Treatment for Frozen Shoulder

Do you feel a persistent pain or stiffness in your shoulder? This could be due to a frozen shoulder. The shoulder is made up of three bones: the upper arm (humerus), shoulder blade (scapula), and collarbone (clavicle). The humerus fits into a socket and is surrounded by synovial fluid that allows the joint to move without friction. Sometimes, a scar tissue will begin to form in the shoulders, causing the capsule to become too thick and tight. There is less lubrication which makes it hard for the shoulders to move.

Why a Frozen Shoulder Happens

Frozen shoulders frequently happen to people who have recently experienced a shoulder injury or fracture. Other risk factors include being more than 40 years old, being a woman, and having diabetes.

There are 3 stages to a frozen shoulder. The freezing stage is where the pain gradually increases, and most sufferers will have a hard time sleeping at night because of the pain. The next stage is the frozen stage where the pain will no longer worsen but the shoulders will remain stiff. The thawing stage is where the pain will slowly fade away and the shoulder will return to normal.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Once you have been diagnosed by a San Diego orthopedic doctor, you will be given a treatment program based on the stage of your condition and the severity of your pain. It is worth noting that with a frozen shoulder, recovery is slow and may take some time. The initial stage is always the worst in terms of pain, so treatment is mainly focused on relieving it.

The orthopedic doctor may prescribe paracetamol and even give corticosteroid injections if the pain becomes too much to bear. Physical therapy such as stretching and gentle exercises can also be implemented to keep the shoulder mobile and improve the shoulder’s condition.

The 3 Types of Shoulder Fractures

Most people think that the shoulder is made up of only one bone when in fact, it is made up of three types of bones: the collarbone (clavicle), the humerus (upper arm bone), and the shoulder blade (scapula). If any of these three bones get fractured, pain, swelling, tenderness, and a limited range of motion will be experienced by the injured person.

The shoulder fracture can either be displaced or non-displaced. Most fractures are non-displaced, meaning the bone is separated but are still aligned and have not moved from their original position. If the shoulder had been displaced, the bones on opposite sides of the joint are no longer aligned.

Clavicle Fracture

The clavicle is the bone that serves as the connection between the shoulder blade and breastplate. This is the most common shoulder fracture experienced by children, frequently resulting from a fall, direct trauma, or contact sports. The fracture causes the shoulder to sag downwards and is accompanied by a bump, which is the prominent end of the fracture under the skin. The injured person will have difficulty raising the arm because the ends of the broken bones rub off against each other, creating the unnecessary friction.

Proximal Humerus Fracture

The humerus is the bone located at the upper part of the arm that rotates within the shoulder socket. This fracture is experienced by people who have osteoporosis, a medical condition where the bones become weak and brittle, making them more susceptible to a fracture.

Scapula Fracture

The scapula is a flat, triangular bone that connects the humerus and the clavicle. The scapula fracture is the rarest type of fracture because the shoulder blade does not break quite so easily, and it is protected by the chest and surrounding muscles.

If the shoulder fracture is severe, it needs to be seen by a San Diego orthopedic surgeon so that the right treatment plan can be implemented and the road to recovery can begin right away.

Signs and Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Injury

The rotator cuff is composed of muscles and tendons around the shoulder joint. The surrounding muscles allow a person to lift and rotate the arms, and keep the upper arm bone in the shoulder socket.

If you notice that your child is hurting whenever he reaches behind his back or winces when reaching for the seat belt, this could be due to a rotator cuff injury. Shoulder pain when attempting to reach or lift, or even when at rest is the first sign of a rotator cuff injury. A snapping or a cracking sound can also accompany the shoulder pain.

This type of injury frequently happens to children who are involved in sports and perform overhead motions repeatedly. Young athletes such as baseball pitchers, archers, and tennis players are especially susceptible.

What to Do If Your Child is Injured

An early diagnosis and treatment of a rotator cuff injury can make a huge difference. It is important to see a family doctor once your child experiences a loss of motion after getting the shoulder injured. The pain can be treated with medication, as well as a combination of stretching and exercises to make the shoulder stronger and more flexible over time.

If the shoulder pain still remains for a long time, your child will need to be seen immediately by a San Diego orthopedic doctor, and surgery can be done if the injury is severe. A traditional open surgery is used for large rotator cuff tears, while an arthroscopic surgery is recommended for a smaller one. The latter is minimally invasive where a small camera called the arthroscope is inserted in the incision so that the surgeon can see the rotator cuff tear in greater detail and fix it. If the injury is left untreated, it can lead to a degeneration of the joint.

