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Frozen Shoulder

What is a frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is a painful stiffness of the shoulder that often occurs between the ages of 40 and 60 and is more common in women.

 What are the symptoms of frozen shoulder?

– Pain and stiffness makes it difficult to carry out a full range of normal shoulder movements
– Symptoms vary from mild to excruciating where it may not be possible to move the shoulder at all.
– There is generally a particular difficulty moving the arms away from the body outwards (external rotation) and reaching behind the back.
–  Persistent, deep aching shoulder pain that does not go away
– Difficulty bathing, dressing, driving
– Sleep is very uncomfortable
– The condition is usually self-limiting, often resolving or “thawing” out, over a 2 year period.
– Pain in either shoulder. In about 20 percent of cases the condition also develops in the other shoulder.
– It is much more common for the second frozen shoulder to occur months or years after the first. However in a very small number of people frozen shoulders can occur in both shoulders at the same time.

Who gets frozen shoulder?

– People with diabetes and thyroid conditions are thought to be more likely to develop frozen shoulder so you should discuss blood tests with your GP if you develop a frozen shoulder and suspect either of these conditions are at play or if there is a family history of these conditions.
– Neck issues have also been implicated in frozen shoulder
– Menopause is also a factor for frozen shoulder, which has been dubbed “fifties” shoulder.
– Dr Herald assesses and treats frozen shoulder (generally non-surgically but occasionally surgically).
– He provides active assisted exercises for patients to do at home to help thaw a frozen shoulder using common household objects such as a tea towel, a coat hanger and a broomstick. For tips on how to thaw a frozen shoulder at home, see here.
– Frozen shoulder can also masquerade as other shoulder conditions.*

What does frozen shoulder surgery involve? 

– Most frozen shoulder are treated non-surgically.
However once a diagnosis has been made, (and if the pain is severe and prolonged), Dr Herald may recommend an arthroscopic capsular release to speed up recovery.
During this procedure, the scarred capsule is divided or released to allow full shoulder movement.
Although this is a day surgical procedure, there is usually a 12-week period of physiotherapy required afterwards to ensure it does not refreeze.