Frozen shoulder is a term that often gets used for people who have shoulder pain. However, there are very specific symptoms that would mean you have frozen shoulder and it usually only affects people from a particular age range. It can be quite a debilitating problem with very limited range of movement, sharp severe pain on moving the arm and it can be particularly troublesome trying to sleep at night, particularly on the affected shoulder.
A frozen shoulder typically affects women more than men, and in Japan it is turned 50-year-old disease – it typically affects people from the mid 40s through to the mid 60s. Sometimes we don’t know why frozen shoulder comes on, but it can be particularly prevalent in people with diabetes, and it can also happen after a trauma, such as broken arm bone or after a bad fall on the shoulder.
Diagnosing a frozen shoulder is based on the patient’s story including any medical history, age, gender and the presence of any trauma as well as assessing range of movement, but also with the support of imaging such as an x-ray, to rule out significant arthritis within the joint and then possibly an MRI to assess if the shoulder joint capsule has been affected.
People who have a frozen shoulder will usually be unable to lift their arm out to the side or up behind their back and will also have very limited rotation of the arm out to the side. Frozen shoulder is an inflammatory condition of the shoulder joint capsule. The shoulder joint is a very mobile joint and the capsule is quite loose allowing such a great range of movement. In a frozen shoulder the capsule becomes inflamed, which causes pain, and it also contracts which limits range of movement.
Frozen shoulder is a self-limiting condition, in that it will get better on its own in time. But depending how bad the frozen shoulder is this could take anywhere from 2 to 4 years to resolve without any intervention. There are numerous things that can be done to help treat a frozen shoulder. Perhaps the simplest thing to do is to take paracetamol and ibuprofen and do some stretching exercises to help restore range of movement and manage the pain. However, these will not be magic cure.
One of the most effective things that can be done to treat this condition is a shoulder joint injection with a steroid to help manage the inflammation. A frozen shoulder that is caught relatively early and treated with injections followed by physiotherapy to aid movement and help control pain may help it resolve a little bit quicker, in say 3 to 6 months for example. If you think you have a frozen shoulder visit Wandsworth physiotherapy for assessment and a treatment plan.