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Understanding Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)

Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. It typically develops gradually, worsens over time, and can greatly limit movement. Understanding its causes, symptoms, and available physiotherapy treatments is crucial for managing this condition effectively.

Causes:

The exact cause of frozen shoulder is often unknown, but certain factors may contribute to its development:

Injury or trauma to the shoulder

Prolonged immobilization of the shoulder joint, such as after surgery or injury

Systemic diseases like diabetes or thyroid disorders

Age and gender (more common in women and individuals over 40)

Symptoms:

The hallmark symptom of frozen shoulder is stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint, which worsens over time.

Limited range of motion, making everyday activities like reaching overhead or behind the back challenging.

Pain often worsens at night, disrupting sleep.

Gradual onset of symptoms, with three distinct phases: freezing, frozen, and thawing.

Physiotherapy Treatment: Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in managing frozen shoulder, focusing on reducing pain, improving mobility, and restoring function. Here are some common physiotherapy interventions:

Manual Therapy: Therapists use hands-on techniques like joint mobilizations and soft tissue massage to improve shoulder mobility and reduce pain.

Stretching and Range of Motion Exercises: Specific exercises targeting the shoulder joint help increase flexibility and restore range of motion gradually.

Strengthening Exercises: Strengthening the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint can help improve stability and support, reducing pain and enhancing function.

Modalities: Therapeutic modalities such as heat, cold therapy, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation may be used to reduce pain and inflammation.

Posture Correction: Addressing posture imbalances and ergonomic factors can help alleviate stress on the shoulder joint and prevent further aggravation.

Patient Education: Educating patients about their condition, proper ergonomics, and home exercises empowers them to actively participate in their recovery and prevent recurrence.

Gradual Progression: Treatment progresses gradually, adjusting intensity and exercises as the patient’s condition improves.

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