Frozen shoulder is the common name for adhesive capsulitis, a condition that limits your range of motion. It can have a huge impact on everyday life and wellbeing. There are various stages of frozen shoulder and the recovery process. This condition is notoriously difficult to treat, although there are some treatment options to reduce pain and support your recovery journey.
Pain in the arm
Pain at night
Pain when you lift the arm (such as brushing your hair)
Difficulty taking the hand backward
Injury to the shoulder
Overloaded pressure on the joint
Prolonged or historical rotator cuff injury
Frozen shoulder is a long term injury that can generally be categorised into three phases.
Freezing stage - The freezing stage is where you begin to notice discomfort and slightly reduced range of motion. This stage lasts from 6 weeks to 9 months and is the development of pain. As pain increases, the range of motion decreases.
Frozen stage -During the frozen stage the pain may decrease but the stiffness gets worse. Moving your shoulder becomes more difficult and it becomes harder to get through daily activities. The frozen stage can last 4 - 12 months.
Thawing stage - Over time your shoulder mobility increases and the shoulder strength will gradually return to normal. Although this is good news, this process isn’t something that is rushed and may take 6 months to 2 years.
Treatment for frozen shoulder is focused on relieving pain and restoring normal range of motion.
Using an ice or heat pack applied to the shoulder for 10-15 minutes several times a day can help to alleviate the pain.
Anti inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen may be useful, although always check with your doctor before taking any medication.
The cornerstone of treatment is physical therapy, focusing first on exercises that stretch the joint capsule and later on strengthening and toning exercises.
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