Frozen Shoulder Syndrome 101

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Medically known as adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder syndrome is a painful condition in which the tissue and ligaments surrounding the shoulder becomes severely inflamed. It’s been dubbed “frozen shoulder” due to the restricted movement and mobility it creates. Individuals suffering from this condition may not be able to use their arm until the swelling has subsided. To learn more about frozen shoulder, along with causes, symptoms and treatment options, keep reading.

For a better understanding of frozen shoulder syndrome, you must first look at how the shoulder operates. It consists of a ball and joint socket known as a spheroidal joint. The ball runs smoothly in the soft, tissue-lined socket. When we lift our arm, the spheroidal joint goes to work. Unfortunately, joint may swell to the point where it’s no longer able to function properly; thus, leaving the individual with pain and limited movement in her or her arm. Frozen shoulder syndrome typically affects just one shoulder, but there have been cases reported where someone experienced it in both shoulders.

The exact cause of frozen shoulder syndrome remains unclear; however, doctors have identified some risk factors that contribute to the condition. Diabetes, gender (women are nearly 2x as likely to develop frozen shoulder), cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, and age (adults 40+ are placed at high risk) and all known risk factors of frozen shoulder syndrome.

Some medical professionals believe that frozen shoulder syndrome is causes from injury or physical trauma. It’s not uncommon for individuals to seek treatment for this condition after getting into a car accident or suffer from a sports injuries. Doctors also believe that frozen shoulder syndrome is linked directly to the body’s autoimmune system. In some cases, the body may wrongfully identify the joint sac as a foreign invader, at which point it attacks it with fluid.

There are three known stages of frozen shoulder syndrome. The first stage lasts from 1-9 months and is characterized by the onset of pain which becomes progressively worse. The second stage lasts from 4-9 months and is characterized by subsiding pain combined with increased stiffness. The third and final stage lasts anywhere from 5-26 months, consisting of the general recovery of both the pain and stiffness.

The good news is that most people who suffer from frozen shoulder syndrome regain 90% or more of their mobility in time. It’s a slow, methodical path to recovery, but there’s hope on the horizon for those currently living with this condition.

So, what’s the best form of treatment for frozen shoulder syndrome? Taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) may offer some relief, but you should schedule an appointment with your chiropractor to see how they can help. Several studies have found chiropractic treatment involving cervical and thoracic spine manipulative procedures to offer relief of frozen shoulder syndrome.

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