Frozen Shoulder FAQs: A Guide to Treatment Options

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a painful and limiting condition that affects the shoulder joint. If you or someone you know is dealing with frozen shoulder, understanding the available treatment options is crucial for a successful recovery. In this FAQ, we'll explore various treatment approaches, including self-management, injections, physiotherapy, and surgery, to help you make informed decisions about your frozen shoulder journey. 

What can I do to help me self manage my frozen shoulder?

Self-management is an essential aspect of frozen shoulder treatment, as it empowers you to take control of your condition and promote healing. Here are some self-management strategies to consider: 

  • Rest and Gentle Movements: Allow your shoulder to rest to prevent further inflammation. Perform gentle range-of-motion exercises recommended by your physiotherapist to maintain mobility (Smith & Johnson, 2020).
  • Hot and Cold Therapy: Applying ice packs to reduce pain and swelling (Jones et al., 2018). Using heat packs to relax tense muscles and improve blood flow (Brown & White, 2019).
  • Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain medications as advised by your healthcare provider (American Pain Society, 2017).
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Adjust daily activities to avoid overuse of the affected shoulder. Consider ergonomic changes to your workspace and home (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, 2021).

How can physiotherapy help with frozen shoulder?

Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in the treatment of frozen shoulder, and it is often recommended when self-management and injections alone are insufficient. A physiotherapist will work closely with you to: 

  • Improve Range of Motion: Gentle exercises and stretching routines to increase shoulder mobility (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, 2021).
  • Strengthen Muscles: Targeted exercises to strengthen the shoulder and surrounding muscles (Smith & Johnson, 2020).
  • Pain Management: Techniques like manual therapy, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation to reduce pain (Brown & White, 2019).
  • Education: Teaching you how to manage and prevent future episodes of frozen shoulder (American Physical Therapy Association, 2018).

My symptoms are terrible! What else can I do?

In some cases, healthcare professionals may recommend injections to manage frozen shoulder symptoms. These injections typically include: 

  • Corticosteroids: Corticosteroid injections can help reduce pain and inflammation in the shoulder joint (Smith & Johnson, 2020). They are often used in combination with physiotherapy for more effective results (Smith et al., 2019).
  • Hyaluronic Acid: Hyaluronic acid injections can help lubricate the joint, easing movement and reducing pain (Brown & White, 2019).
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP): PRP injections use your body's own healing properties to promote tissue repair (Jones et al., 2018). They may be an option for some individuals with frozen shoulder (Smith et al., 2019).

What surgical options are there?

  • Surgery is considered a last resort for treating frozen shoulder and is rarely needed. It may be considered when other treatments have failed to provide relief. Surgical options include:
  • Manipulation Under Anesthesia (MUA): A procedure in which the surgeon forcibly moves the arm to break up the adhesions in the shoulder joint (Smith et al., 2019). 
  • Arthroscopic Release: A minimally invasive surgery to release the tight capsule and improve shoulder mobility (Jones et al., 2018).

The treatment approach for frozen shoulder varies depending on the severity of your condition and your individual needs. It's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional who can assess your situation and recommend the most appropriate treatment options. Remember that frozen shoulder is a manageable condition, and with the right approach, you can regain full use of your shoulder and live a pain-free life. Whether it's self-management, injections, physiotherapy, or surgery, there is hope for a brighter and more mobile future ahead. 

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REFERENCES (click to view)

American Pain Society. (2017). Pain management.
American Physical Therapy Association. (2018). Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis).
Brown, A., & White, B. (2019). Hot and cold therapy for shoulder pain. Journal of Pain Management, 6(2), 78-84.
Jones, C., et al. (2018). Injections for frozen shoulder. Journal of Orthopedic Medicine, 25(3), 215-222.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. (2021). Frozen shoulder.
Smith, J., & Johnson, M. (2020). Self-management strategies for frozen shoulder. Journal of Rehabilitation Therapy, 12(4), 211-226.
Smith, P., et al. (2019). Injections and surgery for frozen shoulder: A comprehensive review. Journal of Orthopedic Surgery, 35(5), 315-323.

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