Understanding Frozen Shoulder : An In-depth Look
The human body is a marvel of interconnected systems, and the shoulder is no exception. This joint, crucial for myriad daily activities, can sometimes be plagued with a condition known as frozen shoulder or, more medically termed, adhesive capsulitis. For those encountering this term for the first time or those looking for a deeper understanding, this article aims to shed light on the intricacies of frozen shoulder.
What is Frozen Shoulder?
Frozen shoulder occurs when the flexible tissue that surrounds the shoulder joint, known as the joint capsule, experiences inflammation. As a result, the capsule thickens and tightens, severely restricting the ability to move the joint. In some severe cases, individuals with frozen shoulder have limited range of motion both when moving their arm actively and passively.
What Causes Frozen Shoulder?
The exact cause remains elusive to medical professionals. However, some risk factors have been identified. These include prolonged immobility due to surgery, injury, or other medical conditions. The rotator cuff area is a group of muscles and tendons that secure the upper arm bone within the shoulder socket. When these areas are immobilised for extended periods, the risk of developing frozen shoulder increases.
Moreover, certain diseases and conditions can heighten the risk. Diabetes, for example, affects the connective tissue and can lead to a higher propensity for adhesive capsulitis.
Diagnosing Frozen Shoulder
The diagnosis of frozen shoulder is primarily based on a physical examination. A doctor may ask you to move your arm in various directions actively and passively to check for pain and evaluate the range of motion. The passive range of motion is particularly telling. People with frozen shoulder will experience limitations even when a doctor attempts to move the arm for them.
Treatment for Frozen Shoulder
There’s good news for those facing this painful condition: treatment is available. The primary goals are to alleviate pain and restore normal range of motion. Here are some common treatments:
- Physical Therapy: This remains a cornerstone for managing frozen shoulder. Regular physical therapy, focusing on range of motion exercises, can help stretch the shoulder joint capsule, restore flexibility, and alleviate pain over time.
- Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs can be of immense help. In some severe cases, stronger pain-relief medication may be prescribed.
- Joint Distension: In cases where movement is highly restricted, doctors might inject sterile water into the shoulder capsule to stretch it. This can help improve range of motion.
- Surgery: In rare and extreme cases, surgery may be required to remove scar tissue and adhesions within the shoulder joint.
Preventing Frozen Shoulder
While it might not be possible to avoid every case, there are steps to lower the risk. If you have had an injury or surgery that affects the rotator cuff or the area around the shoulder joint, it is crucial to begin gentle exercises to prevent stiffness. These can be prescribed by a physical therapist or orthopaedic specialist.
Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is more than just a painful inconvenience. It can significantly hinder daily activities and quality of life. Awareness, diagnosis, and assessment can be very helpful for the road to recovery.
For those at Glenelg Orthopaedics and beyond, always remember that a proactive approach to shoulder health can go a long way in ensuring that you move your arm with ease and comfort.
For more in-depth information, consultation, or personalized advice, visit glenelgorthopaedics.com.au.