The Frozen Shoulder Conundrum...

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder (also known as adhesive capsulitis) is a condition where the shoulder stiffens and becomes painful. It is a severely self-limiting condition with an unknown etiology. From the other two articles this month, we know that shoulder is ball and socket joint with an almost 360 degree range of movement and is supported by a variety of soft tissue. In a frozen shoulder, the capsule of soft tissue fibers that surround the shoulder joint hardens and scar tissue formation occurs. This severely limits movement in the individual’s shoulder.

Why does it happen?

Although a large amount of research has been conducted, no one is quite sure how or why it occurs. However we do know that there are certain risk factors at play and two types of frozen shoulder.

What might put me at risk?

Frozen shoulders are known to more likely occur in the following:

  • More prevalent in females in comparison to males.
  • More likely to occur between the ages of 40-65 years old.
  • Individuals who suffer from diabetes are more likely to suffer from the condition.
  • Individuals who may have suffered from trauma to the arm or after period of immobilization.
  • It is known to be more common in individuals who have suffered from autoimmune diseases, stroke or myocardial infarction.

Overall the condition tends to affect 2 to 5 % of the population at any given times in their lives and can take from a year to two years to full recover.

A variety of Frozen Shoulders?

Interestingly, even though the root cause of frozen shoulders may not be known, it can still be divided into two categories: Primary or Secondary.

Primary: Any frozen shoulder that occurs without a traumatic event.

Secondary: Occurs after a traumatic or surgical event.

I think I might have a frozen shoulder?

The shoulder is a complex joint and there are many different conditions that may affect it. It’s important to get a thorough diagnosis from a Doctor or Physiotherapist. Common symptoms that an individual might suffer from depend on the stage that their condition is in. The stages are described as following:

·       Stage 1/Freezing/Painful – In the first stage you shoulder will start to ache and you may find that certain movements become painful.

·       Stage 2/ Frozen/stiffening – Usually the pain stays the same or decreases but this is the stage when movement is most limited. Simple everyday tasks such as washing your back or putting on your bra will become extremely difficult.

·       Stage 3/Thawing/Resolution – This is the stage where tasks become easier as you regain more movement in that right shoulder.

It is important to seek professional advice in regards to a shoulder problem/injury in order for correct diagnosis and treatment. A physiotherapist will be able to help to educate you further about frozen shoulders whilst prescribing you with the required stretching and mobility program to help you with your problem.

Please contact your local physio or the therapy team at East Coast Practitioners to have your shoulder looked at. Don’t suffer in silence!

The physiotherapist

East Coast Practitioners