Frozen shoulder, despite the name, has nothing to do with snowy weather. It’s a condition in which the shoulder joint is stiff, tight, and painful, with reduced mobility as though the shoulder is “stuck” or “frozen” in place. If you’re dealing with this frustrating issue, you should know that there are several effective treatments that can help you regain your range of motion and strength in your shoulder.

Understanding Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder often starts with minor shoulder pain, sometimes due to an injury. The pain gradually worsens and leads to significant stiffness, weakness, and a limited range of motion. Without treatment, a frozen shoulder may continue to worsen, as the pain can deter the individual from moving their shoulder, and failing to move their shoulder further limits its range of motion and increases pain levels.

Individuals with thyroid disease, diabetes, or an autoimmune disorder, as well as those who have experienced a heart attack or stroke, are at higher risk of developing this condition. Most patients are women between the ages of 40 and 65. Frozen shoulder is also more likely to occur in individuals who have injured their shoulder or have kept their arm immobilized for extended periods, such as after surgery.

Treatments for Frozen Shoulder

Effective treatments to restore mobility for frozen shoulder include the following:

1. Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is a cornerstone treatment for frozen shoulder. A guided PT program can help improve shoulder strength and flexibility. This typically involves gentle stretching exercises to be performed at home as well as supervised therapy sessions to ensure proper technique and prevent overstretching (which can worsen inflammation). PT is often part of the recovery plan after shoulder surgery and is a critical preventative measure for postoperative frozen shoulder.

2. Anti-Inflammatory Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain, making it easier to participate in physical therapy. These medications can be over-the-counter or prescription strength, depending on the severity of your symptoms.

3. Steroid Injections: Corticosteroid injections into the shoulder joint can provide significant relief from pain and inflammation. These injections help decrease the formation of scar tissue and allow for better movement. They are often used in conjunction with physical therapy for optimal results.

4. Surgery: Shoulder surgery is usually considered when other treatments have failed. The surgical procedure, sometimes called arthroscopic capsular release, involves manipulating the shoulder, breaking up scar tissue, and releasing tight adhesions to restore shoulder mobility. This procedure is typically outpatient, allowing patients to go home the same day.

Why Frozen Shoulder Treatment is Important

While frozen shoulder can sometimes resolve on its own, this process can take months or even years. Without treatment, many patients experience prolonged pain and significant loss of function. Early intervention with physical therapy, medications, and injections can accelerate recovery and improve quality of life, and it often saves the patient from having to undergo surgery.

Dealing with a frozen shoulder can be challenging, but effective treatments can help restore your mobility and reduce your symptoms. If you suspect you have a frozen shoulder, consult with one of our orthopedic specialists to develop a personalized treatment plan. With the right approach, you can regain your shoulder function and get back to your normal activities.To schedule a consultation with one of our orthopedic surgeons, call (714) 538-8549 or contact us online today.

About the Author mdmesupport

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