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.

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