Ice is frozen, and you may be able to freeze food, but who has ever heard of frozen shoulder? Unlike freezing food and water, your shoulder does not freeze because of freezing temperatures. Do not get me wrong; hypothermia can cause you to freeze, but this is not what I mean when I say frozen shoulder. It also has nothing to do with your attitude either. You may be familiar with the term “cold shoulder.” You have probably heard someone say something like “they gave me the cold shoulder.” Frozen shoulder has nothing to do with mood or temperature, but everything to do with pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint.
Frozen shoulder is also termed adhesive capsulitis. The shoulder has a capsule that is connected to the humerus bone. The shoulder capsule is made of connective tissue that surrounds the joint. When the tissue is inflamed, it causes frozen shoulder. The shoulder has a wide range of motion due to the ball and socket joint. The joint give the shoulder room to move around without hindrance. It is these connective tissues as well as muscle and tendon that hold the shoulder in place. When inflammation is involved, the tissues may lock the shoulder in place and hinder its range of motion.
Frozen shoulder makes you feel like you cannot move your shoulder at all. Your shoulder feels locked in place. You may first feel stiffness and discomfort. That will gradually increase to greater pain. There are three stages of frozen shoulder. Each stage brings about different symptoms. The initial stage is called the freezing stage. In this stage, the pain starts, and you have trouble moving the shoulder. The next stage is the frozen stage. At this point, you do not feel much pain, but your shoulder is nearly stuck. You cannot move it at all. The stiffness is at an ultimate high. With treatment, you get to the thawing stage. In this stage, you begin to gain your range of motion. The stiffness leaves and you start feeling much better.
The specific causes of frozen shoulder are not known, but there are a few theories. Frozen shoulder can accompany chronic illnesses. Some illnesses attack joints which then lead to this condition. Illnesses like diabetes and stroke can also be causes. Injuries may also result in frozen shoulder. After certain injuries, you tend to rest your shoulder and not move it at all. Injury can limit your range of motion, and if you do not work towards getting your range or motion back, it will freeze on you. Surgery is another factor of frozen shoulder. Whenever you have surgery, especially on your shoulder, the doctor will have you do physical therapy immediately. Therapy keeps your shoulder from freezing up. You may not like the therapy, especially because of the pain but it has a purpose. As you age, you are prone to problems like this. The shoulder may freeze up on you for no apparent reason. The result of these causes makes the capsule that holds all the parts of the shoulder together thicker and creates tightness. The next step is to get treatment.
Diagnosis and treatment help you get back to use your shoulder. Diagnosis is made through examination and confirmed through X-ray. Treatment does not necessarily require surgery unless X-ray shows other problems like torn ligament or tendons, or broken bones. The first form of treatment is anti-inflammatory drugs. Along with the drugs, the doctor will suggest you add heat to the arm and stretch. After stretching, you should ice to cut down the swelling. When pain is severe corticosteroid shots are given to relieve pain. The next step of treatment is therapy. Physical therapy is great for loosening the joint. It helps you gain back your range of motion. Therapy does not work overnight; it takes time, so you have to be patient. If you have tried stretching, medication, and therapy and it does not work, you may have to get surgery. Surgery is the last resort. Surgery is minimally invasive. There are two kinds of surgery. The first type is arthroscopic surgery. The doctor puts small holes in the shoulder area and places an arthroscope in the holes to cut the tissue that is causing the stiffness. The other type of surgery is Manipulation. The surgeon puts you to sleep and moves your arm around to loosen and stretch the tissues in the shoulder. This type of surgery does not require any cuts. This can also be done along with arthroscopic surgery.
Frozen shoulder is an interesting phenomenon that has no one specific cause. If you do not use your shoulder and keep it in one position, it will eventually become stiff. If you have a shoulder injury, it is important that you seek medical attention immediately. By ignoring the problem, you can cause your shoulder to become frozen. After surgery, do not neglect physical therapy. Physical therapy is a preventative measure. Be aware of any discomfort you may begin to feel in the shoulder area. Seek medical attention and get the problem addressed before that shoulder freezes on you.
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