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Frozen Shoulder

Also known as adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder commonly affects people between the ages of 40–65, especially those with a history of diabetes and thyroid problems. Those with the aptly named condition have progressive loss of range of motion in the affected shoulder, and pain associated with any shoulder motion. The three stages of frozen shoulder are freezing (highlighted by pain), frozen (highlighted by stiffness), and thawing (highlighted by improvement).

What causes it?

The cause of frozen shoulder is not fully known, but risk factors include:

  • Diabetes: Not only does the condition occur more frequently with those who have diabetes, diabetic patients also experience more stiffness and a longer recovery period.
  • Other diseases: Frozen shoulder is also linked to those with thyroid conditions, Parkinson’s, and cardiac disease.
  • Immobilization: Following a period of arm immobilization for an injury or surgery, patients are at greater risk for developing frozen shoulder.
  • Gender: Frozen shoulder occurs more often in women.

How do you know you have it?

Two common signs of frozen shoulder are:

  • Dull or aching pain that increases
  • Loss of shoulder motion

How we fix it

The OSI orthopedic team is here to listen, discuss your concerns, and examine you for signs and symptoms of frozen shoulder. Our goal is to have you doing simple, everyday things without having to think about them. While under our expert care, you may undergo the following:

  • Physical exam: Your doctor will discuss your symptoms and general medical history and then examine your shoulder. Your doctor will move your shoulder carefully to assess movement limitations and to see if pain accompanies the motion.
  • Imaging: X-rays or MRI may be ordered to rule out other issues in the shoulder.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Frozen shoulder typically improves on its own, although it can take two or three years for symptoms to be alleviated. The vast majority of patients will recover from frozen shoulder through conservative methods:

  • Physical therapy
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Steroid injections

Surgical Treatment

Your OSI physician may recommend surgery if nonsurgical methods are not effective. The goal of surgery is to stretch and release the stiffened joint capsule. The most common surgical method   to release the tissue around the shoulder joint is an arthroscopy, followed by manipulation.

Recovery

Recovery times vary. Following surgery, patient dedication to the prescribed physical therapy regimen is a key factor in the returning to activities.

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