Information About Frozen Shoulder
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Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a shoulder condition that causes pain in the shoulder joint and immobilizes the shoulder by significantly reducing its range of motion.
Three bones makeup the shoulder. The upper arm bone (humerus), shoulder blade (scapula) and collar bone (clavicle) converge to form a ball-and-socket joint at the shoulder. The end of the upper arm bone (also known as the humeral head) fits into a shallow socket located in the shoulder blade. The shoulder blade in turn joins with the collar bone.
The ball-and-socket shoulder joint is surrounded by a strong connective tissue known as the shoulder capsule. The shoulder capsule and shoulder joint rely on Synovial fluid for mobility. The fluid acts as a lubricate aiding in the movement of the shoulder capsule and shoulder joint.
Often times the shoulder has to be completely immobilized when someone suffers a rotator cuff injury or shoulder fracture. For instance a sling is used to immobilize an injured shoulder. Immobilization allows the injury to set because constant motion aggravates the underlying injury. It can take two –four months for a shoulder fracture injury to heal.
The prolonged period of immobility causes a buildup of scar tissue in the shoulder joint which results in adhesive capsulitis. As the scar tissue sets-in, the shoulder capsule thickens and tightens. This thickening process reduces the amount of the lubricating synovial fluid in the joint. The reduction in lubrication immobilizes the shoulder joint further which increases the thickness of the shoulder capsule and the buildup of scar tissue
Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, develops in three distinct stages:
- Freezing Stage: pains level gradually increase. Increased pain coincides with gradual lose of shoulder mobility. The freezing stage lasts anywhere from seven weeks to nine months.
- Frozen Stage: stiffness and restrictions in mobility remain while pain begins to subside. Activities that rely on shoulder movement or result in shoulder movement will be difficult and painful. The frozen stage lasts anywhere from four to six months.
- Thawing Stage: gradual increase in shoulder mobility. Six months to two years pass before reaching full strength and mobility.
Treatment For Frozen Shoulder
9 out 10 patients improve with conservative nonsurgical treatment. Conservative treatment consists of Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines or corticosteroid injections. Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory that is injected directly into the shoulder. Physical therapy could also be prescribed in an attempt to restore shoulder strength and mobility.
Surgical options consist of manipulation while under anesthesia or arthroscopic surgery. Arthroscopic surgery is a procedure whereby the physician inserts a tiny camera into the shoulder. Images from the camera are shown on a T.V. in the operating room. The surgeon uses the images on the T.V. to perform repairs with tiny surgical instruments. Arthroscopic surgery is considered a minimally invasive surgical procedure. Manipulation while under anesthesia consists of the surgeon putting the patient under anesthesia and forcing the shoulder to move around in an attempt to break-up or tear-up the scar tissue and adhesive capsulitis. This reduces the tightness and increase mobility.
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