Frozen shoulder is a condition characterized by inflammation and thickening of the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint. This leads to the formation of scar tissue, causing the joint to become stiff and difficult to move. The condition typically progresses through three phases: freezing, frozen, and thawing.
The exact cause of frozen shoulder is often unknown, but certain factors may increase the risk of developing the condition, including:
• Age and gender: Frozen shoulder commonly affects individuals between the ages of 40 and 60, and it is more prevalent in women than men.
• Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, or cardiovascular disease, have been associated with an increased risk of developing frozen shoulder.
• Shoulder injury or surgery: Previous shoulder injuries, fractures, or surgeries can contribute to the development of frozen shoulder.
• Prolonged immobilization: Immobilizing the shoulder due to injury, surgery, or other reasons for an extended period may increase the risk of frozen shoulder.
The symptoms of frozen shoulder typically develop gradually and can vary in severity. Common symptoms include:
• Shoulder pain that worsens with movement or at rest, often located deep within the joint.
• Stiffness and limited range of motion in the shoulder joint, making everyday activities such as reaching or lifting difficult.
• Pain and stiffness that may interfere with sleep and daily functioning.
To diagnose frozen shoulder, healthcare professionals may use the following methods:
• Medical history and physical examination: A thorough evaluation of symptoms, medical history, and a physical examination of the shoulder joint to assess range of motion and identify areas of pain or tenderness.
• Imaging tests: X-rays or MRI scans may be performed to rule out other possible causes of shoulder pain and stiffness.
Treatment options for frozen shoulder aim to reduce pain, improve shoulder mobility, and restore functionality. Some common approaches include:
• Pain management: Over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribed medications may be used to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
• Physical therapy: Customised physical therapy programs, including stretching exercises, gentle joint mobilizations, and manual therapy techniques, can help improve range of motion and reduce stiffness.
• Injections: Corticosteroid injections into the shoulder joint may be administered to provide temporary pain relief and reduce inflammation.
• Hydrodilatation: In some cases, a procedure called hydrodilatation may be recommended. This involves injecting a sterile fluid into the shoulder joint to help stretch and expand the capsule.
• Surgical intervention: In rare cases where conservative treatments fail, surgical options such as arthroscopic release or manipulation under anesthesia may be considered.
Exercises play a crucial role in the rehabilitation of frozen shoulder, but it's important to consult a healthcare professional or a qualified physiotherapist before attempting any exercises. Some useful exercises may include:
• Pendulum exercises: Gentle swinging movements of the arm to promote shoulder mobility and relieve stiffness.
• Range of motion exercises: Controlled movements to gradually increase the shoulder's range of motion, such as forward flexion, external rotation, or abduction.
• Stretching exercises: Gentle stretches targeting the shoulder joint and surrounding muscles to improve flexibility and reduce stiffness.