Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis is a disorder that
Dull, lingering pain in one of the shoulders or in the muscles of the outer shoulder and upper arm region accompanied by stiffness of the shoulder joint are common symptoms of frozen shoulder. The pain may worsen at night in some cases. Most patients will experience pain at the slightest movement of the shoulder.
Who all are at risk?
For reasons yet unclear, women are more likely to develop a frozen shoulder than men. People belonging to the age group of 40-60 years old and those recovering from a stroke, mastectomy and other medical conditions that restrict the movement of arms are most likely to be affected by a frozen shoulder.
Individuals suffering from heart and thyroid related issues (hyperthyroidism/ hypothyroidism), tuberculosis, cardiovascular disorders, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes too have a high susceptibility to developing a frozen shoulder.
In addition, individuals recovering from tendinitis or injuries that cause them to wear a sling for several days are also at the risk of getting a frozen shoulder in absence of regular stretching. An estimated 10 percent of people suffering from rotator cuff disorders are affected by frozen shoulder.
A physical examination is required for diagnosing a frozen shoulder. This involves active and passive movement tests. In the ‘active’ part, the doctor will have the affected individual move the shoulder on his/her own to get a measure of pain and stiffness. In the ‘passive’ leg of the examination, the doctor will move the affected individual’s shoulder to gauge the differences in discomfort and range of motion.
In some instances, the doctor can administer anesthesia to numb the shoulder in order to carry out the physical examination. In addition, imaging tests such as X-ray, MRI or ultrasound may also be required if the doctor suspects a torn rotator cuff, arthritis or a similar condition to be the underlying cause of shoulder distress.
In some cases, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed to alleviate the pain, especially if there’s noticeable swelling in the affected shoulder. If there is significant inflammation or pain, the doctor can prescribe different, more potent medications.
Physiotherapy has been found to be effective in improving mobility of the shoulder and is often recommended. In severe cases wherein oral medication fails to bring relief, the doctor can revert to administering a corticosteroid injection into the shoulder joint.
Some rare cases may call for a shoulder surgery. The surgery is an arthroscopic or keyhole procedure.