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Frozen Shoulder

What is Frozen Shoulder?

A frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is the inflammation of the joint capsule of the shoulder joint. The capsule is a fluid filled sack which surrounds the shoulder joint and lubricates the joint to allow free and easy movement. With a frozen shoulder, the capsule becomes thickened and the fluid coagulates. This limits the movement in the shoulder and produces a lot of pain.

What are the symptoms of Frozen Shoulder?

Pain and stiffness in one shoulder often (but not always) the left. Often there is constant pain, which can disturb sleep and great difficulty in lifting the arm above head height.

Onset

Often there is a history of minor trauma such as a fall, surgery or a pulling injury. Symptoms can occur in weeks or even months after the original injury making it difficult to pinpoint the precise cause. Research would indicate that in some cases there is no specific cause. It most common in people aged 35-60 and also in women and those with diabetes.

Diagnosis and Prognosis

There are many conditions of the shoulder that can be very similar to a frozen shoulder so it is important to get a correct diagnosis from the right professional. Similar conditions include impingement syndrome, rotator cuff tear, osteoarthritis and many others.

A frozen shoulder typically goes through 3 stages with each stage lasting anything from 1 month to 1 year meaning the condition can last between 3 months and 3 years. The good news is that 99% of the time a frozen shoulder will fully resolve.

Treatment of Frozen Shoulder

Physiotherapy treatment can help to provide pain relief and promote a more speedy recovery. We use treatments such as gentle mobilisation techniques at the shoulder, stretching, acupuncture, heat and advice on appropriate exercise and self-help treatment.

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