Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)
Frozen Shoulder can be excruciating and causes severe stiffness and immobility in the shoulder, with less than 50% of the normal range of movement. The lining of the shoulder joint, known as the ‘capsule,’ is usually flexible which gives the shoulder its range of motion. A Frozen Shoulder means that this capsule (and its ligaments) become swollen, red, inflamed, and contracted. Normal elasticity is vastly reduced with pain and stiffness.
Even a mild injury can trigger a frozen shoulder. During the initial stage, which can last between two and nine months, the pain will increase with loss of movement and can be worse at night. Following the initial period of pain and discomfort, the stiffness sets in and the range of motion is limited – this is where the name frozen shoulder comes from. This phase can last between 4 and 12 months. Finally, over the next one to three years, the patient may experience a thawing of the stiffness, and motion will be gradually restored. But this process unfortunately can take longer. The pain will eventually improve but unfortunately the full movement of your shoulder may not fully recover.
There is currently research looking at the possible causes of the condition but it is more common in those who have diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease and is also seen in patients with Dupuytren’s contracture. It may also result from another injury to the shoulder or as a complication following a surgical procedure.
Without treatment frozen shoulder will usually improve over two to four years. However, due to the pain that patients experience treatment is often required. Physiotherapy and steroid injections may help control your symptoms.
Arthroscopic surgery can help with both the early and later stages of a frozen shoulder and it can relieve both the pain and improve movement with a high level of success. Intensive physiotherapy is essential following surgery.