Shoulder Instability: Why It Happens

Did you know that the shoulder is the most moveable joint of the entire body? Because of its wide range of motion, the shoulder is more susceptible to injury. Shoulder instability happens when the shoulder joint becomes too loose, causing the top of the upper arm bone to move out of its socket. The muscles, tendons, and ligaments become less secure in the shoulder joint, causing the humeral bone to dislocate either from overuse or direct trauma.

Shoulder instability happens frequently among athletes, so if your child actively participates in competitive sports, you should watch out for this type of injury. Athletes who play sports that require strong overhead motions like baseball and volleyball are especially vulnerable. The repetitive shoulder movement causes the muscles and connective tissues to weaken over time. Direct trauma can also cause shoulder instability simply by doing everyday activities such as falling down the stairs or falling off a bicycle.

Symptoms of Shoulder Instability

Your child may complain about a sensation of “looseness” and pain in the shoulder. There is also a feeling of numbness and weakness during activities that require raising the arm and moving the shoulders. Other conditions such as inflammation and bursitis can also develop. If left untreated, a shoulder instability can also lead to dislocation, rotator cuff injuries, and other conditions.

Shoulder pain doesn’t have to be a part of your child’s life. To get an accurate diagnosis, schedule an appointment with a San Diego pediatric orthopedic doctor. The doctor will perform a physical examination and an X-ray, as well as analyze your child’s medical history. If the shoulder instability cannot be fixed with conservative treatments, an arthroscopic surgery can be done to relieve the discomfort, as well as restore the function and mobility of your child’s shoulders.

What is a Frozen Shoulder?

A person may have a frozen shoulder if simple activities such as scratching one’s back or pulling a book from an overhead shelf has become such a chore. Also known as adhesive capsulitis, a frozen shoulder is a disorder that causes a lot of pain, stiffness, and a limited range of motion.

Frozen shoulder happens when the soft tissues in the shoulder bones become inflamed from overuse or a chronic disorder. Injuries such as tendinitis, bursitis, or a rotator cuff injury can also lead to frozen shoulder.

The inflammation causes the capsule in the shoulder joint to become fibrotic, limiting the movement of the shoulder. This condition is serious, and can lead to disability if not treated properly over time.

How is Frozen Shoulder Treated? 

First aid comes in the form of heat therapy to improve blood circulation, while ice reduces the inflammation of the affected area. Treatment usually begins by taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. A localized steroid injection like cortisone can also be used.

If these treatments are not helping, a San Diego orthopedic surgeon can perform surgery to loosen up the tight tissues and help speed up the healing process. There are two types of outpatient procedures to fix a frozen shoulder. The first one is closed manipulation, where the patient is put to sleep and the arm is stretched into different positions to loosen up the stiffness. The second one is called arthroscopic capsular surgery, which involves making a small incision in the shoulder joint and using an arthroscope to probe and release the tightness.

Most orthopedic doctors combine these two procedures in order to achieve the best results. After surgery, the patient is recommended to undergo physical therapy for faster recovery and to minimize the chances of the frozen shoulder from reoccurring.

What to Do When Your Child’s Shoulder Gets Dislocated

The chances of a shoulder dislocation happening to your kid are higher than you may think. To get an idea of how a dislocation happens, imagine the shoulder as a golf ball sitting on a tee. The dislocation happens when the golf ball comes out of the socket.

Because the shoulder has a wide range of motion and can move in different directions, it is considered as the body’s most mobile joint. However, this quality comes at a price: the joint is increasingly unstable, which makes the shoulder vulnerable and easy to dislocate.

Dislocation happens the moment the adjoining bones are no longer aligned with each other. The direction of the dislocation can be at the front (anterior) or at the bottom (inferior), but rarely at the back (posterior).

Causes of Shoulder Dislocation

Shoulder dislocations are caused by injuries from contact sports such as football. Anterior shoulder dislocations happen when the arm is outstretched and is then forced backwards, something that frequently happens during arm tackling in football. Dislocations can also be caused by significant trauma not necessarily related to sports, such as during a fall or a vehicle accident.

Dislocations are often quite painful, and are usually accompanied by swelling, bruising, and tenderness. There may even be partial numbness and inability to move the joint.

Difference between Subluxation and Dislocation

Dislocation means that the shoulder’s ball and socket have been disconnected from each other, while subluxation is a type of dislocation where there is less trauma, and the ball and socket are not fully separated.

Treatment for Shoulder Dislocation

If your child’s shoulder gets dislocated, the first course of action is to put the injured shoulder in a splint or sling, then put some ice to reduce the swelling and relieve the pain.

The next step is to seek professional medical attention. You will need to consult with a San Diego pediatric orthopedic surgeon to put your child’s shoulder back into place. This process is called reduction.