Have you got a frozen shoulder???
Probably not! A true ‘Adhesive Capsulitis‘ is a condition that can be diagnosed by numerous
physical characteristics including a thickening of the connective tissue that surrounds and covers the glenohumeral joint, adhesions within bursa or adhesions to the tendon of the biceps muscle. The condition affects between 3-5% of the general population and of these, up to 20% of those suffer from Diabetes.
The condition has 3 phases
1- the ‘freezing stage’. This can last up to 9 months and is characterized by pain in the joint and a gradual loss of range of motion.
2- the ‘frozen’ stage. This phase can last up to a year and is characterized by almost total loss of range of motion especially external rotation. Pain may not worsen and eventually it may not be present when taking the joint to its end of range. The shoulder is physically frozen and cannot be moved passively.
3- the ‘thawing’ stage- is the gradual return to full range of motion in the joint and can take several years
Risk factors for Adhesive Capsulitis include: female gender, ages 40-60, thyroid disease, diabetes, or autoimmune disease, and/or trauma, stroke, heart attack, or prolonged immobilization. There are exceptions to these risk factors and Adhesive Capsulitis can be seen in younger men and women without any of these risk factors.
A full assessment with a thorough History can help diagnose Adhesive Capsulitis (AC). There is often a loss of both active and passive range of movement and pain is often reported at the end of the available range. Other shoulder tests can also show a positive due to the pain on movement in general and the pathology within the joint.
Treating a true ‘Frozen Shoulder‘ can be tricky and there is no best course of action. Research suggests that early intervention and diagnosis is important and that a combination of steroids and physiotherapy can have a good outcome. Surgery is an option and can have long term positive benefits but as with any surgery, comes with risks.
If you are experiencing shoulder pain and would like to get it assessed then please get in touch to make an appointment. Remember…… early intervention (as with so many injuries) can have better long term effects