Treatment for a Frozen Shoulder

A frozen shoulder occurs when your shoulder experiences pain and stiffness. Not just for moments or a few days, but for months and sometimes years at a time.

It is characterised by persistent pain and stiffness in the shoulder that may be at its worst when you’re trying to sleep at night. The pain can be sufficiently severe as to make movement in the affected limbs difficult.

It can be difficult to determine why people develop a frozen shoulder. It can happen after an injury to or surgery on the affected area that keeps the arm from functioning normally. It may also come about if you have diabetes, although the link between the two remains unclear. This is why regular check-ups are so important, to identify any problems early on.

Treatment for frozen shoulder typically involves three main stages. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may receive all three treatments or a combination of them.

The first stage focuses on pain relief. During this phase, you will need to avoid any movements that cause you pain or discomfort. Gentle movements of the shoulder are encouraged. You may be advised to use paracetamol or ibuprofen to bring the pain level down.

The second stage involves stronger pain relief. This will usually last only for a short while as the treatments involved can bring about side effects. You may be prescribed some stronger painkillers or you may have injections of steroids into the affected area to reduce the swelling.

The third and final stage concerns regaining movement in the shoulder. This will usually be done by way of physiotherapy, although there are exercises you can carry out at home too. How your shoulder responds to initial treatment will determine how many physiotherapy sessions will be required.

Physiotherapy will involve stretching exercises and strength exercises, as well as advice on pain relief and proper posture. You can have more sessions if your pain still hasn’t cleared by the time, you complete your initial course. Depending on where you live, you can request to see a physiotherapist without having to go through your GP first.

Recovery from a frozen shoulder is not an overnight task. It usually takes around one and a half to three years before the condition clears completely. In some cases, it can be even longer. The pain will go eventually, however, so you should keep up with any exercises recommended by your GP or physiotherapist in the meantime.

If you would prefer to treat the condition yourself, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, carry out all exercises recommended by your GP or physiotherapist for the length of time they advise. Don’t forget to move your shoulder gently but consistently, since keeping it still will only exacerbate the pain. Consider applying heat packs to your shoulder. Sometimes they can bring additional pain relief. Under no circumstances must you attempt any strenuous exercise such as lifting gym equipment. You will only make the pain worse and potentially reverse any progress you have made.


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