Frozen shoulder is a condition that leads to pain and stiffness of the shoulder. It’s also known as adhesive capsulitis or shoulder contracture. The symptoms tend to gradually get worse over a number of months or years. You’ll typically experience shoulder pain for the first two to nine months, which can be severe, followed by increasing stiffness. The stiffness may affect your ability to carry out everyday activities. In particularly severe cases, you may not be able to move your shoulder at all. The condition may improve with time, but this can sometimes take several years.
Symptoms of frozen shoulder
Pain and persistent stiffness in the shoulder joint are the two main symptoms of a frozen shoulder. This makes it painful and difficult to carry out the full range of normal shoulder movements. You may find it difficult to perform everyday tasks, such as: -bathing -dressing -driving -sleeping comfortably Symptoms vary from mild, with little difference to daily activities, to severe, where it may not be possible to move your shoulder at all.
Stages of frozen shoulder
The symptoms of a frozen shoulder usually get worse gradually, over a number of months or years. There are three separate stages to the condition (see below), but sometimes these stages may be difficult to distinguish. The symptoms may also vary greatly from person to person.
Stage one: During stage one, often referred to as the “freezing” phase, your shoulder starts to ache and become very painful when reaching out for things. The pain is often worse at night and when you lie on the affected side. This stage can last anywhere from two to nine months.
Stage two: Stage two is often known as the “frozen” phase. Your shoulder may become increasingly stiff, but the pain doesn’t usually get worse and may even decrease. Your shoulder muscles may start to waste away slightly because they’re not being used. This stage usually lasts 4-12 months.
Stage three: Stage three is the “thawing” phase. During this period, you’ll gradually regain some movement in your shoulder. The pain begins to fade, although it may come back occasionally as the stiffness eases. You may not regain full movement of your shoulder, but you’ll be able to carry out many more tasks. Stage three can last from six months to many years.
Causes of frozen shoulder
Frozen shoulder occurs when the sleeve that surrounds the shoulder joint, known as the capsule, becomes swollen and thickened. In frozen shoulder, bands of scar tissue form inside the shoulder capsule, causing it to thicken, swell and tighten. This means there’s less space for your upper arm bone in the joint, which limits movements.
The following can increase your risk of developing a frozen shoulder: a previous shoulder injury or shoulder surgery diabetes Dupuytren’s contracture – a condition where small lumps of thickened tissue form in the hands and fingers, other health conditions, such as heart disease and stroke, lung disease an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), breast cancer, calcific tendonitis – where small amounts of calcium are deposited in the tendons of the shoulder or rotator cuff tear – the rotator cuff is a group of muscles that control shoulder movements.
Osteopathic treatment for Frozen Shoulder
Once a frozen shoulder is suspected, osteopathic treatment should be started as soon as possible, if the recovery time is to be shortened as much as possible. Medical opinion is that frozen shoulders typically take 18 – 24 months to recover if untreated. The majority that present to me in clinic are not frozen solid as they are seen earlier enough to prevent that. These are then treated and recover normally within 2 to 3 months. It should be remembered that frozen shoulders are often caused by or result in problems in other areas. It is therefore highly important that the cause and underlying factors are properly investigated. Your osteopath will help here looking into any underlying factors as well as posture and lifestyle. This is vital to ensure a rapid recovery as well as ensuring that the injury is not allowed to recur. Your osteopath will use a variety of techniques in your treatment. These range from the very gentle to the rather more forceful depending upon your situation and your preference. They are likely to include treatment to the shoulder as well as to the neck and back coupled with posture and lifestyle advice. Treatment will continue over a period of weeks or months.
Please call the osteopath in Ashford for more information on 07703777323 to find out how we can help you.
Reference: NHS website