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Dealing with a frozen shoulder

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Frozen shoulder can cause stiffness and pain in the affected shoulder. In due time, the shoulder will become difficult to move. This can commonly affect individuals between the ages of 40-60 years old and typically affects women more than men.

frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder involves pain during the initial stage.

The shoulder capsule becomes thick and eventually becomes tight where the rigid bands of tissue known as adhesions occur. In most cases, the amount of synovial fluid in the joint has decreased.

The characteristic indication of this condition is the inability to move the affected shoulder, whether without assistance or with the help of another person. It is best to consult a doctor to fully determine if it is a frozen shoulder.

Stages of the condition

The condition progresses in three stages:

  • Freezing – this stage is characterized with pain. As the pain worsens, the shoulder will lose range of motion and can last from 6 weeks up to 9 months.
  • Frozen – during this stage, the pain starts to improve but the stiffness is still present. Throughout 4-6 months, daily tasks and activities are difficult to perform.
  • Thawing – the motion of shoulder steadily improves during this stage. Close to normal or full strength can be restored in 6 months up to 2 years.

Causes of a frozen shoulder

When it comes to the causes of the condition, it is not yet fully understood. On the other hand, there are certain factors that can put an individual at higher risk for developing a frozen shoulder.

  • Immobilization – the condition can develop if the shoulder has been immobilized for an extended period due to surgery or injuries.
  • Diabetes – frozen shoulder typically occurs more in individuals who have diabetes and the cause is still unknown.
  • Certain diseases – illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease, hypothyroidism, heart diseases and hyperthyroidism can cause the condition.

Symptoms of a frozen shoulder

The pain from the condition is best described as aching or dull. It tends to worsen during the early stages and when the affected arm is moved. Take note that the pain is typically located on the exterior area of the shoulder and oftentimes in the upper arm.

Treatment for a frozen shoulder

The condition usually heals on its own over time, although it can take up to 3 years. The main objective of the treatment of the condition is to minimize the pain as well as restore the strength and motion with the help of physical therapy.

Treating the condition is possible without surgical intervention. It includes the following:

  • Administer non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to control the swelling and pain.
  • Steroid injections particularly cortisone which is a potent anti-inflammatory is injected directly to the affected shoulder joint.
  • Physical therapy exercises whether under the supervision of a physical therapist or a home program can help restore the motion. It usually includes stretching routines or range of motion exercises specifically for the shoulder.
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