Frozen Shoulder. It sounds like it should be what you get when Olaf from Frozen brushes you off. But it’s a painful condition that affects around 3 in every 100 people in the UK. It might be something you’ve heard of, but what is it? Let’s take a look.
How Does Frozen Shoulder Affect Your Shoulder?
Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition that affects the shoulder joint. It’s a long-term condition where you will feel pain and stiffness. It will also limit the movement in your arm and shoulder for some time.
The shoulder is made up of a ball and socket joint. The ‘ball’ part is formed by the top of your upper arm bone, known as the humerus, which moves in the rounded socket, the glenoid fossa, that sits at the edge of your shoulder blade.
The bones that make up the shoulder joints are covered with cartilage that’s smooth and slippery to ease each motion. This is also lubricated by fluids to keep it moving comfortably. Everything is then enclosed with a loose, fibrous capsule.
The Stages of a Frozen Shoulder
Frozen shoulder is a condition that develops slowly. The symptoms usually come in three stages. Known as the freezing, frozen, and thawing stages. These stages can overlap, but can also occur as a side-effect of other conditions, like an infection or damage to the tendons/muscles in your shoulder. If the latter is the case, you might get the symptoms described below, without it being a frozen shoulder.
The ‘freezing’ stage of a frozen shoulder can last from anywhere between a couple of months up to around 9 months. The pain will gradually get worse over time with associated stiffness, and will occur when you try to move your shoulder in any direction. It will also start to limit your range of movement. Again, it’s not something that just happens overnight, so you may not notice it initially or consider it to be just ‘wear-n-tear’.
The second stage, known as frozen, often sees a reduction in pain, which can mislead people into thinking they are getting better. This stage can last up to a year. Whilst the pain you feel may be reduced, the stiffness in your shoulder will increase. Your movements will become even more limited which can impact your day-to-day activities.
The good news is that the final ‘thawing’ stage is the recovery period. Whilst it will have taken months to get to this point. Over time the movement in your shoulder will begin to return. That said, you may still feel some degree of pain until it is completely recovered.
How Will Frozen Shoulder Affect Me?
Many people with frozen shoulders find that their sleep is affected, because of the pain whilst they’re asleep. Rolling over onto the affected shoulder, or their partner leaning on it, can mean the pain is worse at night. Frozen shoulder tends to affect people over 40 years of age and does affect more women than men. You are also more likely to develop the condition if you already have diabetes, an over-active (or under-active) thyroid, Parkinson’s or any cardiovascular disease.
How can You Treat a Frozen Shoulder?
The best news is that frozen shoulders can be treated. If you have a pain in your shoulder, then you should see your Chiropractor who will be able to assess you thoroughly. Professional chiropractors are trained to deal with muscular and joint pain. With some expert care and attention, you’ll soon be in the right hands to give frozen shoulders the cold shoulder!
If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you and your frozen shoulder, get in touch today. Give us a call on 01604 754456 or fill in our enquiry form on our contact page.
Nick has been treating patients for over 9 years. He currently works in clinics in Duston and Milton Keynes.