If your shoulder has been gradually getting more painful and much stiffer over a few weeks or months. There could be a good chance that you may have developed a frozen shoulder.
Frozen shoulder is up to four times more common in females than males, with research suggesting that most individuals that suffer from Frozen Shoulder are between the ages of 40-60. Current research also suggests that the non-dominant shoulder will often be the affected side.
The symptoms of frozen shoulder will differ from other shoulder injuries such as rotator cuff tears, shoulder dislocation or shoulder impingement, so we have listed a few of the most common symptoms we see in our clinic at Namix Performance.
One of the main symptoms that a frozen shoulder will present with is stiffness in the shoulder. It will follow a capsular pattern (whereby specific movements will become stiff, but not others). It may begin with not being able to wash your hair correctly, followed by not reaching overhead. In more advanced cases, the arm will struggle to lift higher than shoulder height and almost look like you have hit an invisible barrier!
Most patients that complain of frozen shoulder will also have a very diffuse area of pain or discomfort. In most cases, the pain is very poorly located and will sometimes even feel like a "tight band" around the top part of the arm.
It is relatively common that lying on the affected shoulder will cause discomfort when you are in bed, or there will be a generic aching around the shoulder that can often make falling asleep a little more troublesome.
A frozen shoulder can be both a primary and a secondary injury.
Primary Frozen Shoulder can be what is known as idiopathic (i.e., there is no real cause for the injury – it just happens).
Secondary Frozen Shoulder is more likely from those that have had a period of immobility or previous injury to other soft tissues of the shoulder, including the rotator cuff.
There are also strong links between the following general health conditions and the increased risk of frozen shoulder:
- Thyroid conditions (Underactive and Overactive)
- Heart Disease
However, it isn't known why the above conditions are linked to frozen shoulder.
There are many different ways to treat frozen shoulder; however, it is always worthwhile knowing that the recovery can take much longer than you think. Current studies suggest it can take anywhere between 18 months to three years to resolve symptoms fully. So taking a long term, proactive approach is best with frozen shoulders.
At Namix, our approach begins with your initial assessment. We go through a "deep dive" into the history of your shoulder your current exercise or training regime and understand the ideal outcome of your treatment.
From there, we then take an objective view of your shoulder, looking at the following:
- Range of movement where we look for restrictions and efficiency of your movement.
- Strength of your shoulder and surrounding muscle groups
- Any issues at the neck, elbow, and wrist that may influence your shoulder symptoms.
Once we have a comprehensive view of your shoulder, we can get to work on treating your shoulder using various research-backed techniques, including:
- Joint mobilisations and stretches
- Soft tissue massage techniques, including soft tissue release.
- Exercise rehabilitation: focussing on strengthening the shoulder muscles alongside improving the flexibility of the shoulder joint. We can also work on other weak and stiff areas such as the neck, elbow and wrist to ensure a full recovery.
In some cases, patients with frozen shoulder may need an onwards referral to a consultant shoulder surgeon, who can provide further treatment such as injection therapy and hydrodilation in order to free up the restrictions of the shoulder girdle. Our therapists at Namix Performance work alongside local consultants to get the best treatment outcomes for our patients.