Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis is a medical condition that affects the shoulder joint by limiting its range of motion. It often involves pain and stiffness that can get worse as joints become thicker and tighter. This condition is more common among people aged between 40 and 60. You have an increased risk of getting a frozen shoulder if you are recovering from an injury or illness like mastectomy or stroke.
Frozen shoulder usually develops in stages, but the main symptoms are pain and stiffness, making it hard to swing your arm. The three stages of frozen shoulder include:
- You start feeling pain every time you move your arm.
- Limited range of motion
- The pain worsens over time and can be more severe at night.
- This can go on for about 6 to 9 months.
- Moving the shoulder becomes harder, making it difficult to use that arm.
- The pain may lessen, but the stiffness gets worse.
- This stage can last between 4 and 12 months.
- The range of motion starts improving, which can take anywhere between 6 months and two years.
Causes of Frozen Shoulder
It is still unclear why some people develop frozen shoulders, but certain groups are more at risk than others. For instance, if you have a weak immune system, diabetes, or hormonal imbalance, you are at risk of joint inflammation. In addition, a long period of arm inactivity due to an illness, injury, or surgery makes you vulnerable to getting a frozen shoulder.
You can choose to leave the condition untreated, but the pain and stiffness can go up to three years. Going that long without being able to move your arm or enduring the pain is too much, hence the need for treatment the moment you are diagnosed with this condition. Some forms of treatment you can undergo include:
To reduce joint inflammation and treat the pain, a doctor can give you some anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen sodium.
The most common treatment for a frozen shoulder is physical therapy. As seen in frozenshoulderclinic.com/frozen-shoulder-exercises/, PT exercises help stretch the shoulder joints to restore movement. The process can take several weeks to nine months, depending on the patient. PT can also be combined with home care, where one places an ice pack on the shoulder several times a day to reduce the pain. If you do not see any progress after about six months of exercising, talk to your doctor about exploring other options.
If the above methods do not improve your condition, the other alternative is surgery. Under general anesthetic, the surgeon will try to manipulate the shoulder through various movements to break any adhesions. Surgery is considered an outpatient procedure, and within ten days, your stitches may be removed. Three months after the surgery, most patients usually recover with a full range of motion.
To prevent a frozen shoulder from getting worse, get early treatment. This allows the doctor to recommend the right treatment that will allow you to recover within a short time.