Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterised by stiffness, pain and severe restriction of movement in the shoulder due to intense inflammation in the shoulder joint. Signs and symptoms typically begin gradually, worsens over time and then resolves, usually within two years.
Treatment for frozen shoulder involves rehabilitation exercises and sometimes corticosteroid injections injected into the joint capsule. In a tiny percentage of cases, arthroscopic surgery may be indicated to loosen the joint capsule so that it can move more freely. It usually only affects one shoulder but can affect the opposite shoulder in some cases.
What Causes Frozen Shoulder?
In most cases, the cause of frozen shoulder is unknown. However, some common risk factors can play a part in the onset of this condition; these include diabetes, heart disease, trauma and connective tissue disorders, and those aged between 40-60 years.
Sometimes Frozen Shoulder can be a result of previous trauma to the shoulder or because of recent surgery that renders the arm or shoulder unusable for a lengthy period of time.
5 Symptoms Of Frozen Shoulder
Some common symptoms associated with Adhesive Capsulitis or Frozen Shoulder are:
Intense pain in the shoulder and/or radiating down the arm
Inflammation of the joint
Disturbed sleep patterns (due to pain and attempting to lay on the affected side)
Restricted mobility and loss of range of motion (unable to lift, reach, or raise the arm fully)
The 3 Phases Of Frozen Shoulder Syndrome
Frozen shoulder is generally a self-limiting condition and normally will heal within 2 years. It follows 3 phases of healing as outlined below.
Phase 1. Commonly referred to as the “Freezing Phase‘, when symptoms begin to occur, this is the most painful stage, and it can last several months.
Phase 2. Commonly referred to as the “Frozen Phase“, the pain starts to subside somewhat and stiffness sets in, and there is a marked loss of range of movement in the shoulder. This phase can last for many months or even over a year.
Phase 3. Commonly referred to as the “Thawing Phase“, when movement gradually returns to normal over many months.
Frozen Shoulder Treatment Options
As with any injury, early diagnosis and treatment are important, and treatment options will vary for each individual. Frozen Shoulder sufferers can seek treatment from several healthcare providers, including their Osteopath for physical therapy, a GP for some pain relief, or an Orthopaedic specialist for referral for a corticosteroid injection if needed.
Osteopathy involves taking on a whole-body approach to healing which will include not only examination of the shoulder but the entire neck, back and pelvis.
Osteopaths will use gentle manipulation techniques focussing on the joints and soft tissues surrounding the shoulder and spine. Mobilisation techniques are used to restore the range of movement back into the shoulder gently. Rehabilitation exercises will form an integral part of the overall treatment plan, especially in the Thawing Phase. Osteopaths will also provide lifestyle advice to lessen the pain where possible and for ongoing management and prevention.
If you are struggling with an injured shoulder or Frozen Shoulder – Our Osteopaths are here to help you! Please do not hesitate to contact Lorraine Herity at Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch today. Call 027 755 5700 or book online.
Lorraine Herity is the Clinic Director of Better Health Osteopathy in Christchurch, New Zealand. She previously worked in Osteopathic clinics in London and Ireland, before moving to New Zealand. Lorraine trained at the British School of Osteopathy in London, where she gained her Master of Osteopathy (M.Ost). Lorraine is a dedicated and passionate Osteopath. Her main aim is to help her patients regain their health, and to return her patients back to their everyday activities, in as quick a time as possible.