A Frozen Shoulder causes you to be unable to move your shoulder joint as normal. It’s stiff (in severe cases, completely rigid) and can be intensely painful.
The shoulder joint becomes like this because of inflammation and thickening of the lining of the fibrous tissues, or capsule, that surrounds the joint.
One of the most common tests is to get the person to try to lift their arm to the horizontal level. This is impossible in frozen shoulder, and the arm can only be lifted a small way up from a vertical position, if at all.
Causes and risk factors
The exact cause or trigger isn’t clear, but some people relate the problem to an injury, which was often quite minor.
Sometimes, it seems to follow other illness, such as bronchitis, angina or a stroke. There may also be a link to diabetes.
Frozen shoulder is rare in young people.
Treatment and recovery
There are many different treatments that can help increase mobility and reduce pain, including:
- Exercise – this must be based on the advice and supervision of an expert, such as a physiotherapist.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen.
- Regular painkillers.
- Ice packs and heat treatments – to help with the pain and encourage blood flow.
- Steroid injections (severe cases).
- Manipulation by an Osteopath or Physiotherapist – although this can initially increase the pain.
Recovery is usually slow and may take two or three years. There’s also an increased risk that the problem may recur, although this is far from inevitable.