Not being able to move your shoulder is more than frustrating, it can prevent you from enjoying favorite activities and even from performing daily tasks. Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) causes the tissues around the shoulder joint to stiffen and form scar tissue. In addition to restricting the movement of your shoulder, frozen shoulder can also be painful.
EmergeOrtho’s remarkable Shoulder Team includes specialty-trained physicians who are dedicated to helping patients find reliable, safe, and innovative frozen shoulder relief. All of our physicians are board-certified or board-eligible, so you can be assured of receiving the highest quality, patient-centered care.
What Are the First Signs of Frozen Shoulder?
Once scar tissue develops, often accompanied by reduced synovial fluid in the shoulder joint, the shoulder begins the “freezing stage.” Freezing is the first sign of frozen shoulder, typically lasting anywhere from six weeks to nine months.
During the freezing phase, the shoulder begins to stiffen and range-of-motion diminishes. It also increases shoulder pain.
The freezing stage is followed by the second, “frozen,” stage in which the shoulder remains stiff, making even simple daily tasks difficult to perform.
Diagnosing Frozen Shoulder
Did you know that the cause of frozen shoulder is not completely understood? Although there is no one clear reason for this condition, research demonstrates that the following may contribute to frozen shoulder symptoms:
- Chronic Health Conditions and Diseases
Chronic health conditions such as diabetes have been linked with frozen shoulder. In fact, individuals with diabetes may exhibit a greater degree of shoulder stiffness that takes longer to subside. Additional conditions and diseases such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, and cardiac disease have also been connected with frozen shoulder.
Sometimes, when the shoulder has experienced an injury such as a fracture, a frozen shoulder can develop. This is also true for individuals who have had a prolonged period of post-surgery shoulder immobilization (especially if physical therapy and/or special exercises and stretches have not been performed regularly as recommended).
- Gender and Age
Women are more prone to developing frozen shoulder as are individuals between the ages of 40 and 60.
To properly diagnose frozen shoulder, your EmergeOrtho doctor will go over your medical history and conduct a physical examination. During your exam, your doctor will assess the range-of-motion of your shoulder.
Your physician may also conduct diagnostic imaging tests such as X-rays or Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound to help diagnose frozen shoulder and any additional conditions (such as arthritis or a torn rotator cuff).
Treatments for Frozen Shoulder
While stage, one: freezing; and, stage two: frozen, are the first phases of frozen shoulder, the third stage is referred to as “thawing.” The thawing stage occurs while undergoing treatment. During this time, shoulder strength and range-of-motion will gradually return.
Often, frozen shoulder and frozen shoulder pain management can be addressed through steroid injections, physical therapy, and other conservative treatments. If, however, pain still persists, surgical intervention may be recommended.
At EmergeOrtho, we specialize in minimally-invasive surgery, enabling many patients to go home the same day as their surgery. Shoulder manipulation is a prime example. As a minimally-invasive procedure, the doctor moves your shoulder joint in various directions to stretch or release the shoulder capsule, relieving tightness (while the patient is put under general anesthetic).
Another surgical option for frozen shoulder is arthroscopic release. In this procedure, scar tissue and stiff bands of tissue in the shoulder joint are removed. The doctor makes small incisions around the shoulder joint and inserts a tiny camera and instruments to perform the surgery arthroscopically. Aggressive physical therapy is often needed to recover completely.
Frozen Shoulder Rehabilitation and Recovery
It is important to keep in mind that the thawing process takes time. During rehabilitation, your EmergeOrtho doctor will prescribe helpful range-of-motion exercises and stretches. Over time, these activities should help ease pain and improve flexibility and mobility in the joint capsule and shoulder blade.
Full recovery from a frozen shoulder can take months to upwards of two to three years.
Request a visit now with one of our EmergeOrtho specialists for frozen shoulder relief and Emerge Stronger. Healthier. Better.