Experiencing Shoulder Pain? What To Expect If You Have A Frozen Shoulder

If you're having shoulder pain or stiffness that's not caused by an injury or exertion, you might have a frozen shoulder. A frozen shoulder is caused by swelling in the joint that limits mobility. It's not usually associated with an injury, but instead it can develop as a side effect of certain medical conditions such as diabetes and breast cancer surgery. You may not even know what triggered your condition, but it can be easily diagnosed by your doctor. The condition is reversible, although it may take many months to make a full recovery. Here's what you should know about dealing with a frozen shoulder.

The Progression Of Frozen Shoulder

In the initial stages, you'll probably have quite a bit of shoulder pain and you'll notice your shoulder seems stiff and your range of motion is becoming limited. During this time, the swelling builds in your joint ,and your tendons and other tissues become inflamed and sore. When your shoulder reaches the frozen stage, your pain should improve, but your mobility will be further reduced. You may not be able to move your arms above your head or stretch your arms out to the side. At this point, the swelling is so severe it crowds your shoulder joint and prevents movement of your shoulder. In the final stage, the swelling gradually fades away and your arm movement returns to normal.

The Types Of Treatment

Exercise is an important treatment for frozen shoulder. Range of motion exercises help you maintain as much normal arm movement as possible. Moving your shoulder also helps prevent the development of adhesions that can permanently interfere with shoulder movement. If you are unable to move your shoulder by yourself, you may need to see a physical therapist to receive passive exercises that will keep your shoulder joint limber. Even though movement may be painful, it's important to exercise the joint every day. Otherwise, complications such as muscle atrophy, weakness, slow recovery, and loss of joint mobility can develop.

If your frozen shoulder is more severe, you might need to have medical procedures to help treat it. Your doctor may need to manually rotate your shoulder joint to break up adhesions that have developed, and that prevent you from moving your arm normally. The doctor numbs your shoulder first, so the procedure won't be painful. If that doesn't help restore your mobility, surgery may be needed. During the surgical procedure, the doctor removes inflamed and scarred tissues. This surgery is often done using scopes inserted through tiny punctures in your skin. With the adhesions removed, your shoulder should have improved range of motion.

Pain Management Options

There are various ways to deal with the pain of frozen shoulder depending on your individual tolerance. Over-the-counter pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs might be all you need. If they are not strong enough for your pain, your doctor might give you prescription pain pills. Steroid injections might also help. Applying moist heat or ice packs could also offer some relief.

Frozen shoulder is a condition that develops gradually and then goes away gradually. Therefore, you'll need to work with your doctor or physical therapist until you find a way to manage your long-term pain effectively.