Today we’re going to talk about a condition called frozen shoulder. What is it and why does it hurt so bad? Frozen shoulder is a condition that involves a part in our shoulder called the joint capsule. For reasons only partially known, this joint capsule will tighten up on itself, causing pain and severe tightness.
What happens with a frozen shoulder? First, a little bit of background…Frozen shoulder is certainly more common in the over 50 age group. There is a hormonal component to it and because of that, it is statistically more common in women than men, but we do certainly see men with this condition as well.
Typically it starts out with either a minor injury or no injury at all, and the pain gradually continues to get worse. As that pain gets worse, we might be a little more fearful, a little bit scared that we’re aggravating it and because we don’t move that arm as much the shoulder gets tighter. As it gets tighter, it becomes more painful. As it becomes more painful, we don’t move it as much. When we don’t move it as much, it becomes more stiff and painful, and you can see the vicious cycle that occurs.
What can be done for frozen shoulder? The first thing is to make sure you come in and get examined. To begin, just come in and let us just examine you and see what’s going on because there are some other conditions (such as rotator cuff problems) that can mimic frozen shoulder. Don’t make the mistake of waiting as it will take longer to get it better! To break into that painful cycle, the main thing we need to do is actually two things. We want to try to get your pain level down, and then we’ve got to start doing some very specific and prescribed range of motion to break into that frozen area and decrease the stiffness. When we begin therapy, then the pain will decrease and the shoulder WILL get better.
You may think you have frozen shoulder if for example, you have difficulty reaching to brush the back of your hair, reaching back to tuck in a shirt, reaching back to put on a jacket, or if you’re a lady having difficulty reaching back to fasten that bra strap. Those are all things that we want to look at an A), make sure that you don’t have a frozen shoulder, and then B), if you do, make sure we start you on the road to recovery.
If you would like to hear more about frozen shoulder (or adhesive capsulitis as it is also known), check out this interview I did with Christy. She is an active woman from Wichita, KS who unnecessarily suffered with frozen shoulder, but was able to put it in her rearview mirror and made a full recovery thanks to knowing the right things to do (and not do!). She is now back to full paddleboarding and working in her garden! By employing the correct therapy treatments along with doing her “homework” on her own, she couldn’t be doing any better!
This is a condition that if we can catch it on the front end it is so much easier to treat and it gets better so much faster, versus somebody that lets it go on for a long, long time. If you have any questions about this, feel free to contact us or you’re certainly welcome to call us at 316-558-8808. We do still like to talk on the phone and we’d be happy to chat about your unique situation and see if we’d be a good fit for each other.
Lastly, our goal is to always keep people mobile, active and off pain pills, so if you have other questions feel free to let us know.
Until next time,
Cody Barnett PT
Orthopedic Physical Therapist