therapy will combine pain management with certain manual techniques and exercises to restore full mobility of the shoulder and prevent excessive loss of motion. In severe cases where pain-management and physical therapy do not help resolve the issues, surgery has been shown to be successful as a final solution. A surgeon will go in and force the shoulder to move and break the adhesions. Following this procedure physical therapy will be required to maintain the new found mobility.

Frozen shoulder can be quite time consuming and very painful. If you or a loved one suspect the development of frozen shoulder or other shoulder pathology please contact one of our skilled Doctors of Physical Therapy at 949-861-8600, they will be able to listen to your shoulder complaints and be best suited to go through treatment options with you whether that be physical therapy or referral to an orthopedic doctor. Don’t be sidelined with pain and limited shoulder mobility, contact your local physical therapist today and stay in the game.

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