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Frozen Shoulder / Adhesive Capsulitis

What is Frozen Shoulder / Adhesive Capsulitis?

Frozen Shoulder has no defined origin but is more prevalent in the over 40’s population group. Frozen shoulder may exist on its own, or co-exist with other shoulder injuries such as rotator cuff injury or previous dislocation. Frozen shoulder can also occur post surgery, including breast surgery. Frozen shoulders have stages which start with what is known as the ‘inflammation’ stage. This is very painful and can give you constant pain, pain at night and at rest. Gradually the shoulder becomes more restrictive and movements in all directions can be reduced.

How long will it last?

Frozen shoulder is notoriously slow for recovery. Frozen shoulder has a ‘natural’ progression and has been reported to improve over a 12- 18 month time frame without treatment. There is evidence that injection therapy (hydrodilations) and a gentle and gradual strengthening program can assist your long term recovery. If rotator cuff injury co-exists with your frozen shoulder then this may need more extensive management. The practitioners at The Sports Injury Clinic will assess and refer you to an appropriate specialist to assist in your management.

Symptoms

The symptoms of Frozen Shoulder are:

  • Pain or aching in the shoulder and often referring down the side of the arm or back of the shoulder. It may refer to the elbow.
  • Pain that is aggravated by lifting with an outstretched arm or small twisting movements (for example putting your hand behind your back, putting on your seat belt or taking off a jumper).
  • Pain when lying on the shoulder at night that will often wake you.
  • Apprehension to move the arm and noticing gradual loss of movement.

Suggestions for managing Frozen Shoulder

  • Staying active as advised by your physiotherapist and modification of how you use your arm. The practitioners at The Sports Injury Clinic will show you ways of improving how you can use your shoulder with advice and instruction. Keeping your shoulder back and your thumb pointing ‘up’ with lifting is a good start!
  • Taping from your physiotherapist to improve your shoulder posture to avoid developing bad habits that will be difficult to change long term.
  • Learning how to position your shoulder to ‘offload’ the tissues around your shoulder .ie sitting with a pillow under your arm pit to take the weight off your shoulder when at rest.
  • Gentle exercises to strengthen the scapula (shoulder blade) muscles and gradually improving the strength of your rotator cuff muscles. This may start after the inflammatory stage has passed.
  • If you have been injured at work or in sport, our practitioners have approved conditioning programs that will get you back on track sooner with your tailored exercise plan for your frozen shoulder. Your physiotherapist may also recommend Massage Therapy or Acupuncture to assist in reducing pain and improving movement.
  • Your practitioner may refer you to a Sports Physician for further investigations and consideration for specific injection procedures such as hydrodilation.

Professional treatment options

Contact us now for immediate advice regarding Frozen Shoulder.