A painful shoulder that is stiff may have frozen shoulder syndrome also known as adhesive capsulitis. Most patients’ symptoms will be a gradual onset of stiffness and pain. It often becomes difficult to do simple activities such as brushing your hair or putting on a seatbelt. Frozen shoulders occur most commonly between the ages of 40 and 60 and more women have this problem than men. Over time the tissues that connect the ball and shoulder blade within your shoulder become inflamed and thickened me which makes the shoulder tight developing adhesions in the shoulder.
A good history and physical examination will demonstrate the loss of range of motion when I try to move the shoulder for you as well as when you try to move the shoulder for yourself. X-rays and MRI can be used at times to rule out other problems within the shoulder.
How long does the Frozen Shoulder condition last?
Most frozen shoulders run through a course of freezing and then they stay frozen for a while and they will ultimately “thaw over time.” This can take anywhere from weeks to years to run through its course. The cause of a frozen shoulder is not fully understood but has been associated with diabetes and other medical problems such as hyperthyroidism and heart disease. Another cause of a frozen shoulder is after a long period of immobilization such as after a shoulder surgery or fracture.
What are the treatments for Frozen Shoulder?
Frozen shoulder treatment for most patients involves waiting to give it time to run its course, but this can take months. During this time a course of anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy are very important. An occasional steroid injection may be necessary to relieve pain and decrease the inflammation and tightness within the shoulder. Surgery may be recommended for those patients whose symptoms do not get better or have difficulty with their work or activities of daily living. This arthroscopic procedure carefully releases the tightened tissues to immediately improve the range of motion and pain. This procedure combined with physical therapy provides a very successful and reliable treatment for frozen shoulders. If you have any questions about frozen shoulders, please feel free to contact me or schedule an appointment.