One day you wake up and your shoulder is sore? Slowly over time it starts to stiffen and the pain gets worse. A few months down the road, now you can’t lift your arm? This is more commonly known as Frozen Shoulder, but the medical term is Adhesive Capsulitis. For some there is a prior injury, for others there seems to be no specific contributing factor. There are some populations that are more susceptible to this condition: Female ages 40-60, thyroid disease, trauma, auto immune disease, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and prolonged immobilization such as after shoulder surgery. Early diagnosis is crucial to a positive outcome.
There a 4 stages to the disease process:
Stage 1: Last 3-4 months and the shoulder is painful and losing motion. There is inflammation of the capsule, lining of the shoulder.
Stage 2: From months 3-9. This is the typical “Freezing Stage.” The pain continues and the shoulder stiffens more as the lining thickens and shrinks from the inflammation. Toward the end of this stage the pain starts to lessen.
Stage 3: The “Frozen Stage” from months 9-14: Severe stiffness, but much less pain at rest. There will be pain with stretching of the capsule because there is scarring and thickening that has limited the ability of the shoulder joint to move freely.
Stage 4: “Thawing Stage” 15-24 months after the initial onset of symptoms. The pain is less and the shoulder motion gradually improves.
If you find yourself having these type of symptoms see your physician for a consultation. Early Physical Therapy intervention can help reduce severity of the condition and help restore range of motion and reduce inflammation. Often an orthopedic consult is also necessary to determine type of treatment necessary.
This blog was written by Kathryn Campbell, physical therapist at Milford Regional Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine in Northbridge. For more information, or to book an appointment at the Northbridge clinic, call (508) 234-8792. If you would prefer to contact a therapist at our Milford location, call (508) 422-2388 or at our Franklin location, call (508) 528-2748.