Have you ever tried reaching for something overhead, taking your wallet out from your back pocket, or relieving a back itch but find yourself wincing in pain? This may be an indication of a frozen shoulder, a condition characterized by the loss of mobility, pain, and stiffness in the joint.
A frozen shoulder develops gradually in three phases and can take quite some time to heal. Your provider will tell you dos and don’ts to ensure a speedy recovery and restore your range of motion safely and quickly.
Frozen Shoulder Dos
Consult Your Doctor
If you have the symptoms of a frozen shoulder, consult your doctor to get a diagnosis. Do not self-diagnose and self-treat because this can worsen your condition if done wrong.
Diagnosing a frozen shoulder starts with a physical exam conducted by your doctor. A physical is used to evaluate your shoulder’s range of motion. Your provider may ask you to touch your opposite shoulder or reach across your hip. They can also check your passive range of motion by asking you to relax your muscles as they move your arm in different motions. After this, they may order an X-ray to rule out possible underlying conditions, like a dislocation or arthritis.
Your doctor will recommend a treatment plan to address your problem and give you instructions regarding rest and exercise. They can also refer you to a physical therapist. Take pain medications as advised, and make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions to ensure a smooth recovery.
Regularly Use Your Affected Arm
Keeping your arm and shoulder idle will not help with the healing process. Resting these parts all the time will only worsen your condition.
One of the most common causes of a frozen shoulder is reduced or total immobility, which may be due to factors like a broken arm, stroke, recovery from surgery, or a shoulder injury. As you keep your arm and shoulder immobile, the capsule that encases the joint thickens and tightens.
On the other hand, if you perform gentle exercises as prescribed by your doctor or therapist, you can improve your shoulder’s strength and range of motion.
Pay Attention to Your Posture and Sleeping Position
Patients with frozen shoulder are vulnerable to reduced sleep quality. This is especially true during the first stage or the freezing stage, which is the phase when you will feel the most pain. However, getting adequate sleep promotes healing and reduces inflammation.
To help you stay comfortable as you sleep, you can put a pillow under your affected arm, with your hand resting on your stomach. If you tend to sleep on your side, make sure you don’t sleep on your affected shoulder. Likewise, place your affected arm on a pillow across your chest as if hugging it.
When you are standing or sitting, make sure you have good posture. Keep your shoulders back and avoid slouching or slumping to help ease your pain.
Frozen Shoulder Don’ts
Do Not Skip Your Physical Therapy Sessions
One of the most important aspects of your treatment plan is physical therapy. Your therapist will teach you exercises that focus on stretching the joint capsule. When your condition improves, you can move on to strengthening exercises.
If you have a frozen shoulder, make sure you attend all physical therapy sessions to keep your progress on track. The first few sessions are also critical because this is when they evaluate your condition and teach you exercises. With your therapist’s guidance, you’ll learn how far you can push yourself to avoid straining your shoulder when you do them at home. Additionally, don’t get ahead of yourself and move on to strengthening exercises without the approval of your doctor and therapist.
Don’t Do Activities That Cause Pain
While keeping your shoulder mobile is vital to healing and recovery, you should still refrain from moving your shoulder in pulling, jerky, and jarring movements. These movements will only make the pain worse and add more strain to your muscles.
If you continue to move your shoulder in painful movements, the tendons in your arm will have to work harder, which may result in tendonitis. Some examples of these include walking the dog or playing contact sports without your doctor’s approval. A frozen shoulder may take time to heal, so don’t rush your recovery.
Frozen Shoulder Treatment in North Dakota
Frozen shoulder may not seem as severe as other conditions and injuries. However, it can still significantly affect your shoulder’s range of motion, thus interfering with your daily activities and quality of life.
If you have the symptoms of a frozen shoulder, reach out to The Bone & Joint Center to receive quality patient-centered orthopedic care in North Dakota. Our fellowship-trained and board-certified specialists are sure to create a treatment plan tailor-fitted to your condition that includes nonsurgical and/or surgical modalities.
You may visit any of our 11 locations across the state. For questions and inquiries, don’t hesitate to call (800) 424-2663. Alternatively, you may also request an appointment online. We look forward to helping you!