The shoulder (glenohumeral joint) is surrounded by a stabilising capsule. Inflammation of the shoulder and the capsule can lead to development of thick fibrous tissue, called adhesions. Frozen shoulder occurs when these adhesions begin to limit movement of the shoulder joint, causing it to become painful and stiff, or “frozen”.

Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder involves a dull, aching pain that is typically worse in the early stages of the condition and occurs in the outer shoulder and upper arm.

  • Pain upon movement, particularly elevating the arm – difficulty dressing, brushing hair etc.
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Pain that increases overtime and may disturb sleep.
  • Pain and stiffness that gradually extends to the neck and upper back

Causes of Frozen Shoulder

The exact cause of Frozen shoulder is not clear. However, the conditions listed below are known to be associated with an increased risk of developing Frozen Shoulder:

  • Injury/inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons or the tendon of the bicep muscle.
  • Systemic conditions such as diabetes, diseases of the thyroid gland, arthritic conditions & cardiac disease.
  • Prolonged immobilisation following shoulder trauma or surgery.
  • Bursitis around the shoulder

Treatment and management

There are many causes of pain around your shoulder. Your osteopath can perform an examination to properly diagnose the condition and develop a treatment plan that may include:

  • Osteopathic treatment to relieve associated muscle pain and spasm
  • Rehabilitation exercises and stretches to help improve mobility
  • Identification of ergonomic factors to eliminate aggravating activities.
  • Ergonomic and training/movement modifications
  • Reducing inflammation with medications or ice
  • Steroid injections to reduce inflammation or surgical intervention may be recommended in rare cases.
  • Prognosis following Frozen Shoulder
  • The recovery time for frozen shoulder to resolve is highly variable and is usually a prolonged process. However, with patience and commitment, there can be a return to complete and pain free movement.

What to avoid

  • Do not persist with activities that cause pain
  • Do not apply heat or heat creams to the affected area without an examination first
  • Do not self-prescribe massage, stretches and exercises, or medications

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