Frozen Shoulder – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Frozen shoulder, aka Adhesive Capsulitis, is a condition that causes stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. The cause is unknown, but there are certain risk factors to watch out for. It is a condition that eventually resolves itself, but that can take a few years to happen. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available to increase mobility and hasten recovery while this condition persists.

The Symptoms and Progression of Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is divided into three stages:

  • Freezing – Shoulder movement causes pain and the range of motion progressively decreases. This can last for six to nine months.
  • Frozen – The pain diminishes, but the shoulder becomes even stiffer and its mobility becomes even more limited. This can last for four to twelve months.
  • Thawing – Stiffness and pain decrease as the shoulder starts to go back to its normal functionality. This stage can last from six months to two years.

The Risk Factors for Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder occurs when the capsule of connective tissue encasing the bones, ligaments, and tendons in the shoulder joint thickens and tightens. No one is sure what causes this to happen, but many medical experts believe that it occurs when the joint becomes inflamed and scar tissue forms. The formation of scar tissue causes the tissues inside the joint to freeze and harden, impeding the joint’s movement. The following risk factors are suspected to cause frozen shoulder:

  • Diabetes – frozen shoulder happens more often in diabetics, though no one knows why. Additionally, the recovery period takes longer with diabetics, and the condition is more likely to recur.
  • Other diseases – the following diseases also increase the risk of developing frozen shoulder:
    • Parkinson’s Disease
    • Heart Disease
    • Tuberculosis
    • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
    • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  • Immobilization – any condition that causes llong-termshoulder immobility can increase the chances of frozen shoulder. These include surgery, a break, fracture, or any other similar injury.

Treatment of Frozen Shoulder

In some cases, a surgical procedure, such as shoulder arthroscopy, may be necessary. In most cases, non-surgical procedures can help to relieve pain and improve the shoulder’s range of motion. These include:

  • NSAIDS (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) – aspirin, ibuprofen, and similar over-the-counter medication can help to relieve pain and swelling.
  • Steroid injection – a shot of cortisone directly into the shoulder can provide relief because it is a strong anti-inflammatory medicine.
  • Hydrodilatation – this is a procedure where a radiologist injects a volume of sterile saline solution into the shoulder joint to stretch the joint capsule.
  • Physical therapy – these are exercises that help to slowly increase the range of motion. They can be done under the guidance of a physical therapist or the patient can do them alone.

Acupuncture Treatment for Frozen Shoulder

Acupuncture treatment has been proven to be very helpful in treating the symptoms of frozen shoulder. It has been tested in clinical trials and the results showed that acupuncture is a highly effective treatment. The reason is that it is a non-invasive procedure that can help improve the mobility of the shoulder joint.

As with the other treatments, acupuncture is not a cure for frozen shoulder. Rather, it helps to relieve some of the symptoms, and increase the shoulder’s range of motion while the condition is present.

Seek Immediate Help for Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder can be debilitating and painful, but there are ways to palliate those effects. Physical therapy and over-the-counter anti inflammatory drugs can help. Acupuncture is also a good option, but it is best used in conjunction with other treatment options rather than as the lone treatment option. If you wish to pursue the acupuncture option as part of your frozen shoulder treatment regimen, then you should visit a high quality clinic like Sound Acupuncture Miami to get the best care possible.

What is Frozen Shoulder?
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