Adhesive capsulitis is a medical condition that causes stiffness and pain in the shoulder; it is also called “frozen shoulder.” Although there’s no definitive cause for frozen shoulder, it sometimes develops after minor shoulder injuries. Symptoms of frozen shoulder usually last about one to two years. While it seems that time is the only cure for a frozen shoulder, there are a number of different treatment options that can alleviate some of the pain and other symptoms.
The stiffness and pain of frozen shoulder will often interfere with everyday activities that someone does throughout their regular routine. Activities of this nature include brushing your hair, getting dressed, or reaching for something on a shelf. About 2-5% of people are affected by frozen shoulder at some point in their lives, and it usually affects people between 40 and 65 years old.
At first, frozen shoulder causes people to experience an aching sensation when they’re not moving, and intense pain when they do move. Frozen shoulder also often causes people to have a hard time sleeping. The term “frozen” is used because as the injury progresses, people experience a loss of motion and limited use of their shoulder for a period of time. Although the pain decreases, mobility decreases as well. As the condition starts to improve, the shoulder is said to “thaw,” and mobility is restored slowly.
A physical therapist’s thorough evaluation of your symptoms will allow them to design a treatment plan that’s right for your injury. Your therapist will use a combination of mobility exercises and stretching to decrease your stiffness, improve your strength, and get you back up and running.
Experts suggest that people who suffer from frozen shoulder should not give in to their desire to stop using the affected shoulder—continuing to use the shoulder, even though it hurts, keeps the muscles moving as much as possible, and contributes to the healing process. Your therapy regimen should not only include physical exercises, but should also include educational information about the symptoms of frozen shoulder, what a person with frozen shoulder should expect to experience, and how long it’ll take to recover. Heat therapy is also a good approach to recovering from frozen shoulder, and will make physical exercises more effective.
If you’re experiencing symptoms that may be a result of frozen shoulder, you should contact the experienced physical therapists at Physical Solutions LI to schedule an evaluation and build your treatment plan to kick start your recovery.