Frozen Shoulder Physical Therapy

Posted by on Dec 3, 2014 in Tips | 0 comments

Frozen Shoulder Physical Therapy

About 2 to 5 % of the population will experience the symptoms of a “frozen shoulder”. Adhesive capsulitis is the technical term, and while it’s exact causes are up for debate, we do know that it is related to scar tissue and results in a stiff shoulder that’s difficult to move. Women seem to be particularly at risk for the condition and it’s usually associated with shoulder surgeries, other conditions like arthritis, and the immobilization of your arm for long periods of time.

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The condition is marked by a loss of range of movement and pain that worsens over time. Usually physical therapists will break down the condition into four stages: “Pre-Freezing”, “Freezing”, “Frozen”, and “Thawing”. The first stage will usually last 1 to three months and is identified by sharp pains when you move your shoulder. The shoulder is considered “frozen” after 9 or 14 months and stiffness has become a loss of flexibility along with intense pain. “Thawing” is the final stage when pain finally begins to decrease and motion is slowly returning.

 

Your physical therapist will be able to determine that stage that you are currently facing as well as helping you to regain movement while also reducing pain. For the first two stages, heat and ice treatments as well as simple exercises focused on movement will help. For the final two stages, strengthening exercises will be the focus to help you return to your normal day-to-day activities. In the event that pain has not reduced, your physical therapist might refer you to a pain specialist for anti-inflammatory injections.

 

Unfortunately, frozen shoulder is not preventable, and currently the best way to handle the condition is through physical therapy as the condition “runs its course”. If you have had a recent problem with your shoulder and are experiencing the sharp pains and limitations associated with “pre-freezing” and “freezing”, schedule an appointment with a physical therapist as soon as possible to start working on the exercises that will help your shoulder to “thaw out” with as little pain and interference as possible.

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