How do you know if you have a frozen shoulder?
“The pain in my shoulder seemed to come out of nowhere – and it’s gradually been getting worse.”
“I can’t seem to lift my right arm enough to blow-dry my hair!”
“I have a dull ache in my left shoulder and down my upper arm.”
If any of these statements sound familiar, you might have a musculoskeletal condition known as frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis.
The tissue surrounding your shoulder joint that holds everything together is called the shoulder capsule. With a frozen shoulder, the capsule becomes inflamed, thickens and tightens so that the shoulder bones aren’t able to move freely in the joint.
Frozen shoulder is a bit of a mystery in that the causes are uncertain, but certain risk factors – age, gender, recovery from stroke or surgery, diabetes, shoulder trauma, Parkinson’s disease, cardiac disease, hyperthyroidism and smoking – increase the chances of developing the condition.
Although it’s best to consult a health-care professional to confirm a diagnosis, here are the three stages of frozen shoulder:
This is the first sign of trouble, characterized by pain in the shoulder or the upper arm. Pain generally worsens, causing a gradual loss of range of motion or “freezing” of the shoulder. This stage typically lasts six weeks to nine months.
This is a 4-6 month stage where stiffness increases and arm movements are severely restricted. Rotation of the shoulder joint is particularly difficult, making daily activities such as washing hair, getting dressed or reaching for a seat belt, difficult. Pain gradually decreases in this stage.
This stage is the longest, as the thawing process can take up to two years. In this phase, the capsule of the shoulder joint is thick and tight, but over time it gradually loosens. You can start to see a gradual increase in mobility and a decrease in pain symptoms.
Whatever stage your frozen shoulder is in, Naturopathic Doctors can help. Dr. Michael Mason-Wood, ND and the team at Natural Terrain Naturopathic Clinic focus on effectively alleviating joint pain through purely natural means.