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Frozen shoulder

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The medical terminology for frozen shoulder is adhesive capsulitis. It’s a painful condition wherein your shoulder becomes stiff and unmovable. However, it stays for a certain period and goes away with proper treatment and self care.

Frozen shoulder is more common in women and usually people above 40 suffer from this chronic condition.

What are the symptoms of frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is a progressive condition which is defined by 3 stages:


You start experiencing the pain, which becomes worse. Your shoulder tends to lose motion.


The pain reduces moderately but your shoulder becomes absolutely stiff i.e. “frozen”. Performing daily activities involving your hand becomes difficult.


The stiffness starts reducing and so the pain. It’s the recovery phase where movement improves considerably.

Each of these stages can last from a month to several. Frozen shoulder can lead to scarring or adhesion in shoulder tissues.

What causes frozen shoulder?

The shoulder joint is enclosed in a capsule which is lubricated by the synovial fluid. This helps in proper movement of the joint. Although the exact reason why frozen shoulder happens is yet to be completely understood, doctors consider that problem arises due to lack of movement.

Chronic illnesses that contribute to frozen shoulder are:

Diagnosis of frozen shoulder

You need to explain the symptoms you are experiencing and present your medical condition to your doctor.

Your doctor will conduct a physical exam on your shoulder to check the pattern of stiffness. You will be asked to raise your shoulder, cross your hands and touch your back with the hands in order to measure the range of motion. Your doctor with then perform the shoulder movement himself. This is known as passive range of motion.

Thereafter, you will need to undergo imaging tests like X ray, ultrasound and MRI of the shoulder or other bones to confirm that you are having frozen shoulder.

Treatment of frozen shoulder

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Pain is managed through NSAIDs and other types of OTC painkillers. If it’s a severe case of frozen shoulder then steroid injection may be given or joint dilation could be performed by injecting sterile water inside the shoulder capsule.

Other lines of treatments are Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and shoulder manipulation. TENS is a technique of numbing the nerve endings of spinal cord that control pain by subjecting them to electric pulses. Shoulder manipulation is moving the shoulder joints under general anaesthesia in order to restore mobility.

If scarring or adhesive tissue has been found, then shoulder arthroscopy may be performed to remove that insignificant part. Recovery from surgery might take 2-3 months.

Home care for frozen shoulder

Your doctor will advise several physiotherapy exercises to regain motion of shoulder. You need to practise them at home by yourself or under the guidance of a physiotherapist

You can take heat and cold compress on the affected shoulder to get considerable relief

Getting rid of frozen shoulder is not an overnight affair. It takes considerable time to get back to daily activities with a normal shoulder. You need to continue the therapies as well the prescribed medicines unless your doctor advises you to stop.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: January 25, 2015

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