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What is Frozen Shoulder?

Man assessing for frozen shoulder

Have you ever experienced severe shoulder pain that made it difficult to move your arm? Well, if you have, then you might have had a frozen shoulder. Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a common condition that affects people of all ages, but mostly those over the age of 40.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into what frozen shoulder is, what causes it, and some tips on how to relieve it.

So, what is frozen shoulder? Frozen shoulder is a condition in which the shoulder joint becomes stiff and painful. This stiffness is due to the thickening and tightening of the joint capsule, which surrounds the shoulder joint. The cause of frozen shoulder is not fully understood, but it's believed that it can occur as a result of injury, surgery, or certain medical conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, or heart disease.

Frozen shoulder typically progresses through three stages: the freezing stage, the frozen stage, and the thawing stage. During the freezing stage, you may experience pain and stiffness in your shoulder, which worsens over time. The frozen stage is when your shoulder becomes extremely stiff and movement is severely restricted. The thawing stage is when your shoulder begins to loosen up and regain some of its mobility. This progression and recovery is usually a long process (sorry I know not the news you wanted), but you need to understand this so that you can mentally prepare for the recovery process, it can be frustrating as any pain problem is so its important to be kind and patient with yourself.

Now, let's talk about some tips on how to relieve the pain and stiffness associated with frozen shoulder:

  1. Stretching: Gentle stretching exercises can help improve range of motion and relieve pain. Some simple stretches include shoulder circles, arm swings, and wall climbs. It is important that you do these gently and consistently. It may feel like nothing is happening and you see you improvement but frozen shoulder is unfortunately a long term recovery so take it steady, be kind to yourself and if anything aggravates your symptoms, then stop.

  2. Heat and Ice: Applying heat or ice to the affected shoulder can help reduce pain and inflammation. A warm shower or heating pad can be helpful, as well as an ice pack wrapped in a towel.

  3. Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen may help reduce pain and inflammation. Your doctor may also prescribe stronger pain medications or steroid injections.

  4. Hand On Therapy: I believe getting some hands on physical therapy is paramount in helping to improve range of motion and reducing pain. You will also get some tailor made exercise or self care advice that you can used between treatments to help speed up recovery (that is if you do them!).

  5. Surgery: In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to remove scar tissue and improve shoulder mobility. However, most people with frozen shoulder will see improvement with non-surgical treatments, but it does take time, sometimes up to two years.

In conclusion, frozen shoulder can be a painful and frustrating condition, but there are ways to manage and relieve the symptoms. If you're experiencing shoulder pain or stiffness, please get in touch, together we can determine if you have frozen shoulder and what treatment options may be right for you. Remember to always be patient with the process, as it can take several months to see improvement.


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