Adhesive Capsulitis of the Shoulder or Frozen Shoulder
Adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder, also known as frozen shoulder, is a condition in which the connective tissue surrounding the glenohumeral joint becomes thick and tight, resulting in joint stiffness and pain.
The frequency of adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder varies, but it is estimated to affect approximately 2-5% of the general population.
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Causes of Frozen Shoulder
Causes of Frozen Shoulder
The exact causes of a stiff or frozen shoulder are not fully understood. However, its onset is often related to:
A shoulder injury or surgery can increase the risk of developing a frozen shoulder.
Adhesive capsulitis is more common in people with diabetes, affecting approximately 10-20% of individuals with this condition.
Some medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, and heart disease have also been associated with frozen shoulder.
Believe it or not, physical therapy can play a role in the development of a stiff shoulder, especially if incorrect or excessive stretching exercises are performed.
Risk Factors for Adhesive Capsulitis
In addition to the potential causes mentioned above, there are some risk factors that may increase the likelihood of developing adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder. These factors include:
Symptoms of Frozen Shoulder
The symptoms of adhesive capsulitis can vary in intensity and duration depending on each individual. Some common symptoms include:
Stiffness in the shoulder is one of the primary symptoms of frozen shoulder and can limit normal shoulder movement.
Shoulder pain is another common symptom, which can be constant or intermittent and worsen with joint movement.
Stiffness and pain in the shoulder often make it challenging to perform basic activities like combing hair, getting dressed, or reaching for objects on high shelves.
Diagnosis of Adhesive Capsulitis
The diagnosis of adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder is primarily based on clinical evaluation and the patient’s symptoms. In this regard, the specialist conducts a physical examination to assess shoulder mobility and strength, as well as to identify any signs of stiffness or pain.
In addition to the physical examination, imaging tests (X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging) may be necessary to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms and confirm the diagnosis of adhesive capsulitis.
Unlike other joint conditions, there is no specific test to diagnose adhesive capsulitis, so the doctor will rely on symptoms, physical findings, and imaging tests to finalize the diagnosis.
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Treatments for Adhesive Capsulitis of the Shoulder
The treatment of adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder aims to relieve pain, improve mobility, and restore shoulder function. Treatment options include:
Stretching and strengthening exercises can help improve shoulder mobility and reduce stiffness. The therapist may also use manual therapy techniques to enhance shoulder function.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce pain and inflammation in the shoulder. In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be administered directly into the joint to relieve pain and inflammation.
In severe cases of adhesive capsulitis, shoulder manipulation under anesthesia may be considered. During this procedure, the doctor gently manipulates the shoulder to break up adhesions and improve mobility.
In extremely rare or severe cases where other treatments have been ineffective, surgery may be considered. Surgery for adhesive capsulitis of the shoulder typically involves releasing adhesions and manipulating the joint to restore mobility.