Orthopedic surgeon and shoulder specialist Dr. Paul Hovis has extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of frozen shoulder. He sees patients from all over the world at the Arizona Center for Hand Surgery, as their only shoulder specialist, with locations in Phoenix, the Northwest Valley, and Mesa, Arizona. Contact the Arizona Center for Hand Surgery to schedule an in-person or remote consultation today.
Frozen shoulder is characterized by a tight shoulder capsule and the development of stiff bands of tissues called adhesions. In many cases, the joint itself also has less synovial fluid. The tell-tale symptom of frozen shoulder is the inability to move your shoulder, either on your own or with someone else’s help. The condition develops in three stages: freezing, frozen, and thawing.
Freezing is the first stage, which typically lasts anywhere from six weeks to nine months, and is defined by the slow onset of pain. As the pain worsens, your shoulder loses range of motion.
During the frozen second stage, which typically lasts anywhere from 4-6 months, pain may improve, but usually stiffness remains.
In thawing, the final stage, which may last anywhere from six months to two years, shoulder motion returns slowly until you regain normal range of motion and strength.
Roughly 2% of the population is impaired by frozen shoulder at any given time. Medical professionals aren’t exactly sure why frozen shoulder happens to some people, but there are a variety of factors that can increase your risk of developing the condition. They include:
Frozen shoulder affects both genders, but is more common in women than in men.
Frozen shoulder is more prevalent in adults over the age of 40.
Prolonged immobility or reduced mobility of the shoulder joint, as can happen with a broken arm or rotator cuff injury, or following a stroke or surgery, can increase the risk of frozen shoulder.
Those with diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, tuberculosis, and thyroid conditions are also more prone to frozen shoulder.
Any time you have pain and stiffness in your shoulder that lingers, it’s important to see your doctor to get a proper diagnosis. Initial frozen shoulder treatment is designed to reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, and gradually restore motion and function.
Heat, anti-inflammatory medications, and corticosteroid injections may provide relief. Supervised physical therapy that includes gentle, passive stretching exercises can also be beneficial.
If an extended course of rehabilitation doesn’t help, you may consider surgical intervention. At the Arizona Center for Hand Surgery, the preferred surgical treatment for frozen shoulder is arthroscopic capsular release. Arthroscopy allows Dr. Hovis to thoroughly evaluate your shoulder to ensure that he addresses all contributing factors for pain and stiffness.
Because the capsule is most often the structure responsible for the stiffness, arthroscopic surgery enables Dr. Hovis to precisely release only this tissue, minimizing the risk of injury to healthy tissue.
If you suffer from the symptoms of frozen shoulder, contact the Arizona Center for Hand to Shoulder Surgery for an in-person or remote consultation with Dr. Hovis today.