Frozen shoulder syndrome can impact your life

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Adhesive capsulitis is often referred to as frozen shoulder syndrome, and it can prevent you from being able to move your shoulder area or, sometimes, your entire arm. This condition is rare for people who are healthy however it frequently affects patients who have suffered from some other type of illness or injury.

Frozen shoulder syndrome is not a sudden onset occurrence and, instead, develops gradually over time. The condition usually progresses in three stages. The first stage is commonly referred to as “The Freeze.” During this initial stage of the syndrome, the range of motion in your shoulder will begin to decrease. You will also begin to experience tinges of pain as you perform any movement that that engages your shoulder area. Often, the pain will intensify at night which will make it very difficult to sleep. The second stage is known as the “frozen” stage and your shoulder will become extremely stiff. Using the shoulder becomes almost impossible but the pain will start to gradually decrease. The final stage of this syndrome is referred to as “the thaw” and this is when the pain almost completely disappears and the shoulder’s range of motion begins to return.

In order to understand the cause of frozen shoulder syndrome, it is important to understand the anatomy of the shoulder area. The shoulder is a joint just like your knees and elbows are joints. It is made up of a complex network of tendons, ligaments and bones that are surrounded by connective tissue. When that encasement of tissue thickens, the joint is constricted and that results in the inability to achieve the joint’s original range of motion.

People who suffer from frozen shoulder syndrome almost always suffer from some other illness or injury. There are particular diseases and illnesses that increase the likelihood that you will develop frozen shoulder syndrome. Diabetics and sufferers of thyroid related diseases are among those that have an increased risk of having a shoulder freeze. Patients with hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are at particular risk. Those who have been diagnosed with tuberculosis or Parkinson’s disease are also at an increased risk. Cardiovascular heart disease is one of the fastest growing illnesses in America and frozen shoulder syndrome often accompanies diseases that affect the cardiovascular system.

Several types of injuries can also cause a shoulder to freeze. In particular, injuries that cause the shoulder to be immobile or heavily restricted from normal movement can lead to the thickening of the connective tissue in the shoulder joint area. There are 40,000 rotator cuff surgeries performed every year in America. When the rotator cuff is injured, you cannot move your arm and shoulder as you normally would. This lack of movement can lead to a freeze. Broken arms can also cause a shoulder to freeze after a period time of restricted movement.

Other, non-arm related injuries, can also cause a patient to develop frozen shoulder syndrome. Strokes often leave their victims unable to move all or parts of their bodies. If the stroke prevents an individual from being able to move one or both arms, the joints may freeze. There are also some surgeries that have long periods of recovery. If during the recovery period, the patient is prevented from being able to fully move their shoulder, they may develop frozen shoulder syndrome.
Your doctor can perform a thorough examination to diagnose your problem as frozen shoulder syndrome. You will be required to move your arm in a variety of ways so that your physician can check your range of motion. This will also give you the opportunity to vocalize the positions and movements that cause pain so that your doctor can fully understand what you are experiencing. In some cases, you may have x-rays or an MRI so that your medical provider can see if there are any other problems that could be causing or contributing to your pain and decreased range of mobility.

Once you are diagnosed with frozen shoulder syndrome, several paths of treatment are available depending on the extent and original cause of the problem. You may be encouraged to begin physical therapy. Each physical therapy session usually last between thirty minutes and an hour. During each session, you will work with a professional therapist to perform a series of stretches and exercises that are designed to alleviate your problem. There may some medicinal treatment options as well. Common medications like Ibuprofen or Advil may be ordered to help with pain.

If therapy and medication does not solve the problem, you may have to undergo more intensive options. Corticosteroid injections in your should may alleviate pain and help to increase your range of motion. A general anaesthetic is another option. Under general anaesthesia, you will be to sleep so that you will not feel the pain involved manipulating your shoulder. A joint dissection procedure may also be performed. This includes the insertion of a sterile water into the joint capsule. The most invasive procedure is surgery. The surgeon will cut into your shoulder to remove the scar tissue. These cuts are small and don’t leave large scars.

Frozen shoulder syndrome is a painful condition and can certainly limit your ability to perform daily tasks and to live your life to the fullest.

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