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.