Frozen shoulder is a condition that occurs when the connective tissue surrounding the shoulder joint becomes inflamed and thickened. This causes pain or stiffness in the shoulder, resulting in limited range of motion or movement.
The pain and limited mobility can affect your daily activities as you will find it difficult to move your arm in certain directions or perform simple activities such as brushing hair or reaching for objects.
Frozen shoulder typically develops slowly over time and can last anywhere from a few months to several years. Primary frozen shoulder or idiopathic frozen shoulder occurs with no obvious cause. Secondary frozen shoulder is typically caused by an underlying medical condition or an injury of the shoulder joint.
- A sharp or dull pain that worsens when moving the shoulder.
- Significant reduction or limitation in the shoulder's range of motion.
- The muscles around the shoulder may become weaker due to pain, stiffness, and limited mobility, leading to even more difficulties in performing everyday activities.
- Common in individuals older than 40 years old.
- Women are at a higher risk to develop frozen shoulder compared to men.
- People with underlying endocrine disorders such as diabetes, thyroid problems, or those who have undergone shoulder surgery are at a higher risk of developing frozen shoulder.
- Prolonged immobilisation of the shoulder after injury or pain that limits shoulder movement.
Your doctor would first question your general health and symptoms before conducting a thorough physical examination.
Diagnosis is made based on your reported symptoms, physical examination, and investigations.
During a physical examination, your doctor will evaluate the range of motion in your shoulder joint and check for any signs of inflammation or muscle weakness.
Imaging tests such as X-ray and MRI may also be done to evaluate the extent of injury and rule out other causes of pain. An X-ray can help rule out other conditions, such as arthritis or a fracture. An MRI can provide a more detailed view of the soft tissues in the shoulder joint.
Treatment for frozen shoulder typically involves a combination of pain management and physiotherapy.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Apply heat or cold pack to the affected shoulder to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Heat therapy improves blood flow and loosens muscles. Cold therapy reduces swelling and numbs pain.
- Physiotherapy exercises to improve range of motion and strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint.
Surgery to release the tight joint capsule may be considered if symptoms persist and all other treatments have not been successful.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of frozen shoulder, get in touch with us to find out more about our Orthopaedic Services at your nearest Gleneagles Hospital.
Gleneagles Hospital works with orthopaedic specialists to assist patients through diagnosis and treatment. The caring and multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals are available for consultation and to provide the best care.