Have you been experiencing stiff, painful shoulders that never seem to improve? If so, this might be caused by frozen shoulder.
Also known as adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder is a medical condition characterized by chronic pain and stiffness of the shoulder joint. In this condition, symptoms gradually worsen over time, and they later (usually) gradually improve. The whole process can take years if left untreated by a doctor.
Frozen shoulder is most common among adults aged 40 and over, and it tends to happen to women much more often than men. Let’s talk about what frozen shoulder is and how you can treat your shoulder pain.
What Causes Frozen Shoulder?
Ironically, frozen shoulder tends to develop after the shoulder joint has been immobilized for a long period of time. When the shoulder doesn’t get enough exercise, the connective tissue that holds the bones, tendons, and ligaments of the shoulder together – called the shoulder capsule – becomes tight and thick, making it virtually impossible to move the shoulder.
The immobility that causes this in the first place may be due to surgery, injury, illness, or fracture. Illnesses that can lead to and exacerbate frozen shoulder include thyroid problems, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.
One of the most common reasons for this condition is when the patient has had a stroke which has caused immobility of the shoulder. It also happens to people who have spent time keeping their arm immobilized after having surgery or having a broken arm immobilized in a sling.
Frozen shoulder is usually misconstrued as arthritis. However, these two conditions are completely different and are unrelated. Frozen shoulder specifically affects the shoulder joint as stiffness, whereas arthritis is inflammation that can cause pain but the shoulder (or other joint with arthritis) can still be moved.
Stages of Frozen Shoulder
There are three stages of frozen shoulder, and each stage can last for many months or years:
In the first stage, even the slightest movement of the shoulder creates pain. Mobility of the shoulder also begins to be limited. Because of the lack of mobility and the pain, you will not want to move your shoulder – which exacerbates the situation and makes it worse.
In the second phase of frozen shoulder, pain may actually start to be reduced while stiffness increases. The continuing stiffness makes it more and more difficult to move the shoulder, making it seem “frozen” in place.
This stage’s name may sound funny, but you’ll be glad to finally notice the stiffness begin to improve as your shoulder starts to move around again. This will take a while, but it will get better.
Orthopedic Surgeons in North Dakota
If your bones and joints are injured or are in pain, or if you have terrible stiffness in your shoulder that doesn’t improve, seek an experienced orthopedist for an evaluation and treatment that works. The Bone & Joint Center is a North Dakota surgical group that provides optimum orthopedic care, and we’re here to serve patients who have everything from frozen shoulder to a sprained ankle to arthritis.
If you would like to schedule an appointment, call us today at (800) 424-2663 or fill out our online appointment request form now. We look forward to helping you get that arm back in motion!