Frozen shoulder is a condition resulting from inflammation of the shoulder capsule. This causes bands of tissue (adhesions) to develop between the joint surfaces. Synovial fluid, which helps lubricate the joint to keep it moving smoothly, may also decrease, therefore contributing to stiffness. Dull or aching pain in the outer area of the shoulder that worsens with attempted motion of the joint (often with movements like combing hair, brushing teeth, reaching for wallet in back pocket) is a characteristic of frozen shoulder. Sometimes pain is also present in the upper arm. For some people, the pain worsens at night, sometimes disturbing normal sleep patterns.
Frozen shoulder typically develops gradually, and in three stages. Each of these stages can last a few months
Stage 1 (Pain) - During this stage, pain occurs with most movements of your shoulder
Stage 2 (Frozen) – During the frozen stage, the shoulder joint becomes more stiff and range of motion decreases notably. Pain may decrease.
Stage 3 (Thawing) - During the thawing stage, the condition begins to improve, resulting in decreased pain and increased range of motion.
Since aggressive intervention at the earliest possible stage of frozen shoulder may prevent the progression to a fully developed frozen shoulder, it is important to seek the advice of a physiotherapist as soon as possible. Treatments are based on individual cases but generally involve moving, stretching and strengthening the shoulder muscles. Physiotherapy treatments may coincide with your doctor's prescribed medication to alleviate pain. In extreme cases various surgical procedures may be an option.
After a shoulder injury, it is important to incorporate range of motion exercises into your rehabilitation program (as prescribed by your doctor or physiotherapist) to prevent adhesion between joint structures from developing. \if development of frozen shoulder is suspected, early intervention may help slow or prevent a fully frozen shoulder.
This information should only be used as a guide and does not replace the assessment of a professional health care provider.
Tez is a registered physiotherapist with Pinnacle Sports Physiotherapy Centers. For more info visit www.pinnaclephysio.com or call (250) 762 3322.