Marvelous May is here! At this time of year we should be in full swing and enjoying the benefits of the sun and outdoor activities. Unfortunately many of us are sitting on the bench or taking medications to play through our neck pain and what is described as a “frozen shoulder”.
Understanding What is A Frozen Shouder
A Frozen Shoulder or, Adhesive capsulitis, is a condition in which the shoulder cannot be moved normally due to pain and inflammation in the joint capsule of the shoulder. Limited range of motion not only occurs when the individual tries to move the shoulder, but even if shoulder movement is forced. The pain maybe isolated but most often it is accompanied with neck pain.
Causes of A Frozen Shoulder?
A Frozen Shoulder is caused by inflammation, scarring or thickening that occurs within the capsule of the shoulder joint. The capsule of ligaments in the shoulder joint allows the bones in the shoulder to freely move within the joint and if this becomes inflamed, the bones in the shoulder may have difficulty moving or may not be able to move at all. In many cases, there is no known cause for the inflammation and the condition arises from lack of use of the shoulder joint, but some causes that can lead to the condition include diabetes, shoulder trauma or injury, shoulder surgery, tendonitis, bursitis, cervical disc disease, chronic inflammatory arthritis, hyperthyroidism or any type of surgery located in the chest or breast.
Indications of a Frozen Shoulder
The primary symptoms of a frozen shoulder are pain, stiffness and limited shoulder mobility. In most cases, the condition begins with pain that prevents you from using your shoulder and moving your arm in a normal fashion. As you cease to move your arm because of the pain or if you keep it immobilized for too long (such as by putting it in a sling), the shoulder becomes stiff and eventually you cannot perform certain functions or movements. The main difference between frozen shoulder and other conditions that may cause pain, stiffness and limited mobility is that with a frozen shoulder, the doctor cannot make the shoulder joint move even by manually moving it.
The first step in diagnosing a frozen shoulder will include taking a complete medical history and physical examinations. Questions will be asked related to when the symptoms began, what activities caused the symptoms, and how limited the movement of the shoulder is. The shoulder will be examined and range of motion tests will be performed. The doctor will try to move the shoulder joint manually and if that cannot be done, a diagnosis of frozen shoulder is made. X-rays or an MRI may be ordered to determine if there is any noticeable cause of the immobility, but in most cases of frozen shoulder there are no specific findings, although shrinkage of the shoulder capsule or scar tissue may be apparent.
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