A frozen shoulder is what you think it is, stiff like ice and painful when touched. Also known as adhesive capsulitis, a frozen shoulder is a common condition and it typically affects just one shoulder, though it may affect both in some cases. It is a very painful and debilitating condition of shoulder characterised by pain and severe stiffness. It is more common among women. People with diabetes have increased risk of developing frozen shoulder.
What causes Frozen Shoulder?
o The exact cause of frozen shoulder is unknown, however in number of cases, frozen shoulder occurs after a shoulder injury like rotator cuff tear, arthritis or shoulder surgery.
o Poor posture.
o Hormonal and genetic conditions like diabetes, hyperthyroidism can also contribute to frozen shoulder.
How does a Shoulder become Frozen?
Inflammation: In shoulder joint the lax capsule sack becomes sticky and shrunken; the stickiness is brought on through inflammation.
Stiffness: The stiffness is due to an overreaction of body to the inflammation. The body then seems to switch off muscle in a coordinated sequence.
o Night pain, especially when lying on the affected side.
o Sharp shooting pain at front of shoulder, lasting for few seconds.
o Pain reaching for the back pocket when putting on a coat or brushing hair.
Stages of Frozen Shoulder
o Stage I (freezing phase): The patient begins to develop mild pain and stiffness in shoulder joint.
o Stage II (frozen phase): The stiffness remains but the pain begins to decline.
o Stage III (thawing phase): The full range of movement begins to return to the shoulder joint.
o Medical history physical examination by medical expert or physiotherapist.
o X-ray (Orthography): Contrast dye is injected into shoulder joint to demonstrate the characteristic shrunken shoulder capsule of frozen shoulder.
Physiotherapy treatment often involves a wide range of treatment techniques to lelieve pain, improve motion and muscle strength.
For Pain Relief
o Apply ice packs to the shoulder for 15 minutes three to four times daily to reduce pain and inflammation.
o IFT and TENS: These are electrical modalities commonly used to alleviate night pain.
o Short wave diathermy and ultrasound: These are deep heating modalities which help to reduce inflammation and prepare tissues for stretching.
If you experience stiffness in your shoulder joint or are finding it difficult to move your shoulder, you must seek medical attention sooner instead of waiting for it to heal by itself, which it may just not and get worse instead.
— Dr Sandip Chaudhari, Consulting physiotherapist
Image source: Getty Images
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