Frozen shoulder is a difficult condition

A frozen shoulder or literally translated frozen shoulder is a condition in which the shoulder and arm have limited movement. Although there are a number of possibilities, it is not always clear how a frozen shoulder developed. The most common occurrence seems to be the result of a bursitis and other possibilities are, for example, the consequences of an inflamed joint capsule or persistent irritation of the tendons in the shoulder.

The cause of a frozen shoulder is not exercising for a long time or insufficiently

In all these cases, frozen shoulder is ultimately caused by insufficient or no movement of the shoulder and arm for a long time. In addition to inflammation and irritation, long-term restriction of movement can also occur after, for example, bone fractures, an accident, an operation or overhead work or sports. In a number of cases, however, no clear cause can be identified at all.

Frozen shoulder is a difficult and sometimes long-lasting condition with a lot of pain

A shoulder is a joint with extraordinary freedom of movement that is stabilized by an ingenious muscular system and capsular ligament apparatus. That is why a frozen shoulder can be accompanied by pain that is sometimes very severe. It is precisely those pains that cause the shoulder and arm to be moved too little. If the pain eventually reduces or disappears, stiffness often remains. In practice, it appears that shoulder function often recovers automatically, which can also cause pain and stiffness to disappear. However, it can take a long time, sometimes years, before a frozen shoulder disappears completely.

Referral to physiotherapist or manual therapist

The diagnosis of a frozen shoulder is usually made by a general practitioner based on the patient’s story and the symptoms. Sometimes the doctor will have an ultrasound examination done or an X-ray or MRI scan made. In many cases, painkillers are prescribed and in certain cases an injection of adrenal cortex hormones (corticosteroids) is given into the shoulder joint. In some cases, the shoulder joint is released under anesthesia. Referral to a physiotherapist or manual therapist is also common.

Experiences of a therapist

An experienced therapist knows that almost all patients who adhere to the treatment schedule end the treatment virtually free of complaints and with almost full range of motion again. This includes completing the exercise program at least twice a day and certainly not dropping out prematurely. Experience also shows that after a patient’s brain has alerted that something is wrong, it responds in three different ways.

  1. A number of patients continue to use the arm with slightly less strain than before and therefore grow out of the pain.
  2. Other patients think that no pain should be felt and protect the arm by resting a lot and moving little.
  3. Still other patients avoid any movement that hurts, allowing the inflammation process to continue and the freezing of the shoulder to increase.


Follow advice from doctor and therapist

The treatment by a therapist is certainly not the same for all patients and unfortunately a number of patients continue to have long-term complaints in which their night’s sleep can be regularly disturbed by pain. Some patients accept the situation and opt for less pain and loss of function, which makes daily life different. There is also a risk of incorrect loading because the arm is moved more by the neck muscles and shoulder blade muscles instead of by the shoulder muscles. This can lead to new complaints, which can be prevented by following advice.

read more

  • Therapy for bursitis in the shoulder
  • Bursitis as a cause of shoulder pain
  • Tendonitis as a cause of shoulder pain
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