If you’re experiencing a sharp pain or reduced ability to move your shoulder, you may have a condition called Frozen Shoulder. Many people recovering from surgery, stroke, and other physical injuries are at risk of developing this condition, primarily if they are over 40 years of age. Understanding the symptoms and causes of Frozen Shoulder is important because it helps with the early detection, and may assist in slowing the progression of the condition.
What is Frozen Shoulder
Frozen Shoulder, otherwise known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that results in shoulder stiffness, numbness, pain, and reduced motion. Signs and symptoms may occur gradually and progress slowly. Doctors may diagnose Frozen Shoulder based on symptoms alone, or may suggest an x-ray and/orMRI to rule out any other symptomatic causes.
The Causes of Frozen Shoulder
Frozen Shoulder is caused by the tissue around the shoulder that stiffens and forms scar tissue. The buildup of scar tissue increases pressure and inflammation of the tendons within the shoulder capsule. Thus, individuals will experience a reduced range of motion and stiffness, while the inflammation of the tendons will cause sharp pain and shoulder aches. The direct cause of frozen shoulder is unknown. However, individuals impacted by diabetes, stroke, and recovery from physical injuries are at an increased risk of developing Frozen Shoulder.
The Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder
There are three stages that occur when someone has Frozen Shoulder: a painful stage, frozen stage, and thawing stage. The development of Frozen Shoulder occurs slowly, and progression through the stages varies from individual to individual.During the painful stage, the range of motion begins to decrease, and movement of the shoulder may cause pain. The frozen stage may not necessarily be painful but the individuals range of motion is limited due to increased stiffness. The thawing stage is after treatment during the healing process, where the pain is reduced and the shoulder’s range of motion improves.
The Treatment of Frozen Shoulder
To reduce pain, many treatments during the painful stage attempt to reduce the inflammation of the tendons. Routine icing, ultrasounds, anti-inflammatory drugs, acupuncture, and electrical therapy can all be used to reduce the pain.
During the frozen stage, it is important to break up the scar tissue. This can be done through massage therapy, and/or use of the Graston Technique. The Graston Technique aids in breaking up scar tissue, reducing stiffness, and ultimately restoring the range of motion in the shoulder.
During the thawing stage, stretching and continuous use of the muscle are imperative.
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