Frozen shoulder

Adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder

Adhesive capsulitis, also known as frozen shoulder, refers to a condition in which the articular capsule of the shoulder joint tightens and this causes the typical symptoms of pain and stiffness. The cause of the phenomenon is not fully known. Around 2% percent of Finns suffer from a frozen shoulder at some point in their lives. The ailment is most common in people aged 50-60.

 

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Symptoms of frozen shoulder

The symptoms of a frozen shoulder can be divided into four stages:

  1. During the inflammatory phase, shoulder pain is often felt at rest and at night as well as in sudden movements. In this case, the movements of the shoulder also gradually begin to weaken and be limited. The pain gradually gets worse.
  2. During the freezing phase, the shoulder is at its most painful and the movements are further restricted. For example, putting a wallet in your back pocket or attaching a bra may be impossible.
  3. During the stiffness phase, the pain begins to ease, but the shoulder is stiff and there is a clear restriction of movement.
  4. In the last stage of recovery, the pain has already decreased and the movements of the shoulder begin to return to normal.

The symptoms can last for a total of 1 to 2 years and usually the shoulder recovers. The inflammatory phase typically lasts a couple of months, the freezing phase a few months, the stiffness phase about half a year, and the recovery phase up to a year.

Treatment of frozen shoulder

Treatment for a frozen shoulder depends on the stage of the ailment. In the inflammatory and freezing phase, self-care for the condition mainly consists of pain relief with cold therapy, pain gel and NSAIDs, as well as careful exercise training. In the pain phase, physiotherapy is not yet useful, but for example, a small pendulum-like movement of the hand in a hanging position can be tried if the pain allows it.

During the stiffening and recovery phase, when the worst pain gradually begins to ease, stiffness of the shoulder joint is treated with physiotherapy and various movement exercises. It is recommended that you continue to exercise until your range of motion and functionality are fully restored.

 

Prevention of frozen shoulder

The cause of a frozen shoulder is unknown, so there are no exact ways of preventing the condition. However, it has been found that the condition is more common in diabetics.