Frozen Shoulder: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Join Airrosti’s Zachary Roth, DC as he discusses the signs and symptoms associated with frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis. He addresses various potential causes and describes the symptoms associated with frozen shoulder. Roth also details several traditional treatment options and gives an overview of Airrosti’s non-invasive treatment method.

WHAT IS FROZEN SHOULDER?

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. The bones, ligaments, and tendons that make up your shoulder joint are encased in a capsule of connective tissue. Frozen shoulder occurs when this capsule thickens and tightens around the shoulder joint, restricting its movement.

FROZEN SHOULDER CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS

Most frozen shoulder cases occur when a patient is recovering from a recent shoulder injury, such as a fracture. After an arm or shoulder injury, your shoulder may be left immobilized in a cast or sling while you recover. Shoulder mobility may worsen over time as movement becomes difficult and painful. Eventually, the shoulder joint’s capsule thickens with scar tissue, severely limiting movement and causing shoulder pain.

Certain factors may increase your risk of developing frozen shoulder, such as your age, gender, and medical history. People who are recovering from a shoulder or arm injury are the most susceptible, but women and people over 40 are also at a higher risk of developing frozen shoulder than other demographics.

There are also several medical conditions that appear to increase your risk of developing frozen shoulder, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid conditions, such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stroke

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF FROZEN SHOULDER

Frozen shoulder symptoms typically appear gradually, worsen over time, and then resolve within one to three years. During this time, frozen shoulder syndrome will go through three phases. Each phase may last several weeks or months and can interfere with your quality of life.


3 STAGES OF FROZEN SHOULDER

FREEZING OR PAINFUL STAGE

The first stage is called the freezing stage, lasting from six weeks to nine months. During this stage, shoulder movement is painful, and range of motion is limited. The pain is usually characterized as dull or achy and may worsen at night.

FROZEN STAGE

During the second stage, shoulder pain may begin to diminish, but your shoulder becomes stiff and movement is severely restricted. This stage can last anywhere from three months to a full year.

THAWING STAGE

Finally, your shoulder enters the thawing stage. Over a period of six months to a year, the shoulder’s range of motion will slowly improve. Pain may occasionally recur but will fade out over time.

TRADITIONAL FROZEN SHOULDER TREATMENT OPTIONS

Most frozen shoulder cases resolve on their own, although it may take up to three years. Traditional treatment options focus on managing the painful symptoms, but they may not relieve the true source of the pain.

Your doctor is likely to order x-rays and imaging tests to help determine what’s causing your shoulder pain and rule out any other medical conditions.

Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medicines are often prescribed to reduce pain and swelling. In more severe cases, steroid injections are often prescribed in which cortisone is injected directly into the shoulder joint. Injections can be quite painful, and the pain-relieving effects typically only last for a short period of time.

Physical therapy is often prescribed to improve strength and range-of-motion in the shoulder. In a small percentage of cases, arthroscopic surgery may also be recommended to loosen the joint capsule so that it can move more freely.

AIRROSTI CAN HELP: DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT FOR FROZEN SHOULDER

At Airrosti, we specialize in treating musculoskeletal and soft tissue injuries at the source for fast, effective relief. At the beginning of each treatment, your provider will conduct tests to diagnose the root cause of your pain and develop a targeted treatment plan to fix the problem directly at the source.

We also provide each patient a custom at-home exercise plan to help speed recovery, strengthen the shoulder joint, and prevent future injuries. This quality approach to care allows Airrosti to truly focus on outcomes and help our patients return to their pain-free lives as quickly as possible.

Learn more about how Airrosti works, or give us a call at (800) 404-6050 to find a provider near you.

 

 

Reviewed by Casey Crisp, Doctor of Chiropractic

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