Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) is a condition characterized by loss of motion through the shoulder joint. Most common in people between the ages of 40 and 65, frozen shoulder is also more common in women than in men. An individual experiencing frozen shoulder will find difficulty in raising the arm above the head and across the body. Without proper treatment, symptoms will increase over time.
Frozen shoulder may have a number of causes, including overuse, enforced immobility, or damage due to a single traumatic event. Others who may experience frozen shoulder are those who suffer from diabetes (10 to 20% of diabetics experience frozen shoulder), Parkinson’s disease, hyperthyroidism, and cardiovascular disease.
This type of injury is diagnosed through a medical examination including an evaluation of medical history and testing to determine level of pain and range of motion. If necessary, a doctor may suggest an X-Ray to rule out further, more extensive damage to the shoulder joint. Suggested treatment may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroid injections, muscle relaxants, ice/heat, or manual therapy. Surgery is only recommended as a last resort for frozen shoulder. Surgical methods including arthroscopic repair and manipulation under anesthesia are most common. Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that requires a small incision into the joint into which an arthroscope (a small, lighted, fiber optic tool used for viewing the interior of a joint) is inserted to cut through adhesions (abnormal bands of tissue that grow between the joint surfaces, restricting motion). Manipulation is a procedure not requiring that incisions be made. During this procedure, the doctor will move the arm to break up adhesions.
Massage Therapy may be recommended as the primary method of treatment for frozen shoulder. An RMT will employ such methods as manual therapy, ice/heat, therapeutic exercise, and stretching. Exercise therapy is also imperative following surgical repair in order to prevent future injury.