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[Pain Management NYC] All You Need To Know About Frozen Shoulder

Updated: Aug 5, 2023

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Are you or someone you know suffering from a frozen shoulder? Did you know that most people with frozen shoulder can be treated in New York?

In fact, it's rare for frozen shoulder to be permanent. Frozen shoulder is a common cause of shoulder pain, but it could also be the result of any condition, and it can go on for a long time if you don't have treatment immediately.

We've written this blog to help people gain an insight into any information you would need about frozen shoulder and how to treat it with pain management NYC techniques. To start with, it's best first to understand what frozen shoulder really is and what causes it.

What is a frozen shoulder?

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Adhesive capsulitis is commonly referred to as "frozen shoulder." It is a disorder characterized by pain and loss of motion or stiffness in the shoulder. The name "frozen shoulder" refers to the fact that the joint becomes stiff and painful as it heals. It's characterized by limited mobility, especially in the morning.

The shoulder joint is made up of bones, ligaments, and tendons that work together to allow you to move your arm in all directions. The joint is surrounded by a soft tissue called the capsule. When this capsule becomes inflamed, it can't move as easily as normal, causing pain and stiffness.

In addition, when you injure your shoulder or don't use it for a long time (such as after surgery), scar tissue can develop in the joint capsule and make it more difficult for your shoulder to move normally. The cause of frozen shoulder is not fully understood, but the process involves thickening and contracture of the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint.

Frozen shoulder can develop after the shoulder is injured or immobilized for a period of time. It typically occurs in older adults but can affect people of all ages. The condition is common among people who have diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but it can happen to anyone who has had an injury to their shoulder or suffered from chronic joint inflammation.

The pain and stiffness can last for weeks, months, or even years, depending on the severity of the injury, so it's best to get it checked out by a pain specialist right away. The condition also tends to run in families, so if you have a family history of frozen shoulder, you're likely to develop it yourself at some point in life.

What causes a frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder can be painful and slow-healing. The cause of it is thought to be related to the way you use your arm and the position of your shoulder joint over time. The most common cause of a frozen shoulder is poor blood flow to the joint due to an injury, or it can be secondary to another condition such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.

Other causes include:

  • Fatigue or stress on the joint from repetitive use over time

  • An injury that damages the joint capsule, such as falling onto your outstretched hand

  • A fracture in the arm or shoulder (broken collarbone) that affects the joint's ability to move freely

  • After surgery, infection or inflammation of the tissue (bursitis)

  • Poor posture due to poor muscle tone in the back and shoulder muscles

  • Immobility for long periods (for example, after an operation)

What are the symptoms of a frozen shoulder?

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The pain associated with frozen shoulder can range from mild to severe. It usually affects one side of your body but may affect both shoulders at the same time. The main symptom of frozen shoulder is pain and stiffness, which tends to worsen with movement and at night. It gradually worsens over time until movement becomes very difficult, if not impossible, without help from another person.

Consult a pain management specialist as soon as possible when you also experience these other symptoms:

  • Pain in your shoulder joint after not using it for a period of time or after waking in the morning

  • Difficulty moving your arm or hand forward or backward without pain

  • Tightness or stiffness in your shoulder when trying to lift your arm up or down

  • A feeling like something is stuck inside your shoulder

  • A feeling of stiffness in your shoulder that persists even when resting

  • Limited range of motion in your shoulder (such as being unable to lift or rotate your arm)

  • A burning or tingling sensation in your arm or hand

  • Reduced strength compared to the other side of your body because the muscles around your shoulder are weak.

What are the stages of frozen shoulder?

Frozen shoulder is an injury that causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. As time passes, more scar tissue forms in your shoulder joint and restricts movement even further.

There are three stages of frozen shoulder:

Stage 1 – Freezing: The pain and stiffness continue progressing, and losing movement. It usually lasts from six weeks to nine months.

Stage 2 – Frozen: The shoulder continues to be stiff and painful, but movement improves slightly from Stage 1.

Stage 3 – Thawing: The frozen shoulder improves slowly, with increased motion. It can take from 6 months to 2 years to fully recover.

See a pain specialist in NYC immediately as soon as the first stage to prevent the pain from getting worse and losing movement.

How is a frozen shoulder diagnosed?

A pain doctor will ask you about any pain or discomfort in your shoulder and check whether it hurts when you move your arm. They will also ask about your symptoms and family history.

In most cases, pain specialists diagnose frozen shoulder by physical examination alone. However, ultrasound imaging may be used to examine the shoulder joint before surgery if a tear is suspected to be present within the rotator cuff tendon sheath or bursa sacs in the area around the shoulder joint. In addition, X-rays are sometimes taken of your affected shoulder to rule out other causes of pain, such as bone fractures or arthritis. An MRI scan may also be performed if there is any question about nerve damage in the area.

What are the treatments for frozen shoulder?

There are reasons why a frozen shoulder takes so long to heal: it's not just about the shoulder loosening up and getting better—a lot of things need to happen first in order for that to happen.

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Treatments can be very helpful in relieving the inflammation and allowing you to regain range of motion in your shoulder. Medical massage and physical therapy can be an effective treatment for frozen shoulder. Gentle movement is important during therapy treatments—but it's best to rest until all swelling goes down before moving again. These treatment options are offered in our pain management NYC center.

What can you do?

There are a few measures you should take. If possible, take care to avoid injuries and strenuous activity while you wait for your body to heal itself.

Avoiding non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also help by reducing inflammation and pain. Taking NSAIDs might seem like a good way to manage pain and recover from your frozen shoulder. Still, they can actually make things worse by prolonging inflammation and possibly contributing to future episodes.

Although a frozen shoulder can be incredibly frustrating and painful, you can do plenty of things before opting for surgery. Unfortunately, frozen shoulder pain is often underdiagnosed, and many people are unaware they have it until they try to move their arms.

In order for a frozen shoulder to thaw out, the tissues around the joint must thaw first, then the joint itself must become mobile again. But you can get through this tough time and come out on the other side feeling better than before with professional help from a pain management specialist.

Getting an accurate diagnosis and pain treatment plan is the most effective way to deal with frozen shoulder syndrome. To find the best solution for yourself, seek out a trusted pain management NYC center for professional care on what will work best for you and your particular injury or condition.


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