Frozen Shoulder is one of the many conditions afflicting the shoulder joint, resulting in pain and limited movement. Here are few important things to know about this condition.
Frozen shoulder, also known as Adhesive Capsulitis is a condition characterized by varying degrees of pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. The tissues in your shoulder get thicker and tighter leading to scar tissue. As a result your shoulder joint doesn’t have enough space to rotate freely.
A person with frozen shoulder will have a persistently painful and stiff shoulder joint.
This may seriously interfere with his ability to do everyday tasks such as dress and bathe, or even work. Even when the pain starts to improve, the stiffness can be quite disabling. This condition might impede you from reaching overhead, to the side, across your chest, or from rotating your arm all the way around from front to back. This could make it impossible for you to scratch your back or put on your vests/bra.
The shoulder is the only joint that commonly freezes like this.
The bones, ligaments and tendons that make up the shoulder joint are encased in a capsule of connective tissue. Frozen shoulder occurs when this capsule thickens and tightens around the shoulder joint restricting its movement. This biological puzzle is yet to be unraveled, meaning the exact cause of the freezing remains a mystery till date.
If you don’t put shoulder complex through a wide range of motion on a regular basis through everyday activities and exercise, the ligaments and tendons in this area won’t receive an optimal supply of blood for nourishment and removal of waste products. Over time, lack of optimal blood circulation to these ligaments and tendons can cause them to tighten up. Regular stretching of the shoulder joint and strengthening of the muscles around your shoulder can greatly reduce the chances of developing a frozen shoulder in later life.
Frozen shoulder is not a repetitive strain /overuse injury, in fact as previously stated it is frequently brought on by a period of immobilization.
Your treating doctor will routinely ask for X rays and Ultrasound / MRI scans to rule out other concomitant conditions such as Shoulder Arthritis, Rotator cuff tears in the shoulder. Provided your scans are negative, there is no restriction of activities for a person with frozen shoulder.
If untreated, the tissues in the shoulder can further tighten leading to varying degrees of permanent stiffness and residual disability in the shoulder joint.
Placing an ice pack on your shoulder for 15 minutes at a time several times per day can help to decrease pain. If you’re working with a physical therapist, the exercises can be done at home. Your physical therapist will provide instructions on the types of exercises you must do, how often to do them, and when to push yourself harder.
Once thought to be a self limiting condition, frozen shoulder is becoming a chronic and difficult condition to overcome with the current stress induced urban lifestyle. The key to unlocking this mystery is early diagnosis and timely intervention by your doctor preferably a shoulder specialist.
Manipal Hospitals is staffed with an experienced orthopedic team with a high level of proficiency in diagnosing and treating all orthopedic and arthroscopic-related conditions. Book an appointment with our arthroscopic specialist here: https://bit.ly/2VpI6bI
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