Frozen Shoulder

  • Introduction

  • Conservative Treatment

  • Surgical Treatment

Due to the shoulder’s extensive use and flexibility, it is one of the most susceptible joints to injury. When scar tissue forms in the shoulder joint, there is little room for movement, causing a condition known as a frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis. Frozen shoulder is more common in when patient have experienced previous inflammatory conditions or have diabetes. The risk of developing this condition increases when recovering from any condition or procedure that prevents moving the arm.

There are three stages of frozen shoulder. The first, known as “freezing”, is normally the most painful and the shoulder loses the most range of motion during this state. Second stage is “frozen,” where the symptoms actually improve but the joint remains stiff, making daily routines difficult. The third stage is “thawing”, where motion progressively improves and the shoulder joint returns to normal strength.
Symptoms of frozen shoulder include pain develops, difficulty in lifting the arm above the head, or extending the arm straight forward and around the back.

This particular condition heals over an extended period of time with medical treatment. Physicians typically prescribe non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medication as well as steroidal injections administered directly to the joint to help with inflammation. Physical therapy is often utilized to restore specific rotary motion and strengthen the joint. 

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If conservative treatments do not relieve symptoms, surgery may be considered with the goal to stretch and release the stiffness in the joint. Arthroscopy is another possibility. In this procedure a small incision is made to cut through the scar tissue that has developed in the capsule of the shoulder, allowing for better movement of the shoulder joint.

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