The condition known as frozen shoulder, often referred to as adhesive capsulitis, causes the shoulder joint to stiffen and ache. Movement is restricted because of the thickening and tightening of the connective tissue capsule that surrounds the shoulder joint.
The three stages of a frozen shoulder often occur in this order: freezing, frozen, and thawing. The shoulder stiffens and hurts more during the freezing period, making it challenging to move. Although the shoulder is still stiff and has restricted movement during the fixed period, the pain may start to lessen.
What can be the causes of a frozen shoulder?
Although the precise reason for a frozen shoulder is unknown, it can occur after an accident, surgery, or because of illnesses including diabetes, stroke, or thyroid issues. Several factors have been identified that can contribute to its development. These include:
- Injury or trauma: Frozen shoulder can result after an injury to the shoulder, such as a fracture or dislocation.
- Surgery: Surgery on the shoulder or close by can result in stiffness and irritation, leading to a frozen shoulder.
- Immobility: Frozen shoulder can result from any condition or circumstance that makes the shoulder immobile, such as a broken arm.
- Diabetes: Frozen shoulder is more common in people with diabetes, presumably as a result of alterations to the connective tissue or blood flow.
- Thyroid disorders: Frozen shoulder risk may be increased by abnormal thyroid function, which can cause connective tissue alterations and inflammation.
- Heart or lung disease: Frozen shoulder is more prone to occur in people with heart or lung problems due to decreased activity and restricted mobility.
- Age and gender: Women and people over 40 are more likely than men to have frozen shoulders.
- Genetics: Frozen shoulder appears to occur in families, therefore it may have a genetic component.
- Other medical conditions: The risk can also be increased by autoimmune illnesses, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke.
What are the symptoms of a frozen shoulder?
Pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint are the main signs of a frozen shoulder. There are three stages to the symptoms, which often appear gradually over time:
- Freezing stage: The duration of this stage can range from a few weeks to several months. This stage is marked by a steady worsening and intensification of the shoulder pain as well as a progressive stiffening of the shoulder joint that makes movement challenging.
- Frozen stage: Up to a year can pass during this stage. Although the pain may start to lessen at this point, the shoulder is still stiff and has only a limited range of motion. Reaching overhead or behind the back becomes challenging or impossible.
- Thawing stage: From a few months to a few years, this stage can last. At this point, the shoulder starts to gradually restore its range of motion, and the pain goes away.
Other symptoms of a frozen shoulder may include:
- Difficulty sleeping due to pain and stiffness in the shoulder
- Weakness in the shoulder muscles
- Limited range of motion in the shoulder joint
- Difficulty performing daily activities such as dressing, reaching, or carrying objects.
Treatment for frozen shoulder usually includes physiotherapy, exercises to help recover range of motion, pain medication, and, in some circumstances, corticosteroid injections. To loosen the tight capsule and regain joint movement in extreme situations, surgery may be required.
Physiotherapy treatment of frozen shoulder
Physiotherapy is a crucial component of the frozen shoulder treatment regimen and can aid in pain relief and shoulder joint mobility restoration. Recovery of range of motion and function in the affected shoulder is the goal of physiotherapy treatment.
Here are some common physiotherapy treatments for frozen shoulders:
- Range of motion exercises: These movements are intended to mobilize and stretch the shoulder joint, hence enhancing flexibility and regaining range of motion. These exercises could involve gradually stretching the shoulder utilizing a pulley system, wand, or other tools.
- Strengthening exercises: Strengthening exercises can aid in developing the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint when the range of motion has been regained, improving stability and support.
- Manual therapy: This involves hands-on techniques where a physiotherapist uses their hands to stretch and move the shoulder joint. Massage, joint mobilization, and soft tissue mobilization are all examples of manual treatment.
- Heat and cold therapy: While cold therapy can assist to lessen swelling and inflammation, heat therapy can aid in easing pain and stiffness. For symptom management, your physiotherapist could advise using heat or cold therapy.
- Ultrasound therapy: High-frequency sound waves are used in this procedure to increase blood flow and encourage healing in the injured area.
- Electrical stimulation: This includes stimulating the muscles around the shoulder joint with low-level electrical currents in order to lessen pain and increase mobility.
- Cupping therapy: Cupping therapy can increase blood flow, reduce inflammation, promote relaxation, and provides pain relief.
- Super inductive system:
The type and duration of physiotherapy may vary depending on the particular case and the severity of the condition, which is crucial to mention. For individualized treatment advice, it is usually preferable to speak with a physiotherapist.