Many people find themselves with frozen shoulder after they’ve injured their shoulder, usually after a car accident or sports injury. Frozen shoulder is a complex disease that can affect anyone for 1-2 years. If you have frozen shoulder, it will go through phases of pain, at first causing you extreme pain that may make you believe you’ve torn your rotator cuff. After a few months, your pain will plateau and a stiffness will settle into your joint. For a long period of time, sometimes up to a whole year, your shoulder will have very limited range of motion and may feel consistently uncomfortable. Your symptoms and the amount of time you spend managing frozen shoulder can be very different from others with the same condition. Thankfully, conservative techniques can help you work around frozen shoulder and keep it from disrupting your life.
Because the initial pain from frozen shoulder can be confused for another shoulder condition, it is important to see an expert, like Dr. Leon E. Popovitz, to get a proper diagnosis. While frozen shoulder usually sets in after a patient goes through a shoulder injury, it can start for any number of reasons that aren’t always clear. It is usually an idiopathic condition, however it does affect women ages 45-65 most and may have some connection to diabetes. In addition, frozen shoulder cannot be completely corrected with any one treatment. While there are treatment options that can help alleviate symptoms, the disease must run its course and heal on its own.
Despite the fact that it will be hard to move your shoulder, you should keep using the affected arm. Physical therapy is helpful for many reasons. It will stretch your shoulder to prevent further stiffness, strengthen rotator cuff muscles to prevent atrophy from disuse, as well as decrease inflammation around the joint to alleviate pain. Most importantly, your physical therapist can provide guidance for moving your shoulder more easily throughout daily life. For more severe cases, cortisone injections can help reduce inflammation which relieves pain for long periods of time. This can help you move normally while your shoulder heals and will help you get the most out of stretches and exercises. After having frozen shoulder once, it is much more likely that symptoms will arise again in the future. This is why seeing an orthopedist and following your physical therapist’s suggestions is extremely important for your joint health.