Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder (also called adhesive capsulitis) is a condition that occurs when the connective tissue surrounding the shoulder joint becomes inflamed and thickened, resulting in loss of movement, and pain or stiffness in your shoulder.

The pain and loss of movement can affect your daily activities as it can make it difficult to move your arm or lift objects.

There are two main categories of frozen shoulder:

  • Primary frozen shoulder: Also known as idiopathic frozen shoulder, which means it occurs with no obvious cause.
  • Secondary frozen shoulder: This condition is typically caused by an underlying medical condition or an injury of the shoulder joint.

What are the symptoms of frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder typically develops slowly over time and can last anywhere from a few months to several years. Symptoms include:

  • Pain: The most obvious symptom of a frozen shoulder is a sharp or dull pain that worsens when moving the shoulder.
  • Stiffness and limited mobility: There is also significant reduction or limitation in the shoulder's range of motion, making it difficult to move the arm in certain directions or perform simple activities such as brushing hair or reaching for objects.
  • Weakness: Due to pain, stiffness, and limited mobility, the muscles around the shoulder may become weaker, leading to even more difficulty in performing everyday activities.

What are the risk factors of frozen shoulder?

Following are factors that can increase the risk of frozen shoulder:

  • Age: Common in individuals older than 40 years old.
  • Gender: Women are at a higher risk to develop frozen shoulder compared to men.
  • Underlying medical conditions: Individuals with endocrine disorders such as diabetes, thyroid problems, or those who have undergone shoulder surgery.
  • Prolonged immobilisation: Prolonged immobilisation of the shoulder after injury or pain that limits shoulder movement.

How is frozen shoulder diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made based on various investigations. Your doctor will first evaluate your medical history and symptoms before conducting a physical examination.

During a physical examination, your doctor will evaluate the range of motion in your shoulder joint and check for any signs of inflammation or muscle weakness.

Imaging tests such as X-ray and MRI may also be done to evaluate the extent of injury and rule out other causes of pain. An X-ray can help rule out other conditions, such as arthritis or a fracture. An MRI can provide a more detailed view of the soft tissues in the shoulder joint.

How is frozen shoulder treated?

Treatment for frozen shoulder typically involves a combination of pain management and physiotherapy.

  • Pain management:
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
    • Applying heat or cold pack to the affected shoulder can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Heat therapy improves blood flow and loosens muscles. Cold therapy reduces swelling and numbs pain.
  • Physiotherapy: Exercises to improve range of motion and strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint.
  • Surgery: Surgery to release the tight joint capsule may be considered if symptoms persist and all other treatments have not been successful.

Book an appointment at Pantai Hospitals

A dedicated and expert team of Orthopaedic specialists at Pantai Hospital is available for consultation to provide the best care and assistance.

Get in touch with us to book an appointment today if you have concerns or questions regarding frozen shoulder. We assure you the best possible care tailored to your specific needs.

Pantai Hospital has been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

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