Frozen shoulder, medically known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. If left unchecked the shoulder can become very hard to move. Adhesive capsulitis occurs in about 2 percent of the general population affecting mostly people aged between 40 and 60 years. It occurs in women more than men.
The shoulder is a ball and socket joint consisting of three bones; the humerus, the scapula, and the clavicle. The humerus is the upper arm bone, the scapula is the shoulder blade, and the clavicle is the collarbone.
The humerus fits into a shallow socket in the shoulder blade and the joint is held into place by strong connective tissue also known as shoulder capsule. Synovial fluid lubricates the joint and the shoulder capsule to help the shoulder move easily. In adhesive capsulitis, the shoulder capsule thickens and become rigid and resistant to movement. It mostly occurs when there isn’t enough synovial fluid in the shoulder.
Frozen shoulder develops in three stages;
- Freezing – where you experience increasing levels of pain. As the pain gets worse, the shoulder will lose range of motion. It lasts between 6 weeks to 9 months.
- Frozen – the frozen stage is where pain symptoms improve but the stiffness actually worsens. This stage typically lasts between 4 to 5 months and during this period accomplishing daily activities can become very difficult.
- Thawing – in this stage shoulder motion considerably improves. The affected person should return to normalcy or near normalcy within 6 months to one year.
The condition is in most cases associated with an injury though it may also be offset by over use of drugs or from diseases such as stroke and diabetes.
You’re likely to be affected if you stop using that shoulder because it is injured. Basically, any condition that causes the shoulder not to be used in full range motion can cause frozen shoulder.
The following are a few important facts about frozen shoulder;
- It occurs more in people with or who have suffered from diabetes in the past. Indeed, it affects between 10 percent and 20 percent of these individuals. The reason for this remains unknown.
- Several other medical conditions may cause frozen shoulder. These include Parkinson’s disease, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and cardiac disease.
- Surgery, fracture, or any other injury that makes the shoulder immobile for a significant amount of time may also cause frozen shoulder.
Signs and symptoms
The most prominent symptom of frozen shoulder is dull or aching pain on the affected part. The pain can be felt on the outer parts of the shoulder and sometimes on the upper arm especially when you move the affected shoulder.
The physician will try to move you arm in all directions. Normally they will compare the range of motion when a healthy person moves an arm (passive range of motion) with the range of motion when you move the affected arm (active range of motion).
X-ray imaging and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also be conducted.
Frozen shoulder can be treated using surgical or non-surgical methods. At SportsMed Physical Therapy centers, we apply physical therapy in treating the condition. First we’ll administer non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) then apply heat to the affected area to loosen the synovial fluid. After that we introduce the patient to specially designed range of motion exercises.
We have four (4) treatment centers conveniently situated in northern New Jersey.
• Fair Lawn - 14-26 Plaza Road, Fair Lawn, NJ 07410; Phone – 201-797-7373
• Clifton - 1233 Main Ave, Clifton, NJ 07011; Phone – 973-928-1144
• Ho-Ho-Kus - 197 East Franklin Turnpike, Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ 07423; Phone – 201-447-0346
• Franklin Lakes - 784 Franklin Ave. Suite 230, Franklin Lakes, NJ 07417; Phone – 201-891-0090