Frozen shoulder refers to pain or any kind of stiffness which does not allow the shoulder to move freely. It can happen to anyone of any age though it tends to occur after forty years of age. This may occur after some severe injury which restricts the movements. The tissues surrounding the joints stiffen which in turn makes the movement of shoulder painful and difficult.
Causes of shoulder Stiffness
There are various reasons which can lead to the issue of frozen or stiffness in shoulder. Any minor issues in the shoulder such as too much of strain can lead to the problem of stiffness shoulder if not taken care of properly at the right time. The connective tissue known as shoulder capsule surrounds the ball and socket joint in the shoulder. Synovial fluid that is present there allows the flexible movement of the joints. Stiff shoulder occurs when formation of scar tissue occurs in the shoulder. Due to this, the joint capsule in the shoulder tightens and thickens which in turn reduces the space for flexible movement. This makes the movement of the shoulder difficult and inflexible. It occurs more to women in comparison to men. It tends to occur during the following cases:
- Due to overuse of some medicine
- As a result of sudden injury or fracture
- After diseases such as stroke, cardiovascular diseases, Parkinson’s disease.
- From chronic diseases such as diabetes, Hyperthyroidism or Hypothyroidism.
Symptoms of Stiff shoulder
A person affected from shoulder stiffness would suffer uneasiness in the shoulder joint which later leads to continuous pain. Frozen shoulder can be classified into three major stages based on the symptoms and severity. It usually gets recovered within a span of 2-3 years with proper treatment and care.
- Painful or freezing stage: Here the shoulder becomes stiff and the pain increases gradually. Movement of the shoulder joints reduces. The severity of the pain tends to increase at night.
- Adhesive or frozen stage: The shoulder becomes stiffer with time and the movement becomes very limited. Though the pain does not worsen, it remains the same with not much improvement.
- Thawing stage: The severity pain slowly reduces and the movement tends to return back to normal stage. Pain would not diminish completely and would reoccur occasionally, though the frequency would surely increase with time.
Treatment to the Cause
Frozen shoulder can easily be diagnosed with the help of the symptoms, sighs and some basic physical tests. An X-ray or MRI would reveal the specific details and exact results. The process of curing is slow but usually it gives positive results in maximum cases. The common treatment processes are explained below.
- Painkillers: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly available which gives relief and reduces the inflammation. Acetaminophen such as paracetamol can be used for long term. Prescription painkillers such as codeine can be taken in case of severe pain for instant relief. But all painkillers are not always suitable for every individual. Thus, it is mandatory to get in touch with the doctors before consuming these medicines.
- Corticosteroid injections: They are type of steroids which instantly reduces the swelling and pain. These should be taken in case of unbearable pain. However, taking these injections frequently should be avoided since they have quite a number of side effects.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): This machine sends small electric pads or minute electrodes that are applied on the affected area. This reliefs the pain to a huge extent.
Sometimes when medicine, exercises and the general treatment does not give the desired result doctors suggest for surgeries. The two common types of surgeries are explained below.
- Shoulder manipulation: Here the joint is moved slightly keeping the patient under anesthesia.
- Shoulder arthroscopy: Here a small tube or endoscope is inserted for removal of adhesions or scar tissue.