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Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)


Frozen shoulder is categorized by 3 main stages:

  1. Freezing Stage: Pain is sharp and the range of motion of the arm starts to be compromised. Can last 3-6 months.
  2. Frozen Stage: Pain lessens but the stiffness increases and the arm feels weak. Can last a few years.
  3. Thawing Stage: Slowly, the range of motion returns. Can last a few years.                                     

Symptoms tend to feel worse at night.

If you have had a shoulder injury, chances of developing frozen shoulder rise. Rotator cuff injury, stroke, fractured arm , etc can be precursors.

It is more common with certain pre-existing conditions egs hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, diabetes, heart disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Women over 40 are the most at-risk group.

Women recovering from a mastectomy are also at risk.

Without treatment, frozen shoulder can persist forever, so be sure to develop a plan of action with your doctor and physiotherapist that will aid in your recovery, since the proper treatment plan can reduce the duration of symptoms and stages.

Examples of modalities that might be used :

Stage 1: Mobilizations, muscle release, acupuncture , dry needling, kinesiotaping, TENS, hot and / cold packs with stretches( active and passive), pulleys, pendular exercises, strengthening exercises

( may include isometrics, scapular stabilization- and resistance band exercises) , patient education including relaxation techniques.

Medical treatment may include NSAIDs (non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or topicals, and cortisone injections if warranted.

Stag 2-3: More aggressive mobilizations and mobilizations with movement, and progressive strengthening , together with  treatment techniques listed above that are still appropriate.

Seek treatment early if you feel you might be at risk for developing Frozen Shoulder , since clinically, this is when I can be of most assistance.

Photo: Oleg Ivanov

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