What are the Best Treatment Options for a Frozen Shoulder?
If you want to know what the best treatment options for a frozen shoulder are, you’ve found the right blog. Having a frozen shoulder is a painful condition. This issue can appear in men and women over the age of 45. It will result in a lack of mobility in the shoulder joint. This involves the connective tissue around the shoulder becoming damaged, thickened, or inflamed. It’s a painful hindrance that a person will want to rid themselves of immediately. There are ways to fix this issue quickly. Many of these will come thanks to treatments prescribed by a physical therapist.
How Does a Frozen Shoulder Appear?
When the shoulder freezes, it will cause painful stiffening that will lead to a loss of motion or painful movement. Inflammation will be the cause of this in the lining of the joint. It can also be caused by autoimmune reactions, when the body attacks its own substances and tissues.
There are also more easily explainable reasons for why a person will suffer from a frozen shoulder. One involves a reaction following a sustained injury or a post-surgery condition. This will also happen in older people who suffer from arthritis or tendonitis. Lastly, frozen shoulders can happen when the person has been unable to move their shoulder for an extended time. It occurs when a person’s arm has been in a sling following an injury for several weeks.
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How Does the Frozen Shoulder Feel?
People with frozen shoulders will have worsening pain and movement over time. They’ll go through four stages of pain and recovery on their own. A physical therapist will provide a more detailed explanation of what happens when a shoulder freezes.
The first stage is the Pre-Freezing phase. Here, the person will first notice their shoulder pain, though not enough that it can be diagnosed. But this pain will noticeably worsen over time. Pain will be felt when the person moves their arm. In time, this pain will start appearing even when the person isn’t moving the arm for any purpose. The pain itself will be similar during both day and night.
The second stage is the actual Freezing process. Here, the pain will increase after at least three months. The person’s shoulder movement will decrease during this time. This person suffering the pain will also make sure to use the shoulder less and less. The pain will be especially pronounced during the nighttime hours.
Third is the Frozen stage, when the pain has been consistent for nearly a year. During this process, movement of the shoulder is greatly increased. The person with the pain has decreased usage of their shoulder thanks to the pain it causes them. But the pain will start to decrease during the stage’s end. It will be possible to move the shoulder again, though using it will still exert pain.
The final stage is the Thawing process. The person has had their frozen shoulder issues for over a year by this point. Here, there’s a significant decrease in pain, especially during nighttime hours. Movement will still be limited, but the ability to complete daytime activities will be improved.
This is a lengthy set of stages. The person suffering the pain should see a physical therapist to speed up the recovery process. The therapist will also be needed in more severe cases. There are people who can’t afford to have their shoulders hurting for such a long time, after all.
Diagnosis of a Frozen Shoulder from a Physical Therapist
The physical therapist’s goal will involve making sure the person heals faster. They’ll help a person resume their daily activities to prevent further disruptions. The physical therapist will often see the patient during the “Freezing” or “Frozen” stages. These are the second and third phases outlined in the above column. The person can visit the therapist to explain the issues they’re having. They can also appear when a person is seeing the therapist for a separate shoulder issue.
The physical therapist will look for a specific pattern in shoulder movement to diagnose the issue. They’ll also look over the patient’s previous health and diagnosis history to pinpoint other issues. This will help them determine precisely where the pain is coming from. There are certain movement patterns consistent with frozen shoulders that they’ll look for.
There are other ways for the physical therapist to detect a frozen shoulder. These involve technology usage, including X-rays, MRIs, and ultrasound. Their use will help the therapist more easily pinpoint where the person’s pain is coming from. They’ll also help them rule out other possible conditions.
A proper diagnosis from the physical therapist will come first. They’ll then devise a plan to help the patient speed up their recovery process.
The Physical Therapist’s Recovery Process
Exercises are the most detailed way for the shoulder to heal. The physical therapist will assign the patient exercises to perform over time. They can perform them in the vicinity of their office, depending on the location. Otherwise, exercises will be prescribed for performance at the patient’s home or a gym.
There are a wide variety of exercises to help the recovery process along. These include the pendulum stretch, which involves a person moving their arm in circular motions. Another is the towel stretch, when a person stretches a towel behind their back. The cross-body reach involves moving the arm and putting gentle pressure on the shoulder. There’s also an armpit stretch, where a person bends their knee to open their armpits. These exercises are more effective after a warm-up process.
Letting the frozen shoulder heal on its own can take around 12 to 15 months. This will be too long for many people, especially for those who need to use the shoulder. Seeing a physical therapist is essential for a speedy recovery process. These trained professionals know how to help a person heal quickly and efficiently.
Issues with Severe Frozen Shoulders
There are cases when the frozen shoulder injury will be severe enough that exercises won’t help. The issue will first be diagnosed. Then, the physical therapist will provide a more detailed plan for the healing process.
Slightly more severe cases will increase the need for inflammatory medication usage. These include prescribing aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen to help the healing process. Applying an ice pack to the shoulder for 10 to 15 minutes each day will also help.
Considerably more severe cases will involve more invasive methods for healing. Steroid injections will be among these, to help the shoulder move easier. General anesthetics could also be required, which will have to be done while the patient is unconscious. The most severe cases will involve surgeries. The need for surgery is uncommon for frozen shoulders. But that will be necessary if the pain is too unbearable.
What are the Best Treatment Options for a Frozen Shoulder?
The frozen shoulder will appear through issues like injuries and post-surgery conditions. The healing factor will involve four processes, which will take up to a year or more. But this process will be faster when a person pays a visit to the physical therapist. The therapist will first diagnose the condition, and devise a plan for healing. This will involve exercises in most cases. More severe frozen shoulder issues will require further invasiveness, including steroids and medication. These are the best treatment options for a frozen shoulder.