We know very little about the cause of frozen shoulder – it has, however, been proven to be more common in diabetics and women over the age of 40. Some research has revealed that frozen shoulder has also been related to a traumatic event, not necessarily to the shoulder in question, but a traumatic event either physical or psychological.
Named also Adhesive Capsulitis, its essentially just that, whereby the capsule adheres to the humeral head, creating a lack of movement in each direction.
The frozen shoulder usually lasts about 9-12 months. It is broken down into 3 phases that generally last 3-4 months but this pattern is vague and the rate of progress I’ve noticed varies remarkably between individual.
- The first phase is predominantly pain – where the patient cannot find a comfortable position, and range of movement (ROM) is mildly restricted.
- The second phase in painful and very stiff – where the pain may have receded a little from first phase but ROM is severely restricted in the all directions.
- The third phase is mostly stiffness – where the pain subsides a lot and the range of movement slowly returns.
Eventually the shoulder should recover i.e it’s is a self-limiting problem.
On ultrasound you may see some fluid in the biciptial sheath of the long head of biceps but otherwise the frozen shoulder is relatively hard to diagnose via investigation. The best way to diagnose is symptomatically and historically.
Physiotherapy can help ease the pain in the first two stages and then help regain movement in the third phase. If caught in the early stage, hydrodilation and/or cortisone administered by a doctor are arguably a treatment that can reduce the lifespan of frozen shoulder, however, there are no known methods of conservative management that will speed up the recovery process. Therapy for this problem is aimed at pain management and functional rehabilitation.