Have Your Frozen Shoulder Treated in Lafayette, LA
The bones, ligaments, and tendons of the shoulder joint are encased in a flexible capsule of connective tissue, which is filled with lubricating (synovial) fluid. Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, occurs when this capsule thickens, tightens around the joint, and loses its ability to stretch with movement. As the joint capsule contracts, the upper arm bone (humerus) has less space to move, and the joint may lose some of its synovial fluid. In response to the resulting friction, bands of scar tissue (adhesions) may form between the joint capsule and the head of the humerus. All of this can lead to pain, stiffness, and restricted range of motion in the shoulder.
The causes of frozen shoulder are not fully understood. Many experts believe the risk of developing this condition increases if the shoulder is immobilized for an extended period of time, which may be necessary to promote recovery from surgery, an arm fracture, or a rotator cuff tear.
The Three Stages of Frozen Shoulder
The signs and symptoms of frozen shoulder often develop gradually, worsen over time, and then resolve within one to three years. Typically, the condition progresses through three stages, each of which can last for several months or longer:
- The freezing stage – Movement is painful and range of motion is limited. The pain may worsen at night and disrupt sleep.
- The frozen stage – As the pain lessens, joint stiffness sets in.
- The thawing stage – Flexibility and range of motion begin to improve.
How Is Frozen Shoulder Treated?
The goals of frozen shoulder treatment are to manage the pain and enhance joint mobility. Some options include:
- Stretches and range-of-motion exercises
- Pain-relieving medications
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Corticosteroid injections
In severe cases, arthroscopic surgery may be considered to remove scar tissue and adhesions from inside the shoulder joint, which can help loosen the joint capsule and allow it to move more freely.
Consult a Shoulder Specialist
If you’re experiencing frozen shoulder symptoms, don’t wait to seek medical attention. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can provide the relief you need, and also help you avoid complications. As a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and active athlete, Peter D. Vizzi, MD, can help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Vizzi at his office in Lafayette, Louisiana.