Frozen Shoulder Treatment in Baton Rouge
What is Frozen Shoulder?
Adhesive capsulitis, better known as frozen shoulder, is a condition in which the shoulder joint becomes painful and stiff. At its worst, frozen shoulder can prevent lifting, rotating, or moving the arm through the shoulder at all.
What Causes Frozen Shoulder?
Frozen shoulder is the result of inflammation in the connective tissues that surround the ligaments, tendons, and bones of the joint. The condition can be separated into three distinct phases: onset of pain, stiffness or inability to move the shoulder, and gradual improvement of pain and range of motion. These phases can last for one to three years. Unfortunately, the exact causes of frozen shoulder are not well-identified or understood.
What are the Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder?
The symptoms of frozen shoulder depend on the stage the condition is in. During the initial stage of onset, patients may notice pain with any shoulder movement, and although they can still move the shoulder, each movement becomes increasingly uncomfortable. In the second stage, pain may actually begin to subside a bit. However, range of motion becomes severely limited and the arm may only have very limited use. Finally, during the third (or thawing) stage, improvement is gradually felt in both pain levels and ability to move and use the arm.
Frozen Shoulder Risk Factors
While we may not understand exactly what causes the development of frozen shoulder, we are able to identify some common risk factors based on the patient population. These include:
- Being a woman over the age of 40
- Having had prolonged arm immobility due to conditions like a broken arm, torn rotator cuff, or stroke
- Having been diagnosed with a systematic disease like diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, or an over or underactive thyroid
How is Frozen Shoulder Diagnosed?
The primary tool in diagnosing frozen shoulder is physical examination. A doctor completes this exam by checking for pain and limited range of motion during both passive and active arm movement. During active movement, a patient will be instructed to move their arm in certain ways, while during passive movement, the physician will move the arm while the patient remains relaxed. Frozen shoulder will cause problems during both passive and active movement. In some cases, imaging tests such as x-ray or MRI may be used to confirm the diagnosis and exclude other possible conditions.
How is Frozen Shoulder Treated?
Surgery for frozen shoulder is rare. The vast majority of cases are resolved through pain management and exercises to help improve range of motion. This is often accomplished through a combination of over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers and anti-inflammatories, along with targeted physical therapy. Other possible treatment options include steroid injections and shoulder manipulation to loosen the joint.
Can Frozen Shoulder be Prevented?
Unfortunately, because the specific causes of frozen shoulder are not fully understood and the known contributing factors are largely uncontrollable, there is not much that can be done to prevent frozen shoulder. What we can do is understand that condition, while painful and somewhat debilitating, is temporary and that options do exist to help improve both comfort and mobility.