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Frozen Shoulder: What Are The Causes And How Can You Manage It?

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

Frozen shoulder is also known as ‘Adhesive Capsulitis.’ In this condition, the shoulder joint becomes stiff and painful. The buildup to the problem is a gradual process. It may persist up to three years and then it finally goes away. The tissue surrounding the shoulder becomes tight and there is a decrease in synovial fluid which is responsible for the lubrication of the joint. In most people, the recurrence of the frozen shoulder doesn’t happen on the same side.

Frozen Shoulder Causes

  1. Frozen shoulder happens more in women than men. Those who are in the age group of 40 to 60 years are more at risk. If the arm has been immobilized for some time, due to a fracture or an injury, the frozen shoulder may happen.
  2. If you are recovering from specific medical issues like a stroke or an invasive surgery like mastectomy, there could a high risk of suffering from a frozen shoulder.
  3. Diabetes increases the odds of suffering from a frozen shoulder.
  4. Other medical problems like cardiac issues, thyroid problems and Parkinson’s disease also increase vulnerability towards the frozen shoulder.

Frozen Shoulder Symptoms

There are three stages to a frozen shoulder.
  1. Freezing Stage: The problem develops gradually as the movement in the shoulder becomes painful and it starts locking up. The stage lasts from six weeks to nine months.
  2. Frozen Stage: In this stage, the pain may reduce, but the shoulder becomes stiffer. It becomes tough to make any movement through the joint. This stage lasts from four to six months.
  3. Thawing Stage: This is the last stage in which the range of motion improves. This stage may last from six months to two years.

Frozen Shoulder Diagnosis

The doctor will do a physical exam and ask you to move the shoulder. Then the doctor will move the shoulder for you and note the difference. Depending on the severity of the situation, medication will be prescribed. The doctor may do an x-ray or an MRI.

Frozen Shoulder Treatment

Treatment of frozen shoulder aims to reduce pain and restore mobility in the shoulder. Following lines of therapy may be adopted to combat the situation.
  1. Pain Killers: NSAID’s like aspirin and ibuprofen may be given to reduce pain. They also relieve inflammation in the shoulder.
  2. Physical Therapy: Shoulder-specific exercises are recommended to restore motion. These can be done at home even. Sometimes heat treatment may be given to loosen up the shoulder and then only stretching or frozen shoulder exercises may be done.
  3. Steroid Injections: A corticosteroid injection may be given if the pain doesn’t go away with NSAID’s.
  4. Joint Distention: In this procedure, the doctor may inject some amount of a sterile liquid into the joint for shoulder expansion and stretching.
  5. Surgery: If all the usual methods of treating frozen shoulder don’t relieve the pain and the symptoms, surgery might be the next option. The chances of this happening are very rare as the problem usually gets treated with conservative methods.
Also Read: How to Relieve Tension in Neck and Shoulders Resulting from Anxiety: Proven Techniques and SolutionsDisclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.Links and product recommendations in the information provided here are advertisements of third-party products available on the website. PharmEasy does not make any representation on the accuracy or suitability of such products/services. Advertisements do not influence the editorial decisions or content. The information in this blog is subject to change without notice. The authors and administrators reserve the right to modify, add, or remove content without notification. It is your responsibility to review this disclaimer regularly for any changes.


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