In our day to day life there is a lot of movement occurring at the shoulder. The shoulder, also known as the glenohumeral joint, is one of the most mobile joints in the human body. However, when the shoulder is "frozen", the joint gets stuck and its movement becomes limited. The resulting disability of a frozen shoulder can be serious, and the condition tends to get worse with time if it's not treated.
But what exactly is a frozen shoulder? What causes it? How do you treat it? In this post, we will provide an answer to all of these questions.
Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, results from excessive scar tissue or adhesions across the glenohumeral joint capsule. It can lead to stiffness, pain, and limited range of motion in the shoulder.
A frozen shoulder usually begins with an injury or inflammation of the soft tissues. Inflammation can cause pain that is aggravated with movement. The condition is referred to as a “frozen” shoulder because the more pain that is felt, the less likely the shoulder will be used.
Moreover, the lack of use causes the joint capsule at the shoulder to thicken and tighten, making the shoulder even more difficult to move.
A frozen shoulder usually develops slowly and in three stages. Each stage can last a few months.
Some risk factors for a frozen shoulder include:
After a period of worsening symptoms, a frozen shoulder tends to get better. You can leave a frozen shoulder untreated but the stiffness and limited range of motion will continue to exist. Although pain may get better over time, you will still experience some pain time to time.
As you use your shoulder for numerous activities, stiffness, pain, and limited range of motion is not something you want to deal with for a prolonged period of time. This is why it is important to recognize the issue and take actions for recovery!
There are multiple ways for you to treat a frozen shoulder however, seeing a physiotherapist and going through physical therapy is one of the most common treatments.
A physiotherapist will first conduct a physical exam. They will assess your shoulder’s range of motion and general shoulder movements with your arm. Additional tests and x-rays may also be done to rule out other possible problems.
After doing a physical exam and having a better understanding of your condition, a physiotherapist can come up with a treatment plan specific to your needs.
Typically the treatment will first focus on exercises that stretch the joint capsule and to regain the lost motion. Then gradually you will progress on to strengthening exercises.
A physiotherapist can show you how far to push yourself and can teach you the appropriate exercises. Once you've learned your limitations, you can practice most of your exercises on your own at home.
These are a few exercises that you can do on your own at home!
If you think you have a frozen shoulder or have any further questions feel free to contact us at: 780 862 3111.