What Causes Frozen Shoulder and How to Fix It?

Frozen shoulder is one of the most common medical conditions worldwide. It affects two to five percent of the population, limiting shoulder mobility. Also known as adhesive capsulitis, it causes a number of symptoms that worsen over time. Even though this condition goes away on its own without one to three years, it still requires adequate treatment. The pain and discomfort can be debilitating.

What Is Frozen Shoulder?

Your shoulder consists of three bones that are held together by the shoulder capsule, which is lubricated by synovial fluid. When you suffer from a frozen shoulder, the capsule thickens and becomes rigid. This can limit shoulder flexibility and make it difficult to move your arm.

Over time, the amount of synovial fluid decreases and scar tissue forms all over. Without treatment, the shoulder capsule becomes stiff, painful, and swollen.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of frozen shoulder is unknown. However, it appears that some people are more likely to develop this condition. Common risk factors include:

  • Diabetes
  • Shoulder surgery
  • Open heart surgery
  • Shoulder injury
  • Thyroid disease
  • Recent trauma to the arm or shoulder
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke

As you age, your risk of developing frozen shoulder increases. This medical problem also seems to be more common in women. Diabetics are, particularly at risk. Studies indicate that 10 to 20 percent of all cases are diagnosed in people with diabetes, and symptoms tend to be more severe.

If you have any of the conditions listed above and experience pain in your shoulder, consult a healthcare provider. Early diagnosis can improve your quality of life and help you receive the treatment you need before your symptoms worsen.

Frozen Shoulder Symptoms to Watch Out for

This condition doesn’t represent a medical emergency. However, its symptoms can become troublesome and affect your daily life. You may have a difficult time working, exercising, moving around, and doing simple things like writing, typing, or driving.

Most sufferers experience a painful, persistent stiffness of the shoulder. Some are unable to move their upper arm at all. Others report increased pain at night. The symptoms develop gradually, become worse, and then start to improve.

Medical professionals can diagnose your condition through a physical examination and imaging tests, such as X-rays, ultrasound, or MRI. They will also rule out other disorders with similar symptoms and then develop a treatment plan.

Treatment Options for Frozen Shoulder

If left untreated, frozen shoulder takes at least two years to improve. In severe cases, it can last for as long as five years. Treatment aims to restore your flexibility and range of motion while reducing the intensity and severity of pain.

Depending on your symptoms, doctors may recommend physical therapy, pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs, shoulder manipulation, or steroid injections. Surgery is rarely used. In general, physiotherapy is the most commonly prescribed treatment for frozen shoulder.

A skilled physiotherapist can teach you exercises that improve mobility and speed up recovery. He may also recommend specific mobilization and massage techniques as well as dry needling, acupuncture and other treatment methods.

If you live in New York, we can help. Our physiotherapists have years of experience in frozen shoulder treatment, injury rehab, massage therapy, cupping, and more. Get in touch with us to schedule an appointment!

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