We often consult with patients who have one shoulder that just doesn't seem to move as well as the other. If you have experienced this problem, you could be suffering from the condition referred to as a frozen shoulder. The medical term for this is adhesive capsulitis. Here, we will take a look at what a frozen shoulder may need in terms of treatment.
Frozen, and Not in a Good Way
Frozen yogurt? Ice cream? Yes, please! A frozen shoulder? No, thanks. This problem could be painful and limiting, and it can be difficult to fully comprehend. Often, patients who present with stiffness and pain in the shoulder do not know how their problem came about; there was no injury to speak of, so why the Big Freeze?
The discomfort of the frozen shoulder stems from inflammation in the structures that support the shoulder joint itself. This joint is situated within a capsule. The chronic state of inflammation causes the capsule to become thick and to shrink. What is interesting about this problem is that we cannot always tell what causes it. By the time a patient sees us, they may only know that they have been in pain for several weeks, or possible several months. Pain usually becomes worse over time, and then range of motion starts to decrease.
How to Thaw out the Frozen Shoulder
The thing about frozen shoulders are that they basically heal at their own pace. You did nothing to cause this problem, and there may not be much you can do to resolve it. It's a wait and see game. Sometimes, the shoulder may take a year or two to get back to normal and, in some cases, the issue may never fully resolve. Research indicates that diabetic patients may have difficulty with chronic shoulder pain should adhesive capsulitis occur.
To support recovery from this uncomfortable problem, we may suggest steroid injections and physical therapy. Injections are intended to minimize inflammation around the shoulder joint. When this is achieved, the shoulder can then be put through specific physical exercise to rebuild strength and mobility. This takes time, but the resolution of stiffness and pain is worth it!
Contact our office at (973) 942-1315 to consult with us about shoulder or other joint conditions in the hands or arms.