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Frozen Shoulder

Adhesive capsulitis is typically known by its more common name, Frozen Shoulder. People who injure their shoulder or are recovering from surgery/ a procedure that prevents arm movement for a length of time are prone to developing Frozen Shoulder. Sometimes a minor shoulder issue such as pulling a shoulder muscle can result in the development of Frozen Shoulder. 

Severe pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint are typical of Frozen Shoulder, but may also indicate a range of other issues, making this condition difficult to self-diagnose. So let’s dig a little deeper by breaking down the symptoms and how they can be treated.

The Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder

Shoulder Pain

The first sign you may be developing a frozen shoulder is an aching pain. This can be felt deep inside the shoulder, or in the muscles that wrap around the top of the shoulder and down into the upper arm. The pain is usually one-sided, and often gets worse at night.

Stiffness

If you have a frozen shoulder, the stiffness that comes with it makes it difficult to perform many everyday tasks like brushing and flossing your teeth, working at a computer or driving a car.

Limited range of motion

A Frozen Shoulder can prevent you from moving your shoulder normally. Anything that involves moving your arm above the waist becomes difficult, and reaching up high becomes impossible. Tasks like grabbing something from an upper shelf or getting dressed don’t just hurt, they simply can’t be done.

The Three Stages Of A Frozen Shoulder 

As strange as it may seem, Frozen Shoulder is a condition that can last a very long time. The average duration is one to three years, however without help it is not unusual to suffer from frozen shoulder pain and stiffness for several years. The condition develops in three stages which typically occur months apart from one another:

1 – Freezing

Range of motion in the shoulder is limited, and any shoulder movement is painful.

2 – Frozen

Pain diminishes; however, the shoulder stiffens making it even more difficult to move.

3 – Thawing

Range of motion in the shoulder begins to return.

This is not to say that you can’t do anything about a Frozen Shoulder, in fact, quite the contrary. It is important to have your shoulder assessed, diagnosed and treated as soon as possible to ensure a speedy recovery and prevent any further damage or imbalance elsewhere in the body.

Frozen shoulder

What Causes Your Shoulder to Freeze?

If the connective tissue that encapsulates the tendons, ligaments, and bones of the shoulder joint becomes inflamed, they can tighten around the joint, restricting movement. But why does this happen?

Immobility

Those who have had their arm in a sling for a long period of time are good candidates for frozen shoulder because the shoulder joint has been immobilized, causing the connective tissue around the joint capsule to thicken, contract, and become less elastic. Sometimes a minor shoulder issue can result in the development of Frozen Shoulder. This is one of the reasons it is important to obtain a complete assessment and proper diagnosis of frozen shoulder, to prevent the wrong treatment worsening the situation.

Typical Reasons for Immobility Leading to Frozen Shoulder:

  • Broken or fractured arm
  • Rotator cuff injury
  • Recovery from arm surgery
  • Stroke

Gender

Women over 40 are more likely to develop a frozen shoulder than men in the same age range. This is due to the effect of lower estrogen levels on inflammation. This is the case with other types of inflammation within the body as well, such as tendonitis.

The Diabetes Connection

Studies show that Frozen Shoulder tends to happen more often to people with diabetes. Why exactly this is the case is not clear, however if you have diabetes, careful assessment and care of your joints becomes particularly important.

Other Medical Conditions

As well as diabetes, an overactive or underactive thyroid, heart disease, tuberculosis, or Parkinson’s are all conditions that include an increased risk of developing Frozen Shoulder.

How To Thaw A Frozen Shoulder

If you think you may have a frozen shoulder, a physiotherapist can help by conducting a full assessment of your case and recommending treatment and exercises to restore mobility. These may include:

Heat and ice packs

Alternating warm and cold can help loosen up the shoulder joint before manual therapy begins.

Physiotherapist-guided exercises

Your physiotherapist will use a combination of exercises to increase range of motion in the affected shoulder and reduce the associated pain over time.

Home exercise program

Your physiotherapist will arm you with the proper exercises you need to add to your daily routine in order to thaw a frozen shoulder. In the ensuing weeks and months, your physiotherapist will carefully monitor your progress to ensure your condition is improving.

Life Force Physiotherapy Can Help

Recovering from a frozen shoulder is a process. In some cases, it can take several months for a patient to make a full recovery. A frozen shoulder can be difficult to diagnose and you may exacerbate your condition by attempting to immobilize the joint or increase range of motion without professional guidance.

Book an assessment with Life Force Physiotherapy today. Our physiotherapists can offer the right treatment options to unfreeze your shoulder and guide you back to full range of motion, as quickly and safely as possible. Call today! 416 207 9395

Resources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK97980/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/how-to-release-a-frozen-shoulder

https://www.healthline.com/symptom/shoulder-stiffness#risk-factors

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/frozen-shoulder/symptoms-causes/syc-20372684

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Life Force Physiotherapy
577 Burnhamthorpe Road, Unit 1
Etobicoke, Ontario, M9C 2Y3

Tel: 416 207 9395
Fax: 416 207 3862
Email: info@lifeforcephysio.com

Physiotherapy Clinic Hours:
Monday to Friday 6 AM - 9 PM By Appointment Only

Physio Supervised Exercise Program Hours:
Monday, Wednesday & Friday 12 PM - 7 PM
Tuesday and Thursday 8 AM - 2 PM

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