Adhesive capsulitis, better known as frozen shoulder, is a condition that causes pain in your shoulder, and oftentimes, is stiff as well. Signs and symptoms of the condition begin gradually, but then worsen over time. It can take anywhere from one year to three years to resolve the pain and stiffness from frozen shoulder.
What is Frozen Shoulder?
Frozen shoulder is categorized into three stages. Those stages include the freezing stage, the frozen stage, and the thawing stage, all very aptly named.
In the freezing stage, most shoulder movements will cause pain, and your range of motion will become limited.
In the frozen stage, that pain will not be as present, however, your shoulder will become more and more stiff. Movement is very difficult during this stage.
In the thawing stage, your range of motion will begin to improve and movement will cause little to no pain.
Frozen shoulder occurs when the capsule of connective tissue that surrounds the shoulder structure thickens. When this connective tissue gets thicker and tighter, it begins to restrict the movement of the joint. While it’s unclear why this occurs, doctors have found frozen shoulder to be common in people who recently had to immobilize the joint (as a result of arm fracture, surgery, mastectomy, etc.), and those with conditions such as diabetes.
How is Frozen Shoulder Treated?
There are a variety of ways to treat frozen shoulder. You can self-treat by taking over-the-counter pain medication to reduce the pain, and icing the joint to reduce swelling. Many people seek treatment from a physical therapist because they can guide you through exercises that will help you increase your range of motion. Additionally, corticosteroid injections could be prescribed to help with pain and swelling.
Because doctors aren’t completely sure of the exact cause of frozen shoulder, it’s difficult to actively prevent it. However, frequently exercising and stretching your shoulders, especially after surgery, can help you maintain your range of motion.
If you’re having trouble moving your shoulder, or shoulder movement causes you pain, you could have frozen shoulder. Schedule an appointment with Contact Physical Therapy today. Our therapists are trained to improve mobility and relieve pain. You’ll have your range of motion back (pain-free) in no time!