Adhesive capsulitis, commonly referred to as a “frozen shoulder,” is a progressive condition that usually presents as a slowly increasing level of shoulder pain over time. While it doesn’t usually require invasive medical intervention, it can — like most shoulder issues — greatly impact your quality of life because of the decreased range of motion you experience with this condition.

At Memorial Hermann Joint Centers, our main priority is to help you get back to enjoying your life and be as comfortable as possible, which is why we diagnose and treat a wide range of shoulder problems, including frozen shoulder.

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What is frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder typically occurs as a result of shoulder pain that causes you to stop moving and restrict your own motion. With decreased motion, the inflammation in your shoulder actually gets worse as it permeates the soft tissues of your shoulder, which then contract much like the effects of a burn patient. As the tissue becomes stiffer and more non-pliable, you continue to move it less and less, further exacerbating the issue.

As a condition without a known cause, frozen shoulder does not require a major injury such as a muscle tear or broken bone. It could stem from a minor sprain or simple overuse. The true problem comes with subconsciously decreasing your motion on your own over time.

When should I see a doctor about my shoulder?

If you notice a progressive decrease in range of motion — typically during the course of a week — you should call your physician. Addressing frozen shoulder sooner rather than later is important because the treatment is usually much easier. Try to increase the amount of movement for 3 to 5 days. If it improves, you probably do not need to see a doctor. If it does not, however, make an appointment as soon as possible.

Who is at risk for frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder can impact a wide variety of patients. One notable group with a propensity for frozen shoulder symptoms are those with diabetes. These patients tend to have a higher incidence of frozen shoulder than other populations.

Frozen Shoulder Treatments

Frozen shoulder is typically treated almost entirely with non-operative modalities of treatment. The most common treatments include steroid injections to the injury site and regular physical therapy.

Frozen Shoulder Recovery

The main limitation to frozen shoulder treatment is that there is no “quick fix” to treat the condition. Patients should be prepared for a long recovery period, often 6 months or longer. For continued improvement, patients can use anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy. To have the best chance at recovery, patients should seek treatment for frozen shoulder as soon as they notice symptoms. Prolonging the condition’s onset through continued decreased range of motion will also prolong the time needed for recovery.

Frozen Shoulder Treatment at Memorial Hermann

While frozen shoulder does not require invasive surgical treatment for recovery, it is still a serious medical condition that can greatly impact your daily life. If you are experiencing the reduced range of motion and continuous pain common with frozen shoulder, make an appointment with your physician or reach out to the Memorial Hermann Joint Centers. At Memorial Hermann, we specialize in offering compassionate medical care for you and your family. To learn if treatment for frozen shoulder makes sense for you, contact us today or find a joint center location near you.

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