The feeling of pain, discomfort, and stiffness in one’s shoulder joint may be due to a condition called Frozen Shoulder. Also known as adhesive capsulitis, this condition usually gets progressively worse and then resolves within one to three years. You’re at a higher risk of developing a frozen shoulder if you’re someone recovering from a medical illness, injury, or surgery that prevents your arm’s full range of motion. The tendons, ligaments, and bones that make up your shoulder joint are encased in a connective tissue capsule. Frozen shoulder occurs when this capsule expands and compresses around the shoulder joint, restricting its movement.
Certain factors can increase your risk of developing a frozen shoulder. Middle-aged people, especially women, are more likely to develop a frozen shoulder. People who have experienced reduced or no mobility due to whatever reason may develop a frozen shoulder more easily. This immobility could result from injury, a stroke, a lack of activity in one’s daily routine, or surgery recovery. Some people may be at a higher risk of developing a frozen shoulder if they suffer from certain diseases. People with diabetes, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, tuberculosis may develop a frozen shoulder. Patients of Parkinson’s disease are also very likely to develop a frozen shoulder.
The typical symptoms associated with a frozen shoulder can be divided into three stages. First comes the “freezing state,” where any movement of the shoulder causes pain, due to which one starts to limit their range of motion. Next is the “frozen stage.” Here, the pain may no longer be as pronounced, but the joint grows stiffer due to the limited use of the shoulder. Lastly, is the “thawing stage” here, once starts to regain their original range of motion as they no longer experience the pain associated with the movement of the joint. The feelings of discomfort and pain may be more pronounced while trying to sleep, thus reducing sleep quality. Each stage may last a couple of months or longer, depending on the severity and the kind of treatment a patient receives.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms described above, or have recently gone through some injury or operation involving the shoulder, please consult a doctor. A doctor can help diagnose the problem effectively, allowing for proper treatment. A frozen shoulder can be a great source of pain and discomfort, having long term consequences such as reduced activity and productivity. Effective treatment can help avoid developing severe symptoms of a frozen shoulder and help speed up recovery. Performing physical therapy can be an effective treatment for a frozen shoulder. Practicing range-of-motion exercises, general stretching, and strength training can help reduce the problem. Use of pain medication, numbing injections into the joint capsule, and corticosteroids can speed up recovery. In rare cases, surgery may be performed to loosen the joint and help the shoulder move more freely. If treated effectively, a frozen shoulder does not need to be a serious medical problem.