Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a common condition that usually affects people aged between 40 and 60. It is characterized by stiffness and persistent pain in one or both shoulders, that reduces its mobility.
When scar tissue starts to form in the shoulder, the capsule of the joint thickens and tightens, so the movement becomes difficult and stiff. When it comes to causes of this condition, in most cases, it occurs as a result of a recent injury or fracture, even though its exact cause is not fully understood.
Signs and symptoms develop gradually and usually resolve on their own. Women older than 40 are at the highest risk of frozen shoulder, and these are the common risk factors:
— People older than 40
— Women are at an increased risk of this condition
— A surgery or an arm fracture
— As well as heart disease, stroke, hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, Parkinson’s, and hypothyroidism.
The symptoms worsen gradually over time and usually resolve within a few years. They are classified into three stages:
- Freezing, or painful stage: Pain aggravates over time, and is worse during the night. This stage lasts for -9 months.
- Frozen: This stage lasts for 4-6 months. The pain remains the same, and might even decrease. The shoulder is still stiff, and the movement is restricted.
- Thawing: Pain fades, and the movement gets easier. This stage lasts between 6 months and 2 years.
This condition is diagnosed based on the symptoms, signs, and a physical exam, while the structural problems can only be identified with the help of imaging tests, like an X-ray or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
According to Brett Sears, PT:
“A diagnosis is made by observing the range of motion of your shoulder. Here is how you can do it:
1. Stand in front of a mirror, or have a friend or family member observe you as you move your arm and shoulder. You or your friend should be watching for the quantity of your shoulder motion as well as the quality of the motion.
2. Slowly raise both arms up in front of you and overhead. If you have a frozen shoulder, your painful arm may only raise to a point just past parallel with the floor. Plus, your shoulder blade will rise up unnaturally and your painful shoulder may move up towards your ear. As you lift your arm, you may also feel pain in your shoulder. Slowly lower your arm.
3. Then, slowly lift your arm out to the side, again observing the amount of motion that occurs. If your shoulder only goes up to a point that is just level with the floor, and if it is painful, then you may have a frozen shoulder. Your shoulder may also move up towards your ear like in the previous motion test.
4. Finally, stand with both arms at your side and keep your elbows bent to 90 degrees. While keeping your elbows tucked into your sides, rotate your arms out. This direction of motion is called external rotation. If you have a frozen shoulder, the painful side will not rotate out as far as your non-painful arm.”
Fortunately, regular exercise will help you prevent and reverse this condition, and the following simple exercises recommended by the Harvard Medical School will be of great help:
Place a towel behind the back, grab its both ends and pull it, along with the painful arm, with the unaffected arm, up toward the shoulder. Make 10-20 repetitions daily.
Start in a standing position, with the shoulders relaxed, and lean forward with the hand of the unaffected arm resting on a table. Let the painful arm hang down vertically and swing in a small circle, around 1 foot in diameter, and gradually increase the diameter over time.
Exercise will help you improve the mobility and flexibility in the shoulder, and the symptoms can also be relieved in the following ways:
- Hot or cold compression packs will reduce the pain and swelling
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) numbs the nerve endings in the spinal cord that control pain
- Physical therapy maintains the mobility and flexibility of the shoulder
- Shoulder manipulation
- -Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive type of surgery with the aim to eliminate any scar tissue or adhesions.
Furthermore, there are effective natural remedies that fight inflammation, the main cause of this condition.
The following juices will help you soothe the symptoms of shoulder pain in a natural and safe way since they are extremely powerful anti-inflammatory combinations:
Pineapple Juice- Juice 1 Pineapple, 1 cucumber, 1-inch ginger root, and 10 ribs of celery. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Beetroot Juice- Juice 6 large, unpeeled beetroots, 1 unpeeled lemon, and 1-inch ginger root.
Try them out and soothe the pain in a delicious way!