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Frozen Shoulder

Frozen Shoulder

What is a Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is a limited range of motion in the shoulder, often accompanied by pain and stiffness. Also called adhesive capsulitis, it can result from overuse or strain of the shoulder. Certain illnesses or diseases, such as stroke or diabetes, can also cause frozen shoulder.

What Causes Frozen Shoulder?

Frozen shoulder has several causes, most often from injury or surgery. Chronic diseases such as diabetes can also cause frozen shoulder. What happens is the tissue in the shoulder joint stiffens from misuse or lack of use. This makes it more difficult to use the shoulder joint.

Frozen shoulder can affect anyone, but it’s seen more often in people ages 40-70. It also tends to show up more in women (particularly postmenopausal women) than in men.

Diagnosis and Treatment for a Frozen Shoulder

Diagnosis of frozen shoulder includes a physical examination to gauge the lack of range of motion. Your doctor may also have the shoulder x-rayed to make sure the lack of motion isn’t caused by a fracture or arthritis.

In many cases, treatment includes anti-inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs (ibuprofen, Alleve) and applying heat to the area. Then the patient does a series of gentle stretching exercises. The idea is to loosen the tissue and improve range of motion.

In some cases, ice may be applied to reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling. Corticosteroid injections may also be used to reduce pain and inflammation.

In extreme cases, surgery may be needed to loosen the tissue in the joint and allow for better movement and easier physical therapy.

Prevention and Prognosis for a Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder may not be 100% preventable, but there are some steps you can take to try to prevent it. The best method is to gently stretch and use your shoulder after an injury. Make certain you consult with your doctor before doing any exercise with an injury.

The good news is, frozen shoulder should fade over time as the injury heals and you exercise the shoulder more.

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