Frozen Shoulder Or Adhesive Capsulitis

“Frozen Shoulder” term is a big misnomer.

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There is nothing frozen inside or outside the shoulder. In fact it may just be the opposite. The tissues may be inflamed to some extent for some time period.

Codman coined the term “frozen shoulder” in 1934. However, now it is loosely applied to any misunderstood painful condition of the shoulder. Scientifically speaking, frozen shoulder, also known, as adhesive capsulitis is a global restriction of movements of the shoulder, which is diagnosed clinically and with a plain X Ray without the aid of any complex investigation like MRI or CT scan.

The most important role in diagnosing this condition is that of the clinician, since this can only be diagnosed clinically.

The big question is, however, how to best treat it? Surgery? Rest? Exercise? Physiotherapy?

There are equal numbers of patients disappointed by each of the above treatment modalities.

The best way forward is very clear in my mind, after having treated several of frozen shoulders. Exercises done at home with a corticosteroid injection in the shoulder is the best way to treat it. The key point is to never opt for surgery and to remember that the patient has to work hard at the exercises by himself at home without relying on physiotherapy.

Injection of a corticosteroid is one of the key steps in the management of this condition, since the pain in shoulder does not let the patient do a whole lot of exercises. An injection in the shoulder eases the pain and in some cases the pain disappears entirely within 3-4 weeks. The site of injection, however, varies as per the preferences of the treating physician. The latest advancement in the field of pain management is to inject corticosteroid in the area of the Suprascapular Nerve, which eases the pain considerably. This is followed by a set of stretching exercises done at home regularly, which slowly increases the range of motion of the patient’s shoulder.

The onlything to remember here is that these are stretching exercises and NOT theraband or strengthening exercises.

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