Frozen shoulder is a very common, but debilitating, problem that we see in our orthopedic practice. It occurs when the shoulder capsule thickens and becomes tight. This will then cause adhesions to occur with subsequent freezing of the shoulder.
Causes of Frozen Shoulder
There are several causes of frozen shoulder such as Diabetes, hypothyroidism,hyperthyroidism, cardiac diseases, Parkinsonism, immobilization of the shoulder, and after shoulder surgery. However, it can also occur with no underlying disease or injury.
When the capsule becomes inflamed the person will have very limited to no range of motion of the shoulder. The pain is usually dull in character rather then sharp. Patients will usually point to the side of their shoulder as the area where they feel the most discomfort. X-rays are often ineffective at identifying frozen shoulder.Even with the advanced imaging of an MRI it still may not be easily visualized.
Treatments for Frozen Shoulder
The goal in treatment is to try and mobilize the shoulder. This is done using multiple treatments: non-steroidal anti-flammatory medication (NSAIDS), physical therapy, steroid injections, manipulation under anesthesia, surgical release and distention arthrography. In a later post I will describe distention arthrography and explain how I use it to treat frozen shoulder.