You’re probably accustomed to the random ebb and flow of pain in your shoulder joint if you suffer from a frozen shoulder.
A frozen shoulder can be caused by prolonged immobilization of your arm, an injury, or the healing process of a surgery like a mastectomy.
Essentially, the bones and ligaments that make up the shoulder joint are surrounded by tissue. When this tissue thickens, it restricts the movement of the joint and causes pain. This pain is called a frozen shoulder. Doctors are unsure of the causes, however, one possible determinant is lifestyle factors such as lack of exercise.
Symptoms of a frozen shoulder
The main symptoms of a frozen shoulder are classified into three stages on the basis of associated frozen shoulder pain or discomfort. The three frozen shoulder stages are as follows:
- The Freezing Stage: During this stage, any movement of your shoulder ends up causing pain. The range of motion reduces at this stage even though you may feel as if your arm can move to a certain extent.
- The Frozen Stage: During this stage, the overall pain in your shoulder diminishes and may even go away entirely. However, your shoulder stiffens tremendously to cause discomfort. Moving your shoulders may not be possible when you are in this stage.
- The Thawing Stage: During this stage, the range of motion in your shoulder starts improving and the pain fluctuates.
These three stages can last as long as a few months each. With this condition, there is no telling when each stage will begin, and sometimes the cycle of pain and discomfort can be repetitive.
Treatment for frozen shoulder pain
Treatment for frozen shoulder pain has the sole objective to help improve the range of motion and to help patients manage their pain. There are different types of treatment options available for providing shoulder pain relief. Some of these are as follows:
- Medications: Most doctors don’t shy away from prescribing over-the-counter pain medications for the pain. Most of these are mild so that you do not feel drowsy. You can check with your doctor whether certain tasks like driving, or operating heavy machinery are possible when taking the medications.
- Physiotherapy: Many doctors recommend physio for the frozen shoulder as this form of treatment is highly effective and can prevent the need for conventional treatment involving medications and surgery. A physiotherapist will teach you frozen shoulder treatment exercises as well as exercises to prevent frozen shoulder from recurring. This can help you regain full-range motion back in your shoulder.
- Steroid injections: During the early stages of a frozen shoulder, it can be helpful if doctors inject corticosteroids into your shoulder joint to increase the mobility and decrease the pain.
- Joint Distention: In this treatment, sterile water is injected into the shoulder joints. This helps the tissues at the joints expand and relax a little, increasing your overall mobility.
- Shoulder manipulation: In this treatment, a doctor will manoeuvre your shoulder joint in different ways to ensure that mobility returns. In order to do so, the doctor will first administer general anaesthesia so that you do not feel any pain.
- Surgery: Generally, surgery is a rare treatment option for shoulder pain. This is because previously mentioned treatments provide shoulder pain relief. However, if a surgery is required, the doctor will remove any scar tissue at the shoulder joint to make sure that the movement of the joint is restored. The surgery takes place through small incisions (minimally invasive procedure) made in the shoulder.
Natural remedies for frozen shoulder pain
There are a few natural remedies for frozen shoulder pain that you can try and administer to improve the condition. Some of these are as follows:
- You can apply hot and cold packs to the shoulder joint to decrease the pain you are feeling, and soothe the muscles
- Acupuncture: An acupuncture professional can help you soothe your muscles and increase the mobility of the same by placing small needles at specific points in your body.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulations (TENS): This treatment involves the use of small electrical currents in the shoulder region to stimulate muscle movement. It also stimulates the release of endorphins that can help you inhibit the sensation of pain, or even block the pain fibres in the region.