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Treatment. Frozen shoulder

By Editorial Team (Y)
March 10, 2022

Treatment of frozen shoulder

The goals of frozen shoulder treatment are to decrease pain and to increase mobility. In order to improve mobility in the shoulder, physical therapy is often recommended. During physical therapy, the arm is moved to stretch the joint capsule. The patient is also instructed in exercises that can be done at home. These may include the use of an over-the-head pulley or a wand. Electrical stimulation (TENS) or ultrasound is also sometimes used, as well as applications of heat or ice. Stretching exercises are typically recommended twice daily to increase motion in the shoulder joint.

Medications for frozen shoulder treatment

To reduce the pain of a frozen shoulder, anti-inflammatory medications are often recommended. These may include ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin. In addition, stronger pain medications for frozen shoulder may be prescribed to help with pain during therapy sessions or to help ensure rest at night. Sometimes injections of steroids into the joint may be used, or oral steroids may be prescribed for a short time to decrease the inflammation of a frozen shoulder.

Surgery for frozen shoulder

If conservative treatment does not help increase mobility and decrease pain caused by a frozen shoulder, surgery might be recommended. Using a regional or general anesthetic, the doctor sometimes breaks down the adhesions by manually manipulating the shoulder. In other cases, arthroscopic surgery for the frozen shoulder treatment is performed. In this procedure, a small flexible tube is inserted into the shoulder through a tiny incision. A camera is attached to the tube, which allows surgery to take place through the tube while allowing the surgeon to view the area on a video screen. The adhesions are then released without the need for a large incision.
Occasionally, open surgery on the frozen shoulder, which includes the need for larger incisions, is required to repair the condition.

Outcome & Complications

Physical therapy for frozen shoulder typically lasts up to six weeks after surgery. Patients are seen by their therapists most often for one to three times weekly. In between visits from the therapist, patients are encouraged to complete home stretching and exercises on their own.
In most cases, frozen shoulder almost resolves completely over time if a patient follows the treatment program as prescribed. However, the length of time for recovery varies. It takes up to nine months to fully recover in some patients, while other patients recover more quickly. The movement that takes the longest to recover is internal rotation. This is the movement that allows the hand to touch the middle of the back.

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