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Frozen Shoulder - How To Avoid And Treat It
Frozen Shoulder - How To Avoid And Treat It

A frozen shoulder can sideline you , sometimes for over one year. This can affect any adult causing a really stiff and very painful shoulder, often without any memorable injury. So what is a frozen shoulder, how can we avoid it? And how do we treat it? Keep reading and I’ll give you my two best tips.

The medical term for frozen shoulder is adhesive capsulitis. It’s just a fancy way of saying that your shoulder is stiff and the ligaments around the shoulder (aka the capsule) are scarred and thickened. People with frozen shoulder struggle to reach up, out, or behind their back. It can be downright painful to stretch the shoulder when frozen shoulder has set in.

Nobody knows the exact cause of frozen shoulder. Certain medical conditions like diabetes and thyroid disorders can make you more prone to the issue. however, the most common cause for frozen shoulder is lack of movement for any reason. If you sprain your shoulder or if you have a chronic tendinitis, the natural response is to protect the shoulder and avoid the things that cause pain. While that may seem like the right thing to do, it actually allows the problem to happen. You may think “it hurts to raise my arm to head height, so I’ll just raise it to shoulder height”. But if you do, the shoulder capsule will tighten down and soon, you will find that it hurts even to go to shoulder height. As you give ground, your pain free comfort zone keeps shrinking.

So the first tip is this. If you have a sore shoulder, make sure that even while you rest it, you take it through a full range of motion every day at least once. The shoulder ligaments need constant stretching to remain balanced and supple. By reaching up like this, out like this, and up behind your back, you will not give any opportunity to the ligaments to tighten up. We can fix almost anything with the shoulder. However, stiffness makes everything harder to recover from so do yourself a favor and stay flexible.

Let’s say that you are already in the freezing or frozen stages of frozen shoulder. Here’s a second tip. Like I mentioned before, it can take well over a year for the shoulder to thaw out on its own. But, you can speed up your recovery with a consistent stretching program. We often send our patients to physical therapy and encourage them to work diligently on their stretches.

In many cases, I will also offer my patients a hydrodilation procedure. This is an injection of fluid, cortisone, and an air bubble. We give this injection into the joint under ultrasound guidance. This is followed immediately by a stretching program.

The additional fluid and air bubble act like an air spring to push into all the stiffened crevices of the shoulder and to magnify the stretch. combined with a formal stretchign program, Most people find that they start to make progress within 4-6 weeks of a hydrodilation. It can still take several months to recover, but the procedure can speed up the process significantly.

To schedule a consultation, please call or contact Dr. Sohn's office, proudly serving the communities of San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Woods, Laguna Niguel, Dana Point, Mission Viejo, Irvine, San Clemente, and Fountain Valley.