The pain and stiffness symptoms of frozen shoulder can be very bothersome, even these can affect you daily routines and cause a significant decrease in productivity at workplace. The good news, the problem can be treated and many sufferers can regain their normal shoulder range of motion. But does it go away without treatment?
Adhesive capsulitis, an alternative medical term to call frozen shoulder, occurs when capsule of connective tissue or ligaments around the shoulder tighten, swell, thicken, and stiffen.
These abnormalities lead to the limited shoulder range of motion, making your daily activities go hardly. Both pain and stiffness can make you difficult in performing simply tasks such as bathing, dressing, or driving.
As the disease progresses, the pain can come and go. Then eventually the stiffness increases to the point where range of motion can decrease significantly or even you may lose the function of your joint (you cannot move the shoulder at all).
Studies found that diabetics may be at the greatest risk to have adhesive capsulitis. People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop the problem.
However, it’s not fully understood yet why adhesive capsulitis occurs. Even sometimes it’s not possible to point out the cause.
Diabetes is not the only one of risk factor. The following conditions can increase your risk, too:
- Suffering from stroke.
- A recent surgery or injury, especially one that affects the shoulder.
- Heart disease.
- Lung disease.
- Thyroid conditions, such as both over active and under active thyroid.
- Having other shoulder conditions, such as rotator cuff tear and calcific tendonitis.
- And other conditions that cause shoulder immobility.
It’s thought that frozen shoulder may also link to certain activities, particularly such as activity that make you optimally push the rotation of the arm (like when you throw a ball overarm or freestyle swimming). However this issue is not clear yet, still debatable.
It seems that adhesive capsulitis is a catch-all term. In other words, the triggers of the problem can vary.
Early diagnosis is so essential so thus you can take appropriate medications immediately. If you find pain in your shoulder that lasts longer than usual, it’s better to make an appointment with your doctor!
The frozen shoulder symptoms can resemble other shoulder conditions. For instance, sometimes it’s not easy to distinguish between adhesive capsulitis and shoulder arthritis.
But there are some procedures and tests to rule out other conditions, these include:
The major goal in this test is to evaluate your shoulder range of movement. Typically, you will be asked to move your shoulder and arm as far as you could in each direction.
To analyze the pain, doctor will apply pressure to certain points of your shoulder so thus she /he can evaluate the most severe point of pain in your shoulder. Your doctor may also look for other symptoms such as muscle wasting, swelling, or bruising.
These may include the use of X-rays, CT-scan test, or ultrasound scan. All of these tests can provide a detailed picture of your shoulder joint so thus your doctor can evaluate whether there is any inflammation or other problems in the capsule of connective tissue surrounding the shoulder.
Further tests may also be required. For example, if your doctor suspects and believes that you have diabetes (the most significant risk factor of frozen shoulder, as noted before), you may also be asked to take a blood test.
The period of time for the disease to progress and heal can take many months or even years. How long it heals can vary from person to person.
The same goes for the outcome. While some can regain the normal function of their shoulder, others still have little difficulties in using their shoulder. But overall, eventually there should be many more tasks and daily routines you can do with your shoulder!
Some effective treatments are available. The earlier you take the appropriate treatment, the better prognosis you have. In other words, your frozen shoulder is relatively easier to treat and faster to heal if you take the appropriate treatment early.
But will the problem improve naturally even without taking any treatment?
In some cases, frozen shoulder may heal naturally and go away on its own – even without treatment. But if you left it untreated, it tends to heal slower (see more in this post).