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Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)

Frozen shoulder is a condition of the shoulder where the fibrous connective tissue (capsule) around the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint becomes inflamed and starts to thicken, causing pain and a restriction of range of motion.

What Causes Frozen Shoulder?

To date, true adhesive capsulitis is considered idiopathic- that means we don’t really know! Some people are adamant that an initial bump or small injury has caused it but there is no real proof of this. We do now that it is more common in diabetics, women and the over 40’s. Classically this comes on initially with some slight pain, which progresses to more severe pain as your shoulder starts to stiffen and finally you are left with a relatively painless but quite stiff shoulder- though this is not always the case.
People can also be left with a frozen shoulder after an injury or surgery, where they have not been able to use their arm properly.

Do I Have a Frozen Shoulder?

A simple test to check is if you get somebody to turn your arm out when it’s down by your side. If there is a physical block then the test is positive. Your doctor or physiotherapist may also order x-rays to rule out anything else.

Treatment

Frozen shoulders can take a long time to resolve- up to 2 years. When the pain is severe, management of this using medication is the best option. Your doctor may also give you a steroid injection. As the pain settles down physiotherapy focussing on gentle range of motion exercises will be of benefit to try and gently return movement to your shoulder.

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