Frozen Shoulder/ Adhesive Capsulitis

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What is a Frozen Shoulder?

A Frozen Shoulder is medically known as Adhesive Capsulitis. This is a condition where the shoulder capsule becomes inflamed and stiff. Due to this stiffness it will restrict the range of movement we have at our shoulder joint.

What are the symptoms of Frozen shoulder?

A person suffering from a frozen shoulder will have restrictions in both their ‘active’ and ‘passive’ range of movement.

This means that the the movement the patient can ‘actively’ do on their own will be the same as that as the therapist, who is ‘passively’ carrying out the assessment.

Common complaints that patients will describe they have difficulty with is reaching behind their back, putting on a seat belt, reaching forward and washing hair as common issues they face.

The cause of a frozen shoulder is unknown but it is more commonly seen in people:

  • Post traumatic incidents to the upper limb

  • Diabetics

  • Post operative surgery to the upper limb or breast

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Thyroid related problems

  • Stroke patients

Freezing Stage – Any movement of the shoulder causes pain and your range starts to become limited Can last from 2-9months.

Frozen Stage – Pain begins to diminish. Shoulder will become stiffer and more difficult to use. Lasting around 4-12 months.

Thawing Stage – Range of movement begins to improve. Lasting from 5-24months.

A frozen shoulder may take between 1-2 years to resolve as it will go through the stages as mentioned above. The objective in treating this injury involves controlling the pain and preserving as much range of movement as possible.

How to treating Frozen Shoulder/ Adhesive Capsulitis?

Some pain medications that can be purchased over the counter can help with the pain and inflammation. If these are not helping in the reduction of your pain symptoms you may need to visit your local GP to get something stronger.

By receiving effective treatment it will help shorten the disability that is associated with frozen shoulder. People suffering from this injury need to know that it is a self-limiting condition, meaning it will take its course, and most patient will eventually make a full recovery.

  • Physiotherapy – Aims to stretch the shoulder capsule and maintain Range of movement of the joint. Home exercises focusing on shoulder blade control and strength.

  • Anti-inflammatories

  • Cortisone Injection – Reduce inflammation associated within the joint

  • Hydrodiliation – An injection of sterile water to help stretch the joint from the inside. This is generally coupled with cortisone injection for maximum benefits.

  • Shoulder Manipulation – This is done under general anesthetic.

  • Surgery – Arthroscopy aimed to remove any scar tissue and adhesion.

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