What is a Frozen Shoulder?
Shoulder pain and stiffness can be severe and debilitating. It affects your daily function, quality of life, as well as mental health. No matter how long you have been experiencing shoulder pain, the underlying cause should not be underestimated, and it may be due to a frozen shoulder.
A frozen shoulder can manifest as the following symptoms:
• Shoulder pain
• Shoulder stiffness or loss of flexibility
• Difficulty putting on clothes, especially T-shirts and brassiere.
• Shoulder pain when lying on your side to sleep
• Associated neck and upper back pain
Frozen shoulder affects women more often than men, and also patients in their 40s to 60s, and are also common in patients with the following medical conditions:
- Autoimmune thyroid disease
- Depuytren’s disease
- Cervical disc disease
- Previous trauma or upper limb surgery
Symptoms may vary from person to person.
How is a frozen shoulder treated?
Frozen shoulder is a condition that is diagnosed clinically. This means that your surgeon will make this diagnosis based on your clinical history and the outcome of the clinical examination of your shoulder. X-rays and MRI scans of your shoulder are not necessary unless they are used to exclude other conditions such as fractures, arthritis, or rotator cuff tears.
The painful and stiff phase of a frozen shoulder may last anywhere from 6 weeks to 9 months. This stiff phase may last for another 5 to 9 months. The thawing phase, where the patient's range of motion gradually returns, may take another 6 to 12 months. It is important to manage the pain and stiffness of a frozen shoulder adequately and supplemented with anti-inflammatory medication, long-term physiotherapy and stretching exercises.
Anti-inflammatory medication and physiotherapy are conservative treatment techniques which provide significant relief from shoulder pain and stiffness. They must be followed for several months by a motivated patient to reap the benefits of the treatment.
Shoulder joint local anaesthetic and steroid injections may be instituted early on to prevent escalation of the shoulder pain and stiffness. It allows rapid relief of shoulder pain and enables patients to perform better quality stretching and physiotherapy exercises to accelerate their healing.
Surgery for a frozen shoulder may be performed in severe cases where all previous methods have failed over a reasonable amount of time. Key hole or arthroscopic surgery is done to release the thick and contracted shoulder capsule to enable patients more flexibility in their shoulder. This surgery should be the last resort if and when other conservative methods have failed.
How long will it take for a frozen shoulder to recover?
The shoulder treatments at Orion Orthopaedic are designed to optimize your rehabilitation and improve your shoulder function with multiple techniques and approaches. Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Mizan will customise your treatment plan and enable you to return to your active lifestyles and activities.
How do I know if I have a frozen shoulder or if I have torn my rotator cuff?
Frozen shoulder leads to global stiffness and pain in all parts of your shoulder with restricted movement in all directions. A torn rotator cuff may cause a specific pain over the lateral or outside edge of your shoulder with pain with moving in specific directions only (shoulder abduction).
How do I know if my shoulder injury/frozen shoulder is serious?
Serious or severe conditions affect your daily activities, quality of life and mental health if they are persistent or get worse. This may occur despite medication or physiotherapy. You are advised to seek professional medical assistance if you are experiencing these symptoms. It is important to get an accurate diagnosis and begin effective rehabilitation.
Can I claim insurance for my shoulder injury?
Shoulder injuries are insurance claimable. We do advise our patients to check with their personal or corporate insurance plans and representatives. We are also able to help them with this if required.
What should I do right now while waiting for my appointment and treatment?
You are advised to take simple medication such as anti-inflammatories and do both passive and active stretching exercises of your neck, shoulder and upper back. These methods are important in managing your shoulder pain and stiffness.