WHAT IS FROZEN SHOULDER?
Frozen Shoulder or "Adhesive Capsulitis", is a progressive condition in which the shoulder becomes painful and stiff over a period of several months. This condition can last 1 to 5 years, greatly affecting quality of life and overall function. It is almost always self-resolving but can leave people with limited movement and for this reason, treatment is recommended in the early stages.
Since the first frozen shoulder was documented by Codman in 1934 its true cause has never been made clear. Some studies have indicated a possible inflammatory or "fibrosing" condition. The culprit is the sleeve-like structure that holds the ball and socket portion of the shoulder joint together. When the sleeve is not stretched each day, it has a tendency to adhere to itself with tiny adhesions or strings of scar tissue. When you have a painful shoulder (ie. from tendonitis, post breast surgery, injury), you do not move the shoulder as much. Adhesions can then begin to form and the shoulder starts to "freeze" Sometimes a frozen shoulder can develop for no reason at all.
WHO GETS IT?
Anyone, but at greater risk are:
HOW IS FROZEN SHOULDER DIAGNOSED?
Usually diagnosis is made by clinical examination from your physician or physical therapist. Plain X-rays are usually normal but an arthrogram (in which dye is injected into the joint and an X-ray is taken) may show up a contracted joint space. Blood tests are all normal. MRI's are of little help in diagnosing a frozen shoulder. There is usually a predictable pattern of restriction with the greatest limitation being outward rotation (external rotation) then sideways movement (abduction) followed by the least restriction in rotating the arm inward (internal rotation).
- "Painful" Stages
- "Stiffening" Stage
- "Thawing Out" Stage
BENEFITS OF PHYSICAL THERAPY
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