There is an awful condition called adhesive capsulitis, or more commonly referred to as frozen shoulder, that shows up in about 2% of the population, mostly between ages 40 and 60, and more often women than men. It is associated with stiffness and pain in your shoulder and can be treated in many manners with relatively the same outcome. Unfortunately, the outcome, which is usually that the pain and stiffness resolve, doesn’t happen very quickly, often requiring 2-3 years to fully return to normal. The reason why I decided to write about this subject is to hopefully save someone who has this terrible pain even more, and rather unnecessary, pain because of treatment to supposedly help them.
First we have to look at what it is to understand how we can know what we should do if it happens to you. Anatomically, the shoulder joint, which is made up bones, ligaments, and tendons is surrounded by connective tissue which forms a type of capsule to further support of the “ball and socket” joint. See the picture below. Systemic issues can increase the likelihood of frozen shoulder (Diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, thyroid issues) but more commonly the capsule, for many reasons such as tendon injuries, a broken bone, post surgery, all at the shoulder area, or following a stroke, can thicken and tighten and become inflamed. Now it hurts every time you move your arm. So then the less you move, then the stiffer it gets, but also the more forceful you make it move, the more painful it gets. Darned if you darned, darned if you don’t it seems!!
Frozen shoulder is characterized into 3 stages:
Options on how to treat frozen shoulder: (this is not an exhaustive list but these are two more common attacks!)
Having frozen shoulder is terrible, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel for you. I would strongly suggest if you decide to try to get some relief through active treatment that you really look into the research and hopefully find the treatment that will not increase your pain and/or possibly delay your progress. I believe that proper, gentle physiotherapy can be helpful and somewhat pain-relieving and should be a part of a frozen shoulder recovery.