WHAT IS FROZEN SHOULDER

Frozen shoulder, medically known as adhesive capsulitis,  is a condition characterised by pain & stiffness in your shoulder joint. There is a 3% chance of developing this condition in a lifetime. 

WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS?

  • Age above 40 years old 
  • Female gender
  • Reduced mobility due to injury or post-surgery
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Systemic diseases such as diabetes (10-20%), thyroid conditions, tuberculosis, cardiovascular diseases or Parkinson’s disease

HOW DOES IT OCCUR?

To understand how frozen shoulder occurs, it is important to first understand the anatomy of your shoulder joint.

Your shoulder is made up of three bones which are your upper arm (humerus), shoulder blade (scapula) and collarbone (clavicle). Together they form a ball-and-socket joint which is surrounded by tissues that keep the joint stable at the same time allowing movement, this is called your shoulder capsule.

In frozen shoulder, the capsule becomes so thick and tight, hence, restricting movement which is felt as stiffness and causing inflammation which results in pain.

3 STAGES OF FROZEN SHOULDER

1. Freezing Stage

Sudden onset of pain is felt on your shoulder upon movement. Pain gradually worsens and it is worst at night. This stage can last from n6 to 9 months.

2. Frozen Stage

Pain is reduced at this stage but stiffness is increased, further limiting your range of movement.

3. Thawing Stage

Stiffness is reducing, range of movement is improving. This process usually takes about 6 months to 3 years.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

The management of frozen shoulder involves consistent rehabilitation over a long period. The goals of treatment are to reduce pain and inflammation and to preserve range of motion along your shoulder joint.

Short-term treatment

  • Over-the-counter pain medications for temporary pain relief

Long-term treatment

  • Aim at improving and preserving range of motion of your shoulder joint over time.
  • Ice/heat pack
  • Electrotherapy such as TENS, EMS or therapeutic ultrasound
  • Shoulder mobilisation & manipulation
  • Stretching & strengthening exercises

WILL I FULLY RECOVER?

Although frozen shoulder may take 1 to 3 years to resolve, it is important to note that personal motivation, compliance and commitment is a huge contributor to a fast recovery. 60% of cases do resolve within 2 years with 90 to 100% return of shoulder function.