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Frozen shoulder

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Inflammation of various tissues of the shoulder, along with growth of abnormal bands of tissue that cause the shoulder to become so stiff that movement is severely limited.

Thickened joint capsule
Thickened joint capsule

Definition

Frozen shoulder, as the name suggests, is a condition where the shoulder becomes painful and hard to move.

Other names

The condition is sometimes called adhesive capsulitis.

Shoulder anatomy

The shoulder is a joint that is made up of many parts. These parts allow you to raise, rotate, and swing your arm. The parts of a normal shoulder are:

  • Humeral head. The ball at the top of the upper arm bone (humerus).
  • Scapula. The shoulder blade.
  • Glenoid. The shallow socket on the scapula. (The humeral head rests on the glenoid.)
  • Capsule. A sheet of tough tissue that encloses the joint and joins the ball to the socket.

Pathophysiology

With frozen shoulder, the capsule thickens, and shrinks and pulls in (contracts).

It's not clear why this happens. It may be from swelling and irritation, or from scar tissue forming. Over time, this may result in pain, stiffness, and loss of movement in the shoulder.

Cause

Experts don’t know for sure why frozen shoulder occurs. Some things can make the condition more likely. These include:

  • Being a woman
  • Being 40 to 60 years old
  • Having certain health conditions, such as diabetes or thyroid disease
  • Taking certain medicines
  • Not using the shoulder for a prolonged period of time, such as after an injury or surgery

Risk factors

  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid problems
  • Changes in your hormones, such as during menopause
  • Shoulder injury
  • Open heart surgery
  • Cervical disk disease of the neck
  • Women 40 to 70 years old are most affected

Symptoms and signs

Frozen shoulder typically occurs in 3 stages. Each stage will vary, but often lasts a few months or longer:

  • Freezing stage. The shoulder is very painful. Pain often gets worse when moving your arm and at night during sleep. The shoulder gradually becomes stiffer.
  • Frozen stage. The shoulder is very stiff and hard to move. Pain may be less than in the first stage. It may be hard to do daily tasks, such as dressing or bathing.
  • Thawing stage. Pain and stiffness slowly get better. In time, normal or almost normal use of the shoulder usually returns.

Treatment

Most cases of frozen shoulder get better, even with no treatment.

  • Prescription or over-the-counter medicines. NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the most common medicines used.
  • Stretching exercises. - Physical therapy
  • Cortisone shots. to reduce inflammation
  • Cold packs and heat packs. to relieve symptoms

Complications

Stiffness and pain continue even with therapy

Prevention

Early treatment may help prevent stiffness. Keep diabetes and other medical conditions under proper treatment.

Some templates adapted from Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)


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