If you have chronic shoulder pain and are finding it difficult to lift your arm or reach behind your back, you might be suffering from frozen shoulder. Frozen shoulder affects nearly 5% of the population and is more common among women as per a study published in the National Library of Medicine. Women are four times more likely to be at risk of developing a frozen shoulder than men.

What is a frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder medically referred to as “adhesive capsulitis” is a condition that significantly restricts active and passive shoulder movement. Those who suffer from a frozen shoulder suffer from stiff shoulders, and shoulder pain that often worsens while sleeping. Acute cases of frozen shoulder experience a significant loss of rotational movement of the shoulders.

What causes frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is caused due to the inflammation of the connective tissue of the shoulder joint also known as the “glenohumeral joint”.

The shoulder joint is the ball and socket joint of the shoulder formed by the scapula (shoulder blade) and the humerus (the upper arm bone). It is one of the major joints of the human body connecting our arms to the trunk. The shoulder joint is responsible for a range of motion including bending, raising, rotation, and extension of the arms and shoulders.  Connective tissue surrounds the shoulder joint providing stability and holding everything in place. When these connective tissues become inflamed, it causes pain, progressive stiffness, and restriction of movement resulting in a frozen shoulder.

People suffering from Diabetes, thyroid disorders, Parkinson’s disease, shoulder injury, cancer, and stroke are at an increased risk of developing a frozen shoulder. The risk of developing a frozen shoulder also increases with age.

What are the different categories and stages of frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is classified into two categories:

Primary frozen shoulder

This type of frozen shoulder is generally associated with medical conditions like diabetes, thyroid diseases, and Parkinson’s disease.

Secondary frozen shoulder

This type of frozen shoulder usually occurs due to shoulder injuries or trauma. It is also associated with other shoulder pain complaints like rotator cuff tear and shoulder impingement that leads to reduced movement and increases the risk of developing a frozen shoulder.

The progression of the frozen shoulder occurs in three stages:

1. Freezing stage

The freezing stage is the initial stage of the frozen shoulder and usually lasts anywhere between two to nine months. The shoulder pain in this stage gradually increases from dull to severe pain that typically exacerbates at night.

2. Frozen stage

During this stage, the severity of the shoulder pain starts to decline but there is a progressive loss of range of shoulder movement. This stage lasts anywhere between four to 12 months. Patients in this stage generally experience loss of rotational movement, loss in the ability to bend shoulders (flexion), and loss of ability to raise the arms out to the sides

3. Thawing stage

Just as the name suggests, in this stage a patient experiences thawing of the frozen shoulder and a gradual return of a range of motions. This stage typically lasts anywhere between five to 26 months.

How do you treat a frozen shoulder?

Conservative treatments are recommended for the treatment of frozen shoulders. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroid injection shots often serve as the first line of treatment to reduce pain and inflammation. However, prescription pain medications and steroid infection shots offer short-term pain reduction and are not recommended for long-term usage.

Physical therapy and exercises offer pain reduction and help improve shoulder movement naturally. Home exercises, stretching, and strengthening exercises can help improve the range of motion and provide pain reduction. However, contact a professional before starting exercises as they may worsen your pain and symptoms.

Your chiropractor can help create a frozen shoulder rehabilitation plan and suggest treatment and home exercises that can help you recover from your frozen shoulder.

Recovery from frozen shoulder is possible

Most people suffering from frozen shoulder can recover completely through chiropractic care and rehabilitation involving therapy, exercise, and conservative treatment plan. Avoid the side effects of prescription pain medications and expensive steroid injection shots and recover from your frozen shoulder through chiropractic care and treatment naturally.

Finding that your frozen shoulder is causing more discomfort? Need a change in your home treatment routine? Schedule an appointment with Cianci Chiropractic to discuss further.