What is Frozen Shoulder?

Jul 19, 2019

Also known as ‘adhesive capsulitis’, frozen shoulder is a painful condition severely restricting shoulder range of motion caused by adhesions and thickening of the capsule of the shoulder. Over time inflammation and scar tissue increases in the capsule which decreases the space around the shoulder joint, and significantly reduces movement. Simple activities such as washing, dressing, brushing your hair become difficult and painful. It is more common in women between the ages of 40-70, particularly with a history of diabetes or thyroid problems. It could also be present after prolonged immobility following a traumatic shoulder surgery or injury.

This type of injury often goes through three distinct phases:

1. Freezing Stage: pain is sharp especially when moving it in certain directions. There is also decreasing range of motion usually lasting 3-6 months.

2. Frozen Stage: pain lessens, however, range of motion is extremely limited. This phase can last up to 12 months.

3. Thawing Stage: Pain and lack of range of motion is slowly decreasing, however, shoulder weakness is extremely common due to lack of use and deconditioning. This phase can last 12-24 months.

While there is no ‘cure’ for frozen shoulder, motion is lotion! It is vital to maintain range of motion and adhere to a gentle progressive stretching program; not going past the ‘edge’ of discomfort. It is also important to have it assessed by a trained heath care practitioner (ie. physiotherapist).

Physiotherapists and other health care practitioners can assess and identify the stage you are in. They can then provide you with adequate pain management treatments and create an individualized exercise program.

Clinical evidence suggests a 10% increase risk of developing frozen shoulder on the opposite side as well. Therefore, it is important to increase rotator cuff strength and range of motion not only in the frozen side but the non-injured shoulder as well.

If you are thinking you might be in one of the stages of frozen shoulder, call (780)- 458-8505 to book an appointment today!


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