Frozen Shoulder: Causes, Risk Factors and Treatments

With a frozen shoulder, the shoulder becomes rigid, painful, and limited in all directions of motion. Among the symptoms of a frozen shoulder are:

  • Stiffness that initially worsens but progressively improves over time
  • Dull, throbbing pain that increases as the disease progresses and may be exacerbated by arm movement.

A frozen shoulder may develop between two and nine months. Although the discomfort may gradually resolve, stiffness and limited range of motion persist.

What are the causes of frozen shoulder?

We do not completely comprehend the cause of frozen shoulder, but inflammation is likely implicated. Occasionally, paralysis occurs when the shoulder has been frozen for an extended period due to an injury, surgery, or illness. In many instances, the cause is unclear. Fortunately, the shoulder can typically be defrosted, although complete recovery requires time and much self-help.

Typically, the process begins with an injury or inflammation of the soft tissues caused by overuse injuries like bursitis or tendinitis of the rotator cuff. Inflammation causes pain that worsens with movement and limits the range of motion in the shoulder.

When the shoulder is frozen in this manner, the connective tissue encircling the glenohumeral joint, known as the joint capsule, thickens and contracts, losing its normal elasticity. Attempting to avoid the discomfort induced by shoulder movement causes the capsule to contract further. The humerus has less capacity to move, and the joint may lose its synovial fluid. In advanced cases, adhesions (bands of scar tissue) form between the joint capsule and the humeral head.

Who suffers from a frozen shoulder?

The following variables increase the likelihood of a frozen shoulder:

  • Rotator cuff disorders
  • Immobility caused by a stroke, cardiac condition, or surgery
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Parkinson’s disease

What are the treatments for frozen shoulder?

Consult a clinician or shoulder specialist for a physical examination if you suspect you have or are already developing a frozen shoulder. To evaluate the range of motion in your shoulder, the clinician will ask you to perform various arm movements.

Your healthcare provider may take X-rays to dismiss other underlying conditions, such as arthritis or dislocation. To detect rotator cuff tears, an MRI may be prescribed.

The goal of treatment for a frozen shoulder is to alleviate discomfort and restore a normal range of motion. Your healthcare provider will devise your treatment plan. Treatment for frozen shoulder may include:

  • Aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen
  • Applying an ice compress to the shoulder for 10 to 15 minutes several times a day
  • Injecting a corticosteroid into the shoulder joint or soft tissues

Physical therapy is the cornerstone of treatment, particularly emphasising stretching and strengthening exercises.

As you strive to extend the shoulder capsule, you should avoid overhead reaching, lifting, and other activities that exacerbate your discomfort. Suppose you diligently perform your frozen shoulder exercises. In that case, you’ll likely be able to resume your normal activity level.

However, complete recovery from a frozen shoulder can take anywhere from several months to several years. If you do not experience steady improvement or reach a plateau, consult your clinician or a shoulder specialist. Rarely do stubborn instances necessitate surgery.

Recent Articles