The symptoms of frozen shoulder can vary, from mild to really intense. Know them, and recognize them on time before unwanted complications occur.

Several authors have suggested that the etiology of frozen shoulder is autoimmune. However, serological tests do not confirm this theory. What do we know about it really? We detail it.

Symptoms of frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis, is the progressive loss of passive shoulder mobility. This loss of mobility is accompanied by diffuse pain that predominates in the anterolateral area of ​​the shoulder.

Several authors have described possible causes and pathological changes that occur in the glenohumeral joint capsule and surrounding tissues. Its course is insidious, progressive and, in most cases, self-limiting.

This lesion occurs most often in people who are between 40 and 70 years old. In addition, it is more common in women and patients who have alterations in the thyroid glands or diabetes.

On the other hand, and as we will see later, the objective of the treatment is to recover the mobility of the joint as well as its functionality. It will also focus on reducing the symptoms of frozen shoulder and pain by administering drugs or, ultimately, surgery.

Shoulder anatomy

The shoulder is a joint formed by the union of the ends of the clavicle, scapula and humerus.

The shoulder is the part of the body where the arm joins with the rest of the body. It is the joint with greater amplitude of movements of the human body. It is a joint formed by the union of the ends of 3 bones:

  • Clavicle.
  • Scapula.
  • Humerus.

These three bones are joined by muscles, ligaments and tendons, which allow their mobility. The main shoulder joint is the one that joins the head of the humerus with the scapula.

This joint is the scapulohumeral joint. It has two articular surfaces; one of them corresponds to the head of the humerus, which has a hemispherical shape, and the other is the glenoid cavity of the scapula. Both surfaces are coated by cartilage, which allows a fluid and painless movement.

The set of muscles and tendons that attach to the surfaces of the bones make it possible, as we have seen, the mobility of the joint. For example, the rotator cuff, formed by four muscles that provide mobility and stability to the shoulder.

Causes

Several authors have suggested that the etiology of this lesion is autoimmune. However, serological tests do not confirm this theory. Others suggest that it is a variant of a reflex sympathetic dystrophy. This theory has also not been fully accepted, since being a dystrophy, adhesive capsulitis does not improve.

De Palma, another specialist, says that the main cause of the appearance of this lesion is muscle inactivity. Causes of lack of scapulohumeral mobility include:

  • Bicipital tenosynovitis.
  • Limestone tendonitis.
  • Bruises.
  • Fractures.
  • Capsular scars secondary to injuries or surgical procedures.

Frozen shoulder treatment

Frozen shoulder affects joint mobility. For this reason, the treatment will be aimed at generating the maximum range of motion.

As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, the goal of treatment is to restore both mobility and functionality of the shoulder.

In addition, patients will get a a series of medications such as anti-inflammatories or steroids in order to calm the pain by the injury. In the most severe cases, the patient may undergo arthroscopy.

Therefore, since this pathology has two very marked phases, one in which pain predominates and the other stiffness, the physiotherapy treatment is different.

During the first phase of pain, it is very vivid and appears even when the patient is at rest. Therefore, the treatment aims at controlling this pain and getting the patient to generate the maximum range of movement in the shoulder joint.

As the patient improves in this regard, the treatment will focus on the goal of increasing the joint range. In addition, they also begin to perform a series of exercises that include the rotator cuff, since it is in connection with the joint capsule.

Last but not least, it is to explain to the patient what other parts of the body can suffer from having the frozen shoulder, since, as they feel pain and there is less mobility, it is normal to try to compensate with other muscles .

In this way, pain can occur in the cervical or lumbar, due to the stress that the tissues of these areas receive due to incorrect movements.

Conclusion

Frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis is an injury that occurs, as the name implies, in the shoulder joint. When it occurs, this joint loses mobility and functionality in a considerable way, as well as the production of pain that can become very annoying.

Consult with a professional about the most recommended treatments for your situation, as well as any questions you have about this tedious injury.

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