Is your shoulder stiff and painful? How long has your motion range been limited? If you cannot complete simple activities like taking a book off a shelf, you might be suffering from a frozen shoulder.
This painful condition makes the joint capsule abnormally thick and tight, thus restricting the movements of individuals. Scar tissue accumulation occurs while the synovial fluid is reduced in amount. The role of this liquid is to ensure the joint stays lubricated.
Frozen shoulder progresses in stages, which might last up to two years.
Have a look at the symptoms and stages of this condition, along with some of the best exercises for patients to perform.
What is it?
Frozen shoulder is a medical condition that manifests with stiffness, pain, and loss of motion range in the joint. This condition is likely to worsen with time if not treated shortly after its development. The glenohumeral joint helps in moving the shoulder forward and backward, along with allowing arm rotations.
Moreover, the condition usually starts with an injury or soft tissue inflammation. These are mainly overuse injuries like tendinitis and bursitis of the rotator cuff. Check out the structure, function, and clinical significance of the rotator cuff.
Inflammation is what triggers pain and limits the motion range. The glenohumeral joint is surrounded by connective tissue, which contracts and becomes thicker when the joint is immobilized. Consequently, the stretching capacity is significantly reduced.
Additionally, this medical condition takes between two and nine months to fully develop. During this period, the pain might lessen, but the stiffness and motion range limitations remain. Frozen shoulder develops in three phases, freezing, frozen, and thawing stage. Every stage is characterized by a specific timeline and symptoms.
During the freezing stage, pain is developed in the joint whenever you move it, which becomes severe, especially at night. This phase lasts between six and nine months. During the frozen stage, the pain is usually reduced, but the stiffness becomes worse.
It’s harder for individuals to make movements and complete their daily activities. This stage ranges between four and twelve months. The thawing stage is when your motion range goes back to normal, which might take between six months and two years.
The main purpose of frozen shoulder treatment is to preserve the joint’s flexibility and mobility. Patients must be aware that recovery takes time, as many as a few years. The condition can be alleviated in multiple ways, such as by using painkillers, cold or hot compression packs, corticosteroid injections, capsule release, physical therapy, etc. Physical therapy is considered an incredibly effective treatment for frozen shoulder, conducted through exercises. The types of exercises differ across stages.
Most doctors tend to prescribe painkillers to patients for pain relief, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophens, and others. Also, hot and cold compression packs assist in pain reduction and swelling. Another way to alleviate pain is by using corticosteroid injections administered in the joint to improve the motion range.
Furthermore, capsule release refers to a surgical procedure performed to release the tight capsule, which causes the condition. This option is recommended to patients that don’t respond well to physiotherapy or any other treatments. The procedure is either performed by using a general anesthetic or by blocking the nerves that lead to the arm. Three incisions should be made for surgeons to insert the surgical instruments and arthroscopic camera.
Frozen shoulder exercises are essential in the treatment of this medical condition. Patients are advised to warm up their shoulders prior to performing the exercises. The best warmup method includes taking a warm shower for 10-15 minutes. The same effect can be achieved by using a damp heating pad. The stretches patients make while exercising should be to a tension point, not the point of pain.
There is a series of stretching exercises for individuals to perform. The first exercise on your list should be the pendulum stretch. See this link, https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/pendulum-exercises-for-shoulders, to discover some pendulum exercises for shoulder rehabilitation. Start by relaxing your shoulders and leaning over slightly while in a standing position. The injured arm should hang down, and you need to swing it a circle with a small diameter.
Ten revolutions are supposed to be made in both directions on a daily basis. Once the symptoms improve, the diameter of the swing can be increased. Another stretching exercise to try is the towel stretch. You’ll need a towel three-foot-long to hold behind your back. Hold each end of the towel with one hand. Initially, the towel has to be in a horizontal position.
Make sure you use the healthy arm to pull the injured arm in an upward direction to stretch it. These stretches should be performed between ten and twenty times per day. Another stretching exercise to try is the finger walk. You should face a wall while standing at a distance of three-quarters of the length of your arm.
Once you measure the distance, you should reach out to touch the surface with the fingertips of your injured arm. Afterward, use your fingers to walk up the wall till your arm is raised enough without causing pain. Keep in mind that you should rely on your fingers, not the shoulder muscles. The task of raising and lowering your arm must be repeated at least ten times.
Cross-body reach is another stretching exercise to give a try. You can either stand or sit, but you need to use your healthy arm to lift the painful one at the elbow level and bring it across the body. The pressure on the shoulder used during stretching should be gentle. The length of the stretch is recommended to be between fifteen and twenty seconds.
As soon as your motion range improves, you can add some strengthening exercises, such as outward rotation and inward rotation. Both exercises require a rubber exercise band.
To sum up
Physical therapy does wonders for patients suffering from frozen shoulders.
It provides long-term effects!