Burrrrggggghhhhhh…is it cold outside? No! That is just your Frozen Shoulder! Luckily with a Frozen Shoulder, also known as Adhesive Capsulitis, the shoulder does not truly feel cold or that would just really be awful! We call this condition a Frozen Shoulder because the joint capsule “freezes” up and becomes restricted due to pain and inflammation in the joint. The bones, ligaments and tendons that make up your shoulder joint are encased in the joint capsule. The joint capsule thickens and tightens around the shoulder joint, thus restricting its movement.
When the shoulder becomes “Frozen” the range of motion and strength becomes restricted and simple things like reaching up in the cabinet or fastening a bra for a woman become a very difficult task. So how do you know if you have a Frozen Shoulder?
Frozen Shoulder comes on very slowly. It begins with an ache in the shoulder and is followed pain with any movement of the shoulder. Next your shoulder motion will start to become restricted. The pain may then begin to diminish, however, your shoulder will become stiffer, and using it will become more difficult. For some people pain may worsen and night. It is also difficult to sleep on the side of the shoulder that is frozen. Over time you will notice that you are unable to perform movements overhead, behind the back and reaching behind.
How do you get a Frozen Shoulder? Most of the time a Frozen Shoulder will develop from trauma to the shoulder or pain that causes one to stop using their shoulder for a period of time. It can also occur after surgery or from immobilization of the shoulder due to a fracture. Does this sounds like something you may have? If so here are some ways you can be helped!
The most conservative and most successful treatment for Frozen Shoulder is Physical Therapy. Your primary physician can prescribe pain medication to reduce the swelling and pain but this is not going to get your movement and strength back. Physical Therapy is tough and requires commitment to your program, but if you stick with it you have a great chance of making a full recovery and returning to your daily activities and hobbies pain free and without limitations. A typical physical therapy treatment involves hands on stretching and shoulder mobilization to restore movement and reduce pain in your shoulder joint. This is followed by an exercise program that you will be instructed in by your Physical Therapist to maintain the movement gained. Your Physical Therapist will issue you a Home Program. It will be imperative that this home program be performed 2-3 times daily in order to make consistent gains. Once the shoulder becomes frozen, it takes time and commitment to restore the shoulder to it’s original state. It can take sometimes 6 months to a year to completely restore the shoulder’s original function if the restrictions are severe.
Hopefully you now have a better understanding of what a Frozen Shoulder is! If this sounds like something you may be suffering with make an appointment with your Local Physical Therapist and get on the path to recovery so you can do the things you love to do!
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