Frozen Shoulder

If you are having trouble lifting your arm above your head, reaching across your body, or reaching behind your back, you may have a problem with the range of motion in your shoulder referred to as Frozen Shoulder or Adhesive Capsulitis. Limited motion is an early symptom of a frozen shoulder, which is a general term denoting all causes of motion loss in the shoulder. In each of the three stages outlined below, physical therapy helps to reduce the symptoms and diminish the loss of muscle power that occurs around the shoulder.

Outpatient arthroscopic surgery to release the contracted tissues can be extremely helpful if combined with careful therapy. Of note, frozen shoulder is associated with diabetes, inflammatory arthritis, and thyroid disease. These must be ruled out in patients who present with frozen shoulders.

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"Frozen shoulders produce compensations in not just the shoulder but the neck and back as well. Many patients don't realize how restricted they have become. Early intervention diminishes the course of the disease."

Stage One
Pain increases with movement and is often worse at night. There is a progressive loss of motion with increasing pain. This stage lasts approximately 2 - 9 months. Injections, therapy, and surgery are all options for diminishing the process.

Stage Two
Pain begins to diminish and moving the arm is more comfortable. However, the range of motion is now much more limited, as much as 50% less than in the other arm. This stage may last 4 - 12 months.

Stage Three
The condition begins to resolve. Many patients experience a gradual restoration of motion over the next 12 - 42 months; surgery may be required to restore motion for some patients.