What Can I Do About a Frozen Shoulder?

What Can I Do About a Frozen Shoulder?

It started slowly with some minor shoulder pain. All too soon, the pain increased while movement decreased in your shoulder, and now you have a frozen shoulder. Here’s what can happen next.

Frozen shoulder is a great description of a condition in your shoulder that dramatically limits your ability to move the joint. What the name leaves out is the pain and discomfort that often accompanies a frozen shoulder.

Medically known as adhesive capsulitis, Dr. Rajiv Sood and the team here at Spine & Orthopedic Center are familiar with this type of shoulder problem, and we want you to know that there are solutions.

Here’s a look at what occurs when you have a frozen shoulder and how we can help you wave goodbye to the limited movement and pain.

A three-step process

Your shoulders are ball-and-socket joints that rely on strong connective tissues that attach your arm to your body. These tissues are collectively referred to as your shoulder capsule and surround your rotator cuff and joint.

With a frozen shoulder, these tissues thicken and develop adhesions (scar tissue), creating stiffness and tightness in your shoulder. This issue typically crops up between the ages of 40 and 60 and, interestingly, affects women more than men.

A frozen shoulder typically follows three steps:

  1. Freezing — your shoulder develops pain and stiffness over weeks or months
  2. Frozen — the pain may subside, but scar tissues greatly limit movement in your shoulder
  3. Thawing — shoulder motion gradually improves

This entire process can last up to three years, making a frozen shoulder a bit of a long haul.

Speeding up the recovery process

While most frozen shoulders get better on their own, as we discussed, it can take a lot of time. If you want to regain the use of your arm more quickly, there are several ways in which we can help move the frozen shoulder timeline along.

The most effective treatment program for a frozen shoulder starts with a great physical therapy regimen. Targeted exercises and stretches that loosen up the scar tissue are incredibly effective in returning your shoulder to normal function more quickly.

To help relieve your discomfort so that you can engage fully in physical therapy, we can provide corticosteroid injections that tackle both the pain and inflammation.

We can also turn to hydrodilatation, where we inject a sterile solution into your shoulder capsule to help it expand.

We also want to augment your body’s ability to heal these tissues more quickly, which we can do with regenerative therapies like platelet-rich plasma injections.

In most cases, with a combination of these therapies, we can get your shoulder back to full function within a few months, but your participation is key to this goal.

If your shoulder doesn’t respond to these combined efforts, we can discuss arthroscopic surgery, which is rarely called for with a frozen shoulder.

If you’d like to determine the best approach for your frozen shoulder, please contact our Jonesboro, Georgia, office to schedule a consultation.