Medically known as adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder usually affects only one shoulder. It is most commonly found in people with diabetic conditions. This condition causes the swelling of the articular shoulder capsule, swelling and stiffening of it and restricting mobility to an extent. Its medical name is derived from the Latin word adhaerens, capsula and it is meaning sticking, little container and inflammation respectively. This condition commonly occurs in the age group of 40 -60 years and most in women more than men.
A shoulder is made up of a speriodal joint. The other joint has a concave slaught where the round part of one bone fits in. Frozen shoulder is the consequence of thickening of the shoulder joints capsule due to the formation of the scar tissue there. This in turn results in tightening and immobility of the shoulder, even causing pain.
The most common symptom is stiffness in the shoulder join and persistent pain. Frozen shoulder pain is divided into three stages namely painful stage, frozen stage and thawing stage.
Painful stage – This is the first stage of the condition and is very painful. The shoulder stiffens and restricts movement. The pain might aggravates at night.
Frozen stage – This is the second stage of the condition and results in worsening the stiffness of the shoulder. It is restricts the motion to a greater extent compared to the first stage and is painful. The pain thankfully doesn’t worsen.
Thawing Stage – This is the final stage of the condition wherein improvement in the shoulder can be noticed. The pain gradually fades and the shoulder movement improves. But, there are chances of it re-occuring though.
The diagnosis of frozen shoulder involves the following –
A close physical examination of the shoulders by pressing the pain points and checking the arm movement.
An X-ray to reaffirm the same or an MRI.
The most common risk factors for frozen shoulder include -
Diabetes – It is one of the most common causes of frozen shoulder, though the reason is unknown.
Aging – This condition is common amongst people between age groups of 40 -60 years
Stroke – It also occurs amongst people who have suffered from stroke in the past
Other risk factors include Hypothroidism with overactive or underactive thyroids, Parkinsons disease and Cardiovascular disease.
Treatment of frozen shoulder aims in increasing the mobility of the shoulder while decreasing the pain. Having said that, you need to accept the fact that the recovery of frozen shoulder takes a long time and can vary from 6 months to a few years as well.
Compression Packs – Use of Hot and cold compression packs on a regular basis can help you decrease the swelling and pain as well. Its better to use the two alternatively rather than using only one of them.
Exercise- Exercising regularly and mildly can help regain shoulder mobility to a good extent.
Pain Killers – Pain killers like ibuprofen and paracetamol or Tylenol can be taken in case of high pain but its important to not make it a habit. As frozen shoulder could last for a few years as well, its advisable to take them only in dire need and also check with your doctor first before taking any of them to confirm the suitability.
Transutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) - In this treatment procedure, small electric pads are applied to the skin through which small pulses of electricity are passed on with the help of a TENS machine.
Physiotherapy – A physiotherapist helps you through exercises that for lower pain and regaining mobility without straining the shoulder.
Shoulder Arthroscopy – This involves a small surgery wherein an endoscope is inserted through the small incision into the shoulder joint in order to remove the scar tissue.
Shoulder Manipulation – This involves a small surgery wherein the shoulder joint is moved gently and is done in a rather few cases.
Well, Frozen shoulder is a prolonged condition and needs to be tackled smartly with patience. With proper care it might as well fade away in half a year or so, but can rebound as well.
